Washington – Global Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF) welcomes the decision by the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) to investigate whether fashion giant Nike and Dynasty Gold, a mining company, have benefitted from Uyghur forced labor. The decision, announced July 11, stems from allegations filed by 28 rights groups, led by the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project and Canadians in Support of Refugees in Dire Need.
“CORE’s decision to investigate is an important step to ensuring Nike does not profit or benefit from forced labor, which is a key instrument of the genocide and crimes against humanity targeting Uyghurs,” said Allison Gill, Forced Labor Program Director at GLJ-ILRF, a steering committee member of the Coalition to End Forced Labor in the Uyghur Region. “Forced labor in global supply chains drives labor standards down and hurts working people everywhere. We hope this investigation spurs broader action by Canada to hold companies accountable for forced labor and to block goods made with forced labor from entering the Canadian market.” GLJ-ILRF called on all companies to map their supply chains and business relationships and cut ties with entities connected to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Uyghur Region) or that use the forced labor of Uyghurs or other Turkic and/or Muslim people in China.
In February, GLJ-ILRF joined forces with the Asia Floor Wage Alliance and unions across five countries in South and Southeast Asia representing workers at Nike factories to file a complaint with the US National Contact Point (NCP) for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) stemming from the human rights impacts of massive COVID wage losses. The complaint alleges that Nike has not addressed and remediated the impacts according to the 2011 OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, including that Nike had ignored unions’ repeated requests for dialogue about the dire impact on workers and their families and the differential gendered impact. OECD confidentiality rules prohibit publication of the Specific Instance and parties’ further comments about the process. A summary of the Specific Instance is available here.
“The allegations of Nike using forced Uyghur labor in its supply chain are serious and, together with the well-documented human rights crisis faced by garment workers in Nike’s supply chain during the COVID pandemic, suggest a clear pattern of insufficient due diligence by Nike that harms workers,” said Sahiba Gill, Senior Staff Attorney at GLJ-ILRF. “Nike should engage with labor organizations at every stage of due diligence to assess and address the impacts its business has on workers. Government-led processes like CORE and the US NCP can help ensure that Nike respects workers.”
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Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ – ILRF) is a non-governmental organization that works transnationally to advance policies and laws that protect decent work; to strengthen freedom of association and workers’ ability to advocate for their rights, and to hold corporations accountable for labor rights violations in their supply chains.