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Shein Factory Conditions Remain Challenging: New Report

0 13-05-2024
Alex Romanenko 118
Workers at Shein factory operating sewing machines under bright lights

Shein factory conditions continue to be a concern as a recent report by Swiss advocacy group Public Eye reveals that workers at some of Shein's suppliers are still working excessive hours, despite the company’s pledge to improve their working conditions.

Persistent Long Hours

The investigation, which followed up on a 2021 report, found that employees in six factories supplying Shein are still enduring 75-hour workweeks. Interviews with 13 workers from these factories, located west of Nancun Village in Guangzhou, disclosed that many laborers work 12-hour days, six to seven days a week. This is in stark contrast to Shein’s Code of Conduct, which caps weekly working hours at 60.

Worker Testimonies

A 50-year-old supervisor shared that mistakes made during production must be rectified during unpaid hours, adding to the already demanding schedule. Another employee, with 20 years of experience, reported working from 8 AM to 10:30 PM daily, with only one day off each month, due to the high cost of taking additional leave.

Wages and Surveillance

According to Public Eye, the basic wage for workers, excluding overtime, averages 2,400 yuan (£265), while the Asia Floor Wage Alliance suggests a living wage in China is around 6,512 yuan (£719). Workers also noted an increase in surveillance cameras in factories, purportedly to ensure compliance with regulations, although Shein denies accessing this footage.

Company’s Response

Shein has acknowledged the report, emphasizing its efforts to improve Shein factory conditions. The company claims significant progress has been made in enhancing worker welfare, including investing millions in strengthening supply chain governance. Shein also stated that they ensure suppliers adhere to local wage and working hour laws and are committed to terminating relationships with non-compliant suppliers.

Addressing Childcare and Labor Practices

In response to reports of children in factories, Shein emphasized its zero-tolerance policy towards child labor. The company acknowledged the childcare challenges faced by factory workers and mentioned providing financial support to establish childcare centers near workplaces.

Industry-Wide Challenge

Shein emphasized that the issue of long working hours is not unique to their supply chain but is a widespread challenge across the fashion industry. The company has called for collective efforts from brands, manufacturers, and other stakeholders to address these systemic issues. Shein’s commitment to improving factory conditions includes working closely with third-party auditors to ensure compliance and better working conditions for all factory employees.

Advocacy and Monitoring

Public Eye continues to advocate for better working conditions and stricter monitoring of Shein’s supply chain practices. The organization highlights the need for ongoing vigilance and transparency from fast fashion brands like Shein to ensure that worker rights are upheld and that improvements are made consistently.

Consumer Awareness

As consumer awareness about labor practices grows, companies like Shein are under increasing pressure to ensure ethical practices in their supply chains. The findings about Shein factory conditions have sparked discussions about the responsibilities of fast fashion brands to their workers and the ethical implications of their business models.

Future Steps

Moving forward, Shein has stated its intention to further enhance worker conditions and ensure compliance across its supplier network. This includes ongoing investments in supply chain governance, regular audits, and collaboration with industry bodies to promote fair labor practices. The company also plans to continue supporting suppliers in creating better work environments and addressing the childcare needs of factory workers.

Global Impact

The revelations about Shein factory conditions have had a global impact, prompting discussions on the need for greater transparency and accountability in the fashion industry. Advocacy groups and consumers alike are calling for more stringent regulations and better enforcement of labor standards to protect workers in global supply chains.

Final Thoughts

The continued scrutiny of Shein factory conditions underscores the importance of ethical labor practices in the fast fashion industry. As Shein works to address these challenges, the focus remains on ensuring that all workers in their supply chain are treated fairly and work in safe, humane conditions. The commitment to improving Shein factory conditions will be crucial in maintaining consumer trust and upholding the brand's reputation in the global market.

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Alex Romanenko

Quebec, Canada

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