The CORE addresses Uyghur forced labour complaints against three Canadian companies
Allegations of Uyghur forced labour in the garment supply chains and operations of Walmart Canada, Hugo Boss Canada Inc. and Diesel Canada Inc. in China
Ottawa, ON August 24, 2023 - The Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) has published Initial Assessment reports regarding complaints about three Canadian companies: Walmart Canada Corp. (Walmart Canada), Hugo Boss Canada Inc. (Hugo Boss Canada) and Diesel Canada Inc. (Diesel Canada). The complaints were filed by a coalition of 28 civil society organizations in June 2022. They allege that the three companies have operations or supply chains in the Xinjiang region of the People’s Republic of China that have used or benefitted from the use of Uyghur forced labour.
The Walmart Canada Initial Assessment report details the allegation that Walmart Canada has commercial relationships with Chinese companies that use or benefit from Uyghur forced labour. As outlined in the Initial Assessment report, Walmart Canada generally denies the allegations, but fails to provide a specific response to the allegations. Given the company’s decision not to participate further in the CORE’s dispute resolution process, the CORE will conduct an investigation using independent fact finding to address the conflict between the allegations and the position of the company.
The Hugo Boss Canada Initial Assessment report details the allegation that the Canadian garment company has a supply relationship with a Chinese company. Hugo Boss Canada denies the allegations, however, its response does not appear to consider fully the complex nature of the garment supply chain. The CORE has decided to conduct an investigation using independent fact finding to consider these complexities as well as the indicators of risk relevant to working in high-risk contexts.
The Diesel Canada Initial Assessment report details the allegation that the company’s suppliers use or benefit from Uyghur forced labour. Diesel Canada denies the allegations, stating it has reviewed its supply chain, and it is not involved with any human rights abuse nor does it purchase material from the Xinjiang region. Diesel Canada did not participate in the CORE’s initial assessment process raising questions related to the degree of transparency in its human rights due diligence practices. The CORE has decided to conduct an investigation into Diesel Canada’s business relationship with one of the Chinese companies alleged to be using or benefitting from Uyghur forced labour.
“As mediation between the parties in is not currently an option, we will be launching investigations into the allegations outlined in these reports,” stated Ombudsperson, Sheri Meyerhoffer. “The investigations will provide all three companies with an ongoing opportunity to provide further relevant information and mediation of the allegations remains open. We are hopeful that the investigation findings will provide the companies with information to support their ability to strengthen their due diligence practices.”
Sarah Concannon, Senior Advisor - Communications
- Initial Assessment Report: Walmart Canada
- Initial Assessment Report: Hugo Boss Canada Inc.
- Initial Assessment Report: Diesel Canada Inc.
- The CORE was established in 2019 with Sheri Meyerhoffer appointed as the Ombudsperson through an Order-in-Council.
- The CORE is the first ombud office with a business and human rights mandate to hold Canadian garment, mining, and oil and gas companies working outside of Canada accountable for possible human rights abuses arising from their operations, including in their supply chains.
- The CORE’s complaint process has five stages: 1. Intake; 2. Initial Assessment; 3. Mediation; 4. Investigation; 5. Recommendations and Follow up.
- If the Ombud decides that a complaint is admissible during Intake, the complaint moves to the Initial Assessment stage where the Ombud works with the involved parties to reach a resolution or decide on next steps.
- An Initial Assessment report is published after the completion of the Initial Assessment stage. The report describes the complaint and complaint process to date, the parties and their positions, and provides the reasons for the Ombud’s decision on how to move a complaint forward, including mediation, investigation or to close the complaint.
- Complaints may be filed using the CORE’s online complaint form or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- To learn more about the CORE’s complaint process, please visit What is the complaint process?
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