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From the collection of raw materials to manufacturing – modern slavery can exist at all levels of garment supply chains – globally.
That’s why, as uniform wholesalers we recognise how imperative it is that we uphold our ethical responsibility to address and eliminate this inequality and crime where it occurs.
According to international human rights group, Walk Free, modern slavery is defined as situations of exploitation in which a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception or abuse of power.
From forced labour to illegal overtime, wage theft and more, labour exploitation can occur frequently in the garment industry due to these supply chains often operating in locations where laws protecting workers’ human rights are non-existent or not enforced.
At Uniformity, we work proactively to identify, assess and address the risks of modern slavery practices in our operations. We do this by conducting supplier self-assessment questionaries to gauge their level of compliance and ensure they continually meet the in-depth set of criteria outlined in our Modern Slavery Statement (you can read that in full here).
But beyond this, it’s incredibly important to our business that each and every supplier we engage, demonstrates genuine commitment and meaningful action against modern slavery.
And so, when assessing supplier partnerships, both new and existing, we ask that they can talk to their modern slavery policy rather than merely providing it as a “tick-box” exercise in statutory compliance. We do not want to work with suppliers who only appear to be upholding strong ethical standards, but in reality, do not take any practical action to eradicate the underlying risk and exploitation in their own supply chains.
A clear indication as to whether a business is taking concrete action to combat modern slavery is their clear refusal to manufacture in any countries identified as high risk by Walk Free’s Global Slavery Index.
The Global Slavery Index is an internationally recognised source that examines not only locations where modern slavery is perpetrated, but also where those products of crime are then sold and consumed and subsequently, what further actions governments are taking to respond. It is an incredibly detailed data set that should be referenced and utilised by not only businesses, but consumers as well.
Despite the complexity of garment supply chains, as brands and individuals we all play a crucial role in advocating for the human rights of all workers and in turn helping end further examples of modern slavery.
To learn more about modern slavery in the garment industry, we recommend reading Walk Free’s 2022 report, ‘Beyond compliance in the garment industry’.