How we talk about modern slavery matters

M&S becomes first major fashion brand to publicly commit to Call to Action on Uyghur cotton

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The British retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) has signed the Coalition to End Uyghur Forced Labor’s Call to Action and committed to end all cotton sourcing from the Uyghur Region.

Announcing the move on Wednesday morning, the company said that it would also cut all ties with suppliers implicated in the forced labor system that has ensnared hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs in recent years.

The announcement marks a major success for Freedom United’s campaign, the Coalition – whose Steering Committee Freedom United sits on  and for the global movement against forced Uyghur labor at large.

The Coalition’s Call to Action, which details the steps companies must take to ensure they are not complicit in the Chinese government’s forced labor system, has been endorsed by over 300 civil society groups—including nearly 100 Uyghur groups.

While a number of fashion brands have privately committed to the Call to Action, M&S is the first to do so publicly.

BBC News reports:

Marks & Spencer sources its cotton through businesses that are accredited with the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), a not-for-profit organisation that focuses on sustainable production.

In March last year, BCI suspended its activities in Xinjiang, and as a result, there is no new licensed BCI cotton coming from the region or in M&S products.

Nevertheless, M&S said it was important to sign on to the call to action to encourage other companies to examine their supply chain.

“When it comes to sustainable and ethical clothing, we can only achieve real change at scale by working with others,” said Richard Price, the managing director of M&S Clothing & Home.

Over one million Uyghurs have been detained in the Uyghur Region since 2017, with many forced to work in factories and camps as part of an ongoing state-sponsored campaign of oppression

With an estimated 20 percent of the world’s cotton originating in the province, the supply chains of countless global fashion brands are potentially implicated in what many have described as crimes against humanity.

In a press release, the Coalition welcomed M&S’s commitment and praised the company’s leadership, urging other companies to follow suit.

Read the Coalition’s full statement here.

Help keep up the pressure to see more brands follow M&S by sending fashion brands a message today.

Chip in and help end modern slavery once and for all.

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Gerard
Gerard
3 months ago

Nice sentiment at no cost to the bottom line for M&S. What is Freedom United doing about the systemic racism in the United States? If you shut down the cotton industry in China, where will these people get employment, food to feed their children…? Boycotts hurt the working poor, they seldom affect the rich.

Freedom United
Admin
3 months ago
Reply to  Gerard

Hi Gerard,

Thank you for raising the issue of systemic racism in the United States. Freedom United is running two campaigns calling for an end to slavery in the U.S. prison and detention industry, which disproportionately affects Black people and minorities. You can join the campaigns here:

https://www.freedomunited.org/advocate/end-prison-slavery/

https://www.freedomunited.org/advocate/forced-labor-detention/

Brian Gill
Brian Gill
3 months ago

Really good news from M&S !

Lance Hoi
Lance Hoi
3 months ago

This is a story created by the western government to defame China, there is no oppression of Uyghurs or any other minorities. I will boycott M&S until they issue a public apology

Justin Morahan
Justin Morahan
3 months ago
Reply to  Lance Hoi

Lance Hoi what evidence have you got for saying this?