Report Exposes Continued Labor Abuses by Major Chinese Fashion Giant

Public Eye, a Swiss-based human rights advocacy group, has issued a scathing rebuke against Chinese fashion giant Shein, alleging the company’s involvement in labor abuses despite promises of improvement.

In a follow-up report released on Sunday, Public Eye reiterated its concerns over Shein’s labor practices, stating that “illegal working hours and piecework wages remain a typical feature” for workers associated with the company. The report also highlighted suspicions surrounding Shein’s opaque finances and the disappearance of its founder from the public eye.

Shein, known for its ultra-fast fashion model offering a vast online inventory of clothing at remarkably low prices, has faced mounting scrutiny over its supply chain practices. The company’s business model relies on exploiting cheap labor and materials, including textiles potentially harvested by forced labor.

Public Eye’s investigation included interviews with textile workers employed by Shein and its suppliers in China. Despite Shein’s code of conduct limiting work hours to 60 per week, workers reported enduring grueling 75-hour work weeks, often with inadequate compensation.

“I work every day from 8:00 in the morning to 10:30 at night and take one day off each month. I can’t afford any more days off because it costs too much,” shared one worker interviewed by Public Eye.

Wages for textile workers were reported to be modest, ranging from 6,000 to 10,000 yuan per month (approximately $830 to $1,380 USD). The report also highlighted instances of undocumented and unpaid work, with workers coerced into correcting mistakes on their own time under threat of fines.

Furthermore, Public Eye raised concerns about safety standards in Shein factories, noting a prevalence of smoking in environments filled with flammable textiles and chemicals. There were also indications of potential child labor practices.

Despite Shein’s efforts to address criticism, including commissioning an audit on supplier factory wages, Public Eye dismissed these measures as inadequate and criticized the audit for downplaying the severity of labor abuses.

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