The Home Furnishings Association condemns forced labor in China or any other country.
A recent report connects forced labor to scores of retail brands, but none that is furniture-related.
“The Chinese government has facilitated the mass transfer of Uyghur and other ethnic minority citizens from the far west region of Xinjiang to factories across the country,” the Australian Strategic Policy Institute charged in a detailed report released March 1. “Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labour, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 83 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors, including Apple, BMW, Gap, Huawei, Nike, Samsung, Sony and Volkswagen.”
“The report is alarming and warrants a strong response from governments and businesses,” HFA CEO Sharron Bradley said. “These brutal practices must not be tolerated. But we can assure Americans that no manufacturers or retailers of home furnishings products are implicated in this report. Our association is committed to the sale of products made under fair labor practices.”
Congressional action is proposed
The report, titled “Uyghurs for sale,” and other reports prompted congressional action. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and others on March 11 introduced bipartisan legislation in the House and Senate to ban imports from China’s Xinjiang province.
The International Labor Organization lists 11 indicators of forced labor, the Australian report notes. “Relevant indicators in the case of Uyghur workers may include:
- Being subjected to intimidation and threats, such as the threat of arbitrary detention, and being monitored by security personnel and digital surveillance tools.
- Being placed in a position of dependency and vulnerability, such as by threats to family members back in Xinjiang.
- Having freedom of movement restricted, such as by fenced-in factories and high-tech surveillance.
- Isolation, such as living in segregated dormitories and being transported in dedicated trains.
- Abusive working conditions, such as political indoctrination, police guard posts in factories, ‘military-style’ management, and a ban on religious practices.
- Excessive hours, such as after-work Mandarin language classes and political indoctrination sessions that are part of job assignments.”
Other retail associations react
Other retail groups reacted, too.
“We are deeply concerned by reports of forced labor and the treatment of Uyghurs and other ethnic minority workers in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and elsewhere in China,” the National Retail Federation, Retail Industry Leaders Association, American Apparel & Footwear Association and U.S. Fashion Industries Association said in a statement issued by all four groups March 10.”The reported situation is of a scale, scope and complexity that is unprecedented during the modern era of global supply chains.”
HFA’s Government Relations Action Team supported the statement condemning forced labor.