Zeeman statement on forced labour in Xinjiang province China.

Alphen aan den Rijn, januari 2021

Zeeman statement on forced labour in Xinjiang province China.

We are well aware of the recent reports and media coverage regarding forced labour malpractices involving Uyghurs in Xinjiang province in China which are highly concerning. Following an internal investigation as well as an external check by Fair Wear we can confirm that Zeeman does not source from garment factories in Xinjiang.

No garment production for Zeeman in Xinjiang
Already in 2019 the Dutch Agreement on Garments and Textiles (AGT) as well as media coverage addressed the critical situation in Xinjiang. Our due diligence showed we do not source from production locations in this province. This can also be verified at the Open apparel registry platform where we publically share the factories we work with.

Cotton from China
China is the largest cotton producer in the world, accounting for approximately 20% of the world’s production, with reportedly over 80% of its cotton coming from the Xinjiang region. Ready-made garments from all over the world may contain cotton produced in Xinjiang or from other regions where Uyghur workers are situated.

From all textiles and garments produced for Zeeman in China 65% is cotton of which 62% is coming from verified sources as BCI, GOTS and GRS that are not located in Xinjiang. The balance 38% ‘conventional cotton’ is coming from other sources. We know that forced labour is more often found further down the supply chain, like in spinning mills, and in addition to that recent reports show that 80% of the cotton produced in China is from Xinjiang so we can’t guarantee that Xinjiang cotton is not processed in our garments and textiles. However, we will take action.

Actions Zeeman 2021
As stated in our Code of Conduct employment should be freely chosen (based on ILO Conventions 29 and 105). This forbids the use of forced labour which is considered a zero-tolerance issue. During factory audits by external parties as Fair Wear we monitor whether our factories adhere to these labour standards.

  1. We re-emphasized to our local agencies that sourcing in Xinjiang is prohibited. Together with multi-stakeholder initiatives as Fair Wear Foundation and ETI we continue our due diligence throughout our Chinese supply chain, to verify that our business partners adhere to this requirement. We will keep on guiding our direct suppliers in the process of conscious sourcing of materials and suppliers to minimize the risk of forced labour deeper in our supply chain by setting up a solid purchasing policy based on the OECD Guidelines for Due Diligence.
  2. The increase of the use of sustainable cotton in all production countries to 50% in 2021 will contribute to the prevention of conventional cotton. (Sustainable cotton all countries 2020: 41%, sustainable cotton China 62% 2019 23%)
  3. We will also take next steps to map our supply chain to strengthen the traceability and verification of the ‘conventional cotton’ used by our suppliers. This will reduce the possibility of exposure to cotton production in Xinjiang area so the risk of forced labour can be mitigated.

    The cotton market has a huge number of suppliers and middlemen which makes it difficult to track and trace cotton precisely but we are committed to do so.  If any mills are reported that produce yarns/fabric with cotton processed in Xinjiang we will ask our factories to cease the business activities with these mills .
  1. The above actions will be in close collaboration with relevant multi-stakeholders because we believe we can work together towards solutions. Better cotton initiative (BCI), Fair Wear Foundation (FWF), Agreement on Garments and Textiles (AGT), Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI) and, branch organization INretail.

We are committed to prevent forced labour at every level of the garment and textile supply chain and will continue to uphold and safeguard labour standards.