As criticism mounts over some fashion retailers canceling orders and not paying suppliers, Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing has said that it has a robust program in place to ensure suppliers get the money they’re owed.
And it added that one of its most important responsibilities is to protect the security and safety of the people who help to make its clothes.
It said it has “committed from the outset to pay for complete orders and orders where production has commenced, with no change to payment schedules in place prior to COVID-19 disruptions”.
It will "use fabrics or materials already purchased by our partners to fulfill our orders or will provide compensation should they later become unnecessary.”
And it plans to consult with each of its production partners, “in accordance with our Responsible Procurement Policy, to understand the current financial health of the partner, and to offer support if needed”.
This will include a number of measures such as adjusting production schedules “where feasible and re-allocating our orders among partner factories to ensure an order distribution that does not expose partner factory to unacceptable financial risks or pressures”.
It said it believes that “brands in our industry have an important role to play in mitigating the humanitarian and economic threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic”.
And as far as the safety and security of supply chain workers are concerned, the company has engaged with BetterWork, a joint program between the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the World Bank Group's International Finance Corporation (IFC). It has provided factories with guidelines “to strengthen their sanitization measures and to help them understand their obligations to employees in case of factory closure”.
It’s advised its partner factories to implement strict measures and has provided equipment such as infrared thermometers to some.
It’s also started working with the United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM) to ensure vulnerable migrant workers receive adequate support from their employer factory.