ontario news watch

Corporate ethics czar opens forced-labour probes against Walmart, Hugo Boss, Diesel

OTTAWA — Canada’s corporate-ethics watchdog is investigating whether Walmart, Hugo Boss and Diesel have forced labour in their supply chains.

Sheri Meyerhoffer, the Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise, issued three reports today saying none of the companies have done enough to demonstrate the products they sell in Canada are free of slave labour.

The Canadian subsidiaries of all three companies are accused of relying on suppliers who source materials from Uyghur people forced to work in China’s Xinjiang region.

Walmart, Hugo Boss and Diesel all say they uphold strong antislavery protocols and investigate the source of their products, but Meyerhoffer said none provided enough information about specific allegations.

She says the main challenge is that products from Xinjiang are often processed in other countries, meaning that imports from countries like Vietnam could involve forced Chinese labour if they’re not carefully traced.

All seven of the initial assessments the ombudsperson has announced so far relate to accusations of forced labour involving the Uyghur people, although Beijing insists it has never allowed the practice.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 24, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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