It almost seems redundant to say, but as many people producing products in the fashion industry still face this reality, we wish to very loudly and clearly state that Honest Basics considers it to be an important duty to make sure no worker in our supply chain is enduring any type of modern slavery, such as forced or bonded labour, and that no minors are employed in the production facilities we partner with. 

As the International Labour Organisation defines forced labour: "all work or service which is exacted from any person under the threat of a penalty and for which the person has not offered himself or herself voluntarily." (Forced Labour Convention, 1930, No.29) Important additions to this definition are also that an employee should always have informed consent on the type of work they voluntarily sign up to do, the work should never be done as a type of debt-payment and the work should never be an exercise of discrimination. Furthermore, human trafficking and types of bonded labour often coincide, as people might be moved into labour camps, or international and/or domestic migrants are more vulnerable to exploitation and might get their travel documents confiscated or have to pay off travel debts through work. 

International Legal standards on Forced and Child Labour need to of course be known, acknowledged and followed by all production facilities. But to also make sure that these themes stay relevant and are consistently monitored for, through the social assessments and audits our factories participate in the different recruitment policies and workers’ rights policies are checked for the risk of any forced and/or minor labour occuring. In these assessments, for example, factory management is asked if recruitment fees ever need to be paid by prospective employees (which if that is the case can indicate that employees work under debt) or how the legal age of employees is checked and kept on record. Concerning Child Labour, all factories also require to have a remediation plan in case it does occur that a minor is found to be working for them. This means that a factory will then be responsible for all wages to be paid out, to have the child checked for any health issues, pay all necessary medical costs and provide (financial) support during the child’s recovery. 

Obviously, these topics in the social assessments fall under the zero-tolerance category. If anything would point to an insufficient policy and risk-management, this would be flagged. Aside from that, these violations are also, simply put, illegal. We have never encountered an instance of any risk or doubt in the capabilities of our production partners regarding these topics, however we feel it is important to acknowledge the reality and weight of this. Especially so because some regions in China face issues with indentured labour. 

In Xinjiang, in the Northwest of China, Uyghur and other muslim minorities are being detained and working in conditions of forced labour. Child labour is also occuring here and aside from forced labour in manufacturing, accounts also indicate that agricultural workers are forced into work, outside of situations of detention. The Uyghur region produces about 23% of the world’s cotton and many large suppliers and fashion brands have been implicated in selling products made through Uyghur forced labour. We are of course appalled by this and make sure that we, as well as our suppliers, carefully monitor the sources of materials we buy to make sure that we are not supporting these awful human rights abuses. It is also a situation that highlights once again how important traceability and due diligence is in this industry. For recent news on the situation, we recommend checking out the Business & Human Rights Resource Center as one trusted source on the topic.