Locals Blockade Uniqlo Factory in Vietnam Over Pollution Concerns

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Photo credit: Reuters staff

Vietnamese villagers who want Pacific Crystal Textiles shuttered for polluting their environment haven’t let up, and global brands are now facing production hold ups.

The factory supplies product for Uniqlo and the company does business with brands including Calvin Klein and Victoria Secret, but only Uniqlo has been confirmed as sourcing from the Hai Duong facility.

Villagers have reportedly been blockading the entrance to the Hai Duong factory, which is owned and operated by Hong Kong-based Pacific Textiles Holdings Limited, as they call for the mill to cease operations for good. According to reports, the area’s residents reported a foul smell from the factory since December last year, which they eventually found to be coming from the facility’s water discharge.

After investigations, the spilled water was found to have surpassed the legal limits of acidity and alkalinity balance, color and suspended solids, Reuters noted in a report last month. The factory was fined $30,000 as a result.

But the pollution seems to have persisted, and so have the villagers.

Pacific Holdings said in a statement Tuesday, “As of today, the gateway of the company’s factory in Vietnam is still blocked by the villagers. The representatives from People’s Committee of Kim Thanh District, District Police, Village People’s Committee and Lai Vu Industrial Park One Member Limited Liability Company have announced the official requests to the villagers to clear the blockage. We are still waiting for the government’s action to clear the blockage,” Ecotextile reported.

Uniqlo has since pulled its production from the factory that it was indirectly sourcing fabric from, spokesperson Aldo Liguori said, telling Reuters, “Fast Retailing is serious about running an ethical, sustainable business, and operates all supplier relationships under a strict code of conduct.”

Fast Retailing said it looked into the steps Pacific Crystal took to remedy things following the polluted water spill and that the issue villagers have with the factory could be over the initial terms surrounding the sale of the land, though villagers have argued that the issues are entirely separate and that this round-the-clock blockade is solely about pollution.

With workers barricading the factory, Pacific Crystal has been out of production, which has tied up brands’ orders, causing deliveries to run late and posing what the company has called a “significant financial impact.”

There seems to so far have been little headway in finding a resolution, but the Pacific Holdings statement continued on to say, “We will closely monitor the situation and will make further announcements in relation to any new decisions or developments regarding this matter.”

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