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123 apparel and footwear firms ink pact against forced labour

  • 123 apparel and footwear companies have signed a new commitment to responsible recruiting in their supply chains.

  • The pact has been developed by the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) and the Fair Labor Association (FLA).

  • It marks a proactive industry effort to address potential forced labour risks for migrant workers.

PVH Corp, Nike, Ralph Lauren and VF Corp are among 123 companies that have signed a new commitment to prevent forced and unfair labour practices in global apparel, footwear and travel goods supply chains.

Developed by the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) and the Fair Labor Association (FLA), the 'AAFA/FLA Apparel & Footwear Industry Commitment to Responsible Recruitment' is aimed at tackling potential forced labour risks for migrant workers.

Each signatory commits to working with its partners to create conditions where no worker pays for their job, where workers retain control of their travel documents and have full freedom of movement, and workers are informed of the basic terms of their employment before joining the workforce.

The companies also agree to "seriously and effectively" implement these practices, to incorporate the commitment into their social compliance standards by 31 December 2019, and to periodically report the company's actions through sustainability and/or modern slavery legal disclosures.

"Creating a more transparent supply chain has long been a focus of the apparel and footwear industry and removing the possibility of forced labour is a major part of these efforts," says Rick Helfenbein, AAFA president and CEO. "Not only does this commitment show that our industry does not tolerate forced labour, but it also shows our customers that we take this issue seriously and are proactively working together as an industry to initiate measures to ensure these values are respected throughout the supply chain. We hope that many other members of our community will join us in the near future."

Sharon Waxman, president and CEO of the FLA, adds: "Far too often, forced labour begins even before a worker shows up at a factory. It starts with recruitment practices that require migrant workers to pay an exorbitant amount of money just to secure a decent job in a foreign country.

"With this renewed commitment to responsible recruitment, we hope to bring the power of collective action to highlight these harmful, and sometimes deceptive, practices and protect workers against forced labour in global supply chains."

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