The FLA has identified an increased risk for forced labor in Xinjiang, China, based on the appearance of “re-education” camps in that region. The operation of these “re-education” camps is not only a violation of the human rights of the detainees, it also poses a risk to a company’s supply chain credibility. Since most FLA affiliates who source from China do not have final manufacturing facilities located in Xinjiang Province, the risk is concentrated in upstream production, and could potentially appear on cotton farms, ginning facilities, spinning mills, and other upstream process facilities.
FLA standards on forced labor detail more than a dozen indicators for companies evaluating whether their suppliers or producers are upholding their human rights commitments, and can be useful at any supply chain level. Beyond the basic requirement that “workers shall have the right to enter into and to terminate their employment freely,” and the clear prohibitions on “prison labor [and] bonded labor,” FLA standards also require that workers must have reasonable freedom of movement at work, must not be bound to their jobs by debt, and may not be forced to work overtime involuntarily.
This issue brief provides eight recommendations for companies to consider given the compulsory nature of the “re-education” camps and the reported risk that detainees of these camps may be sent involuntarily as workers to workplaces either in the camp compound or outside the “re-education” camp compounds in Xinjiang.