Response to Human Rights Watch report on Cambodian factory labour conditions, including a Joe Fresh case study

03/12/2015

We have an unwavering commitment to responsible and ethical sourcing, evident in our practices and policies, in Cambodia and beyond.

The Human Rights Watch report notes various concerns with production in Cambodia. We are better able to address those concerns today than at any point in our history. Over the past year, we have better defined our standards and are more hands-on in our approach to factory oversight, with Loblaw people on the ground in the region. (These are details we provided in person to Better Factories Cambodia last week, and will provide to an assembly of our Cambodian suppliers next week).

Our Supplier Code of Conduct, updated in 2015, contains greater specificity on working conditions, hours and wages. We continue to build our ability to assess compliance and take action where necessary. In 2014 we began establishing an in-region team of 20 Loblaw inspection and compliance personnel in six countries, including Cambodia. These individuals oversee factory compliance of our control brand vendors first hand, including protecting against the behaviours noted in the Human Rights Watch case study.

The Human Rights Watch case study is two years old, based on anonymous claims, and free of any actionable detail. Nonetheless, in our view it is fundamentally about the practice of unauthorized subcontracting. We have a zero-tolerance policy for subcontracting of this sort, which is cause for corrective action and ultimately supplier termination. This safeguard is contained in the Terms and Conditions of our supplier contracts.

Speaking practically, if we were given details of the alleged violation, we would have a member of our Loblaw audit team in the offending factory, likely within 24 hours.