Posts Tagged ‘Wal-Mart


Sexual Harassment Flourishes in Slave Labor Factories

Sexual Harassment Flourishes in Slave Labor Factories

Global Garment Industry Supply Chains Remain Rife with Gender-Based Violence and Harassment

New studies from international advocacy groups find that female workers face daily abuse.

Leading retailers H&M, Gap and Walmart continue to depend on overseas factories where harassment and abuse toward female workers runs rampant, according to new reports from leading union, workers rights and human rights organizations.

In three individual reports, a global coalition of organizations including Global Labor Justice and the Asia Floor Wage Alliance explain how much of the fast fashion produced for the retailers in overseas factories depends on conditions that breed violence and sexual harassment toward women.

“These are not isolated incidents,” Global Labor Justice reports on its website. “Rather, they reflect a convergence of risk factors for gender violence… that leave women garment workers systematically exposed to violence.”

The studies show that while major retailers have said they are committed to improving working conditions in the overseas factories that supply many of their products, much work remains to be done.

The findings also come at a time when discussion about the future of trade is taking place — and a reminder that while much attention has been paid to how shifts in trade relationships might impact companies’ bottom lines, free trade has meant real people around the world have suffered serious abuse.

In each report, researchers examine the ways in which female garment workers are routinely, and often violently, abused in their workplaces. Many also face unwanted sexual advances from their supervisors.

That abuse isn’t just limited to the factory floor, either — these workers also deal with violence and harassment during their commutes and in employer-provided housing, the reports find.

To conduct the studies, researchers held focus group discussions with female workers in garment supply chains and trade union leaders aiming to organize workers. They met with these workers in several countries, including Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

Researchers then put together case and context studies to document the incidents described by the workers, “including case studies of sexual harassment, retaliation for reporting sexual violence, and barriers to seeking relief.”

Women serve as the vast majority of the garment industry workforce across the global supply chain, although they rarely hold management positions. Instead, they typically work long hours in unsafe working conditions for low wages (almost always without overtime pay).

They’re also forced to work very fast under extreme pressure to meet the production targets of the fast-fashion industry.

“Use of production targets and piece rate wages create sustained pressure among workers to meet targets at the expense of taking breaks to rest, using restrooms and even drinking water,” the H&M report states. It later continues: “Low wages bind women to grinding production targets and excessive overtime hours — and even, then, they may not earn enough to meet basic nutritional requirements for themselves and their families.”

When factory supervisors don’t think that workers are moving fast enough, violence is often the result.

Radhika, a female worker employed in a Bangalore factory that supplies Gap and H&M, described how she was assaulted after failing to meet production targets:

“[M]y batch supervisor came up behind me as I was working on the sewing machine, yelling, ‘you are not meeting your target production.’ He pulled me out of the chair and I fell on the floor. He hit me, including on my breasts. He pulled me up and then pushed me to the floor again. He kicked me.’”

Radhika filed a written compliant, and was called into a meeting with the supervisor and a human resources staffer. The supervisor apologized, and Radhika was warned not to mention the incident again.

The harassment from the manager didn’t stop. Radhika still works at the factory because she is a single mother working to support her physically challenged daughter, she said.

Meanwhile, verbal abuse is commonplace. In a Gap supplier factory in Indonesia, one woman described the typical treatment from her supervisor:

“If you miss the target, all the workers in the production room can hear the yelling: ‘You stupid! Cannot work? If you are not willing to work, just go home! Watch out you! I will not extend your contract if you cannot work… They also throw materials. They kick our chairs.”

The situation is similar in Walmart supplier factories.

“Women workers in Walmart suppliers in Bangladesh described constant and relentless verbal abuse that continues from the beginning to the end of their shift,” according to the Walmart report. “Similarly, Indonesian workers at Walmart supplier factories reported that verbal abuse was daily and ongoing.”

Even in the rare instances when women workers are hired into management positions, they still face harassment.

Sulatana, a skilled garment worker with 10 years of experience, was hired in January 2018 as a production-line manager by a Walmart supplier in Bangladesh. But Sulatana still found herself facing unwanted advances from the factory’s general manager, including flirting and touching.

The general manager eventually asked Sulatana to go out with him; the production manager even offered her a salary increase and promotion if she agreed. Sultana declined, and the production manager threatened to fire her. When she went to the police to file a complaint, they refused to help.

“Sulatana had no avenue for relief for ongoing sexual harassment at work. When Sulatana refused to spend time with the General Manager outside working hours, she was fired in retaliation,” the Walmart report states. “Neither factory human resources nor the police provided viable pathways to accountability.”

So what are the solutions to this unchecked crisis? The researchers laid out a series of recommendations, and the International Labour Organization is currently convening to set the first international labor stands on violence and harassment in the workplace.

But the reports also serve as a reminder that when textile production moved overseas, it might have led to lower prices  and fast fashion — but it came at a big cost.

American communities were hallowed out, and the workers who took their jobs throughout Asia are now forced to work unreasonably long hours for terrible pay and in terrible conditions. As these reports find, many of these workers face regular physical abuse and sexual harassment as well.

H&M, Gap and Walmart might be singled out in these reports, but they are hardly the only retailers who profit upon the cheap goods provided by the fast fashion global supply chain — and which depends upon the terrible mistreatment of its workers to survive. Retailers repeatedly have made promises to improve labor conditions, but it looks like they continue to break those promises.

So as big discussions about the future of trade continue, it’s important to remember that trade hasn’t just led to lower consumer prices and increased company profit margins  — it also led to the rise of sweatshop labor, workplace violence and even sexual abuse in countries around the world.

Editor’s Note

Violence, intimidation and sexual harassment are some of the drawbacks to globalization. In exchange for getting cheaper products, the United States has given up all standards on how things are produced: whether it is working conditions, wages, pollution, child labor, over-production and extreme waste, toxic products and, in this case, sexual harassment.


Thai shrimp exporters linked to slave labor (Again)

Thai Shrimp Exporters Linked to Slave Labor (Again)

From Associated Press investigation – A story of continued slave labor which supplies shrimp to businesses such as Wal-Mart and Red Lobster. The New York Times had previously done a very extensive story about slave labor in the shrimp business this past summer.

Source: Thai shrimp exporters linked to slave labor – – Dec. 14, 2015

SAMUT SAKHON, Thailand – Poor migrant workers and children are being sold to factories in Thailand and forced to peel shrimp that ends up in global supply chains, an Associated Press investigation found.

At the Gig Peeling Factory, nearly 100 Burmese laborers were trapped, most working for almost nothing. They spent 16 hours a day with their aching hands in ice water, ripping the guts, heads, tails and shells off shrimp. One girl was so tiny she had to stand on a stool to reach the peeling table. Some workers had been there for months, even years. Always, someone was watching.

Children sit together during a raid on a shrimp shed in Samut Sakhon, Thailand

Children sit together during a raid on a shrimp shed in Samut Sakhon, Thailand

“They didn’t let us rest,” said Eae Hpaw, 16, her arms a patchwork of scars from shrimp-related infections and allergies. “We stopped working around 7 in the evening. We would take a shower and sleep. Then we would start again around 3 in the morning.”

[More than 2.000 trapped fishermen have been freed this year as a result of an ongoing Associated Press investigative series into slavery in the Thai seafood industry. The reports also have led to a dozen arrests, millions of dollars’ worth of seizures and proposals for new federal laws.]

Pervasive human trafficking has helped turn Thailand into one of the world’s biggest shrimp providers. Despite repeated promises by businesses and government to clean up the country’s $7 billion seafood export industry, abuses persist, fueled by corruption and complicity among police and authorities. Arrests and prosecutions are rare. Raids can end up sending migrants without proper paperwork to jail, while owners go unpunished.

“I was shocked after working there a while, and I realized there was no way out,” said Tin Nyo Win, 22, another former Gig factory worker, who routinely peeled 175 pounds of shrimp with his wife for just $4 a day.

Hundreds of shrimp-peeling sheds are hidden in plain sight in Samut Sakhon, an hour outside Bangkok, some with slaves locked inside. Last month, AP journalists followed and filmed trucks loaded with freshly peeled shrimp from the abusive Gig shed to major Thai exporting companies. They also traced similar connections from another factory raided six months earlier, and interviewed more than two dozen workers from both sites. In all, several companies received tainted shrimp, including Thai Union, one of the world’s biggest seafood companies, and a subsidiary.

The farmed shrimp can mix with different batches of seafood as it is packaged, branded and shipped, making it impossible to determine where any individual piece was peeled. But because at least some of the Thai exporters’ shrimp was processed by forced labor, all of it is considered associated with slavery, according to United Nations and U.S. standards.

U.S. customs records show the shrimp made its way into the supply chains of major U.S. food stores and retailers such as Wal-Mart, Kroger, Whole Foods, Dollar General and Petco, along with restaurants such as Red Lobster and Olive Garden. It also entered supply chains for some of America’s best-known seafood brands and pet foods, including Chicken of the Sea and Fancy Feast. AP reporters went to supermarkets in all 50 states and found shrimp products from supply chains tainted with forced labor.

Import and export records from Europe and Asia are confidential, but the Thai companies receiving shrimp tracked by the AP all say they ship to those continents. AP reporters in England, Germany, Italy and Ireland found several brands sourced from Thailand in supermarkets in those countries.

The businesses that responded to AP’s findings condemned the practices that lead to these conditions. Many asked for details and said they were launching investigations.

“I want to eliminate this,” said Dirk Leuenberger, CEO of Aqua Star, a leading seafood supplier. “I think it’s disgusting that it’s even remotely part of my business.”

Wal-Mart, Red Lobster and other companies said they strive to ensure the shrimp they receive is not tainted by slavery.

“As the world’s largest seafood restaurant, we know the important role we play in setting and ensuring compliance with seafood industry standards, and we’re committed to doing our part to make sure the seafood we buy and serve is sourced in a way that is ethical, responsible and sustainable,” Red Lobster said in a statement.

No Accountability

Red Lobster, Whole Foods and H-E-B Supermarkets were among the companies that said they were confident – based on assurances from their Thai supplier – that their particular shrimp was not associated with abusive factories. That Thai supplier admits it hadn’t known where it was getting all its shrimp and sent a note outlining corrective measures to U.S. businesses demanding answers last week.

Responding to U.S. business demands for answers to AP’s findings, Thai Union CEO Thiraphong Chansiri acknowledged “that illicitly sourced product may have fraudulently entered its supply chain.”

Susan Coppedge, the U.S. State Department’s new anti-trafficking ambassador, said problems persist because offenders aren’t held accountable – though the U.S. itself hasn’t punished Thailand, an important Southeast Asian ally. She said American consumers “can speak through their wallets” by avoiding slave-produced products.

Thailand passed laws this year to crack down on fishing-industry abuses and is working to register undocumented migrant workers, who often are lured from home by brokers with promises of good-paying jobs. They are then sold to shrimp sheds such as the Gig factory, where Tin Nyo Win and his wife learned they would have to work off what was considered their combined worth: $830, an insurmountable debt.

“There have been some flaws in the laws, and we have been closing those gaps,” said M.L. Puntarik Smiti, the Thai Labor Ministry’s permanent secretary.

Critics argue, however, that changes have been largely cosmetic. Former slaves repeatedly described how police took them into custody and then sold them to agents who trafficked them again. They say police are paid to look the other way and that officers frequently do not understand labor laws.

Tin Nyo Win escaped the Gig factory and was helped by a labor rights group, which pressured authorities to act. On Nov. 9, dozens of officers and military troops burst into the shed. Frightened Burmese workers huddled on the dirty concrete floor. One young mother breast-fed a 5-month-old baby, while children were taken to a corner.

But no one at the shed was arrested for human trafficking. Instead, migrants with papers, including seven children, were sent back there to work. Ten undocumented children were taken from their parents and put into a shelter. Twenty-one other illegal workers were detained, including Tin Nyo Win and his wife, but all have since been moved to government shelters for human-trafficking victims.

Local authorities have been ordered to re-investigate the factory, which is now closed. Police said workers were moved to another shed linked to the same owners. A Gig owner reached by phone declined to comment.

Meanwhile, the AP informed labor rights investigators who work closely with police about another shed where workers said they were being held against their will. It is being examined.


 Editor’s Comment
This story highlights several items. One is slave labor. First, I want to address the “pat argument” of the Multi-national corporations in defending  slave labor which is:”These poor people are lucky to have these jobs, if they didn’t have these jobs they would all go into prostitution.” That is pure poppycock. The truth is the children will go back to school. These workers will find other jobs, obviously not well-paying jobs, but these slave labor jobs are not well-paying either. How is it fair that a worker is automatically started with a high amount of debt that they have to work off? These companies that use slave laborers prey on the helpless and the authorities who oversee slave labor are extremely corrupt and often put workers right back into more slave labor. Here’s a dare to you, Mr. CEO of Wal-Mart. Here is the premise – we do “Undercover Boss” with you disguised as a slave labor shrimp peeler and that you will get absolutely no help. Then we come back in six weeks and see how you do. (The same goes for you who support slave labor.)
Second issue: there is no accountability – this is an inherent problem with “globalization.”  In the USA, if a company is getting its supplies from a company within town, it is inherent that this company will go and inspect that contracted facility and that it will be responsible for the products that are produced. Now, move that same contracted company overseas and suddenly this company does not need to know what is going on and they are not responsible for the treatment of its employees or the products that are produced.  In exchange for cheap slave labor, I guess it is OK to look the other way.
One interesting note: Did you know that the US has a State Department anti-trafficking ambassador?
So, what do we do? Simple – do not spend your money at places that benefit from slave labor.
What can American government do? They could ban all shrimp from Thailand to send a message. Will they do it? This Congress?!! Yea, right. The only laws that pass now are executive orders.
Buy American – there is much less slave labor in the USA.

The Myth of the Ethical Shopper

The Myth of the Ethical Shopper – The Huffington Post.

This is an article that was published in the Huffington Post, written by Michael Hobbes. The article is a long read about 12 pages, if you don’t have time to read the whole thing, see my bullet notes under Editor’s Note.

The Myth Of the Ethical Shopper

There’s this video that went viral earlier this year. On Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, a vending machine is selling plain white T-shirts for €2 each. Customers approach in ones and twos, insert coins, pick a size. Then, before the shirt comes out, a photo appears—a black-and-white image of rows of sewing machines. “Meet Manisha,” the screen reads, dissolving to a close-up of a girl in a headscarf who looks about 16. She earns “as little as 13 cents an hour each day for 16 hours.” The Berliners put their hands over their mouths.“Do you still want to buy this shirt?” the display asks. The menu comes up again. This time, the options are “buy” and “donate.” As the music swells, all the shoppers press “donate.”For a generation now, buying better has been one of our most potent forms of protest. Who doesn’t want to believe that he can rescue Manisha from misery simply by purchasing the right T-shirt? The same idea underpins hundreds of earnest NGO advocacy campaigns urging people to take action against the Swooshtika, Badidas, Killer Coke. It prompted a much-praised John Oliver exposé in which he blasts H&M for selling “suspiciously cheap” clothes sourced in Bangladesh. The only trouble is, this narrative is bullshit.It all started in the mid-’90s, when anti-sweatshop mania burst into the mainstream of American culture. Naked people chanted outside the opening of an Old Navy, Jennifer Love Hewitt led an anti-sweatshop protest on “Party of Five,” Kathie Lee Gifford cried in front of Congress. Nearly every major apparel brand was, at one point or another, the target of a boycott campaign. Radiohead told its millions of fans to read No Logo, Naomi Klein’s investigative polemic against multinational corporations.And for a while there, it worked. The major apparel companies adopted codes of conduct, first banning just the most egregious stuff—workers under 16, forced overtime—then expanding to health and safety, environmental protection and social investment. Since 1998, Nike has followed U.S. clean air standards in all of its factories worldwide, while Levi’s gives financial literacy classes to some of its seamstresses. Every company from Hanes to Halliburton has a social responsibility report. An entire ecosystem of independent inspectors and corporate consultants has sprung up, applying auditing standards that are as pedantic and uncompromising as the NGOs advocating for them.But in the past 25 years, the apparel industry, the entire global economy, has undergone a complete transformation. The way our clothes are made and distributed and thrown away is barely recognizable compared to the way it was done in the ’90s. And yet our playbook for improving it remains exactly the same.This year, I spoke with more than 30 company reps, factory auditors and researchers and read dozens of studies describing what has happened in those sweatshops since they became a cultural fixation three decades ago. All these sources led me to the same conclusion: Boycotts have failed. Our clothes are being made in ways that advocacy campaigns can’t affect and in places they can’t reach. So how are we going to stop sweatshops now?

If you’ve ever been to a corporate social responsibility conference, you’ve undoubtedly heard the story of the three fire extinguishers. The way it goes is, an inspector was walking through a clothing factory in Bangladesh and noticed that it had three fire extinguishers on the wall, one right on top of the other. He asked why, and the manager of the factory told him, “We get audited under three different standards, and they each require us to have a fire extinguisher a different distance from the floor. We got tired of moving the fire extinguisher every time an inspector came, so now we just have one at each height.”This is the world that No Logo built. By the end of the ’90s, a society-wide consensus had formed on how companies should operate their developing-country factories. First, we wanted them to ban all the terrible things we read about in magazines. No more child labor, choked ventilation, abusive bosses, confiscated passports. Companies should apply U.S. working conditions or, at the minimum, follow local laws where they operated. Second, we wanted them to send inspectors to see if those commitments were being met.
And most companies did these things. That was the easy part. The hard part, it turned out, is that these structures aren’t designed to make factories take better care of their workers. They’re designed to make factories look like they are.When you hear the word “inspector,” you think of a sort of detective, walking up and down whirring assembly lines, interviewing workers, interrogating managers. In reality, factory audits are primarily a paperwork exercise. Inspectors typically spend one day—two, tops—at each factory, mostly in the back office, checking time sheets for shift lengths, birth certificates for child labor, pay stubs for wages and overtime.In a 2009 survey, Chinese auditors referred to their work as a “cat-and-mouse game.” They updated their inspections to get around the fraud: asking workers their zodiac signs instead of their birthdays, checking for wrinkles on birth certificates. Then the factories updated their fraud to get around the inspections. Auditors tell me of arriving at factories where the owners play a song over the loudspeakers as a signal to shuffle the child laborers out the back. “Sometimes [employees] answer before you ask the question,” says Rachelle Jackson, director of sustainability and innovation at Arche Advisors, who estimates she’s done around 1,500 audits. “You ask, ‘What time do you start work?’ and they say, ‘Eight hours.’”

Those small-batch, hemp-woven Daisy Dukes you bought in Dumbo are far more likely to be made in a sweatshop than your $7 H&M gym shorts.

For his book The Promise and Limits of Private Power, Brown University’s Richard Locke examined 10 years of Nike inspections. Nike was doing two kinds of audits, one mostly based on paperwork and the other incorporating the impressions of its staff after visiting factories. From 2001 to 2005, the paperwork audit showed that working conditions in almost all of Nike’s suppliers were steadily improving. When Locke checked the qualitative audit, though, he found that nearly 80 percent of them either hadn’t improved—or had gotten worse.

Partly in response to this dynamic, a lot of the big brands switched tactics, moving from wrist-slapping to worker-training. In 2009, Nike set up a model factory in Sri Lanka and sent managers there from all over the world. Since any change in operations can make suppliers less productive at first, the company signed long-term agreements with factories, pledging to stick with them as they learned how to meet deadlines using better methods and safer equipment rather than longer shifts.

But these second-gen practices couldn’t insulate factories from the countries where they operated. The Nike training worked wonders in Mexico, but had no effect in China or Sri Lanka. Between 8 and 10 percent of Mexican workers quit every year. In China, it was that high per month: They were training employees only to send them to other firms. Mexican factories had unions and NGOs telling workers how to take employers to court if they didn’t pay back wages. In China, where labor activism is basically illegal, workers didn’t even know which rights they had, let alone how to exercise them.

Now, I don’t want to give the impression that consumer boycotts were totally useless. Twenty-five years after the movement began, some large suppliers have formalized workforces, provide better health and safety practices and pay above the minimum wage. Ironically, it’s the major brands, the companies that are still the targets of those viral NGO campaigns, which are the most likely to use these factories. The biggest names, after all, have the greatest incentive (and the resources) to defend their reputations. Chikako Oka, a lecturer at Royal Holloway University, found that reputation-conscious companies had 35 percent fewer working violations in their Cambodian factories than did generic brands.

Which leads us to the first flaw with our existing model of anti-sweatshop advocacy. It’s not the largest or the second-largest company we should be worried about anymore. It’s the 44th, or the 207th. Those small-batch, hemp-woven Daisy Dukes you bought in Dumbo are far more likely to be made in a sweatshop than your $7 H&M gym shorts.

But that’s not the only problem. In the last 25 years, as the big brands were getting (somewhat) better at monitoring their supply chains, the entire global apparatus of manufacturing shifted underneath them.

 At 6:45 p.m. on November 24, 2012, the fire alarm went off on the fourth floor of a nondescript building in the suburbs of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Inside, nearly 1,200 garment workers were on deadline, scrambling to complete an order. When the bells started ringing, they asked if they could leave. Their managers told them to go back to their machines.Five minutes later, the floor filled with black smoke; screams could be heard from below. The building had no sprinklers or fire escapes. Workers tried to flee down an internal staircase, but the exits were locked. Those on the lower floors were trapped by boxes of yarn and clothes that had already been completed. The fire eventually engulfed the building, killing at least 112 people and injuring hundreds more. Some broke their backs and legs jumping from the windows.
Most of the workers inside the Tazreen garment factory were making clothing for Western brands: Dickies, Wal-Mart, Disney, all their logos showed up on labels pulled from the rubble. But Tazreen wasn’t yet another example of corporations failing to police conditions in their factories. It was an example of how doing so has become impossible.

We buy more clothes now, move through trends faster. In the olden days—the early ‘90s—brands produced two to four fashion cycles per year, big orders coordinated by season, planned months in advance. These days, there’s no such thing as cycles, only products. If a shirt is selling well, Wal-Mart orders its suppliers to make more. If headbands inexplicably come into fashion, H&M rushes to make millions of them before they go out again.

This flexibility means that factories have to compete on the number of clothing lines they can produce and how quickly they can switch from one to another. Chinese manufacturers that once made four products at a time now make 300. Locke profiles a Honduran supplier that used to have around two months to prepare orders for Western brands—buy fabric, cut T-shirt shapes out of it, sew them together, send them to stores. Now they get one week.

In the fast-fashion era, Western brands can’t afford the luxury of working with the same suppliers and ensuring that they meet the company’s standards. And so, rather than manage a giant, respirating network of factories themselves, most of them have outsourced this coordination to megasuppliers: huge conglomerates that can take a design sketch, split the production between thousands of factories, box up the goods and ship them to stores in less time than they’ll stay in style.

Manufacturing middlemen aren’t new, of course: Those “Nike factories” in Indonesia that Jennifer Love Hewitt marched against were actually run by Taiwanese and Korean firms. What is new, though, is how big the megasuppliers have become and how much of the sector they control.

In Sri Lanka, four companies generate roughly 25 percent of the country’s garment income. Yue Yuen, the Foxconn of footwear, makes one-fifth of all the shoes in the world. The largest apparel megasupplier, Li & Fung, which produces everything from Wal-Mart basics to Disney plush toys to Spanx, has revenues of $19.2 billion; more than Ralph Lauren, Armani and Tommy Hilfiger combined.

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport calls Li & Fung’s operations “ephemeral.” It has 15,000 supplier factories in 40 countries, but doesn’t own or operate any of them. It’s a coordinator, configuring cotton suppliers, textile mills, stitching and sewing houses into a straight line just long enough to deliver one order to one buyer, and then reconfiguring them for the next.

Li & Fung does inspect its suppliers and send reports back to its buyers. But there’s no guarantee that orders will be filled by the same factory twice, and audits are often carried out after the order has already been placed. And so clothing companies have no ability or incentive to fix what they find. It’s like finding out the results of a restaurant health inspection after you’ve already eaten your meal.

In 2013, The New York Times published a sort of greatest-hits of Li & Fung violations: 29 workers killed in a fire in Bangladesh in 2010; at least two workers killed in a “stampede,” also in Bangladesh, in 2011; 280 workers fainting at a facility in Cambodia due to malnourishment and air contamination; a dozen workers fired in Indonesia, allegedly for trying to start a union.

Jeroen Merk, a researcher at the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam—and one of the few academics who’s investigating the megasuppliers—says their business model is deliberately organized to keep buyers separated from factories. If brands discover what factories charge, they might work with them directly and keep the margin for themselves. Some companies ordering clothes through megasuppliers, he says, don’t know which factories they were made in—or even which countries.

In many cases, the megasuppliers don’t know either. Last year, a compliance manager for a European brand told NYU’s Center for Business and Human Rights that small factories in Bangladesh, capable of producing just 10,000 pieces per month, were accepting orders 10 times that large and then filling them through agents, small workshops, and home-based workers. Gale Raj-Reichert, a researcher at the University of Manchester who studies electronics supply chains, met a manufacturer in Malaysia who had no idea which company he was producing for. He got his orders and delivered his goods exclusively through middlemen.

After the Tazreen fire, NGO campaigns focused on how Wal-Mart was responsible for 60 percent of the clothing being produced there. But Wal-Mart never actually placed an order with Tazreen. In fact, over a year before the fire, Wal-Mart inspected the factory and discovered that it was unsafe. By the time of the fire, it had banned its suppliers from using it.

So here’s how its products ended up at Tazreen anyway: Wal-Mart hired a megasupplier called Success Apparel to fill an order for shorts. Success hired another company, Simco, to carry out the work. Simco—without telling Success, much less Wal-Mart—sub-contracted 7 percent of the order to Tazreen’s parent company, the Tuba Group, which then assigned it to Tazreen. Two other sub- (or sub-sub-sub-) contractors also placed Wal-Mart orders at Tazreen, also without telling the company.

It was the same with many of the other brands whose labels were found in Tazreen: They either didn’t know their clothes were being produced there or had explicitly banned the factory as a supplier. Those companies now say that, because the orders violated their policies, they’re not obligated to compensate victims.

It’s tempting to think that we can do something about this. Boycott the companies that use megasuppliers, maybe. Last year, partly over concerns about sub-contracting, Wal-Mart “in-sourced” its production back from Li & Fung and started coordinating its own network of suppliers.

But the Wal-Marts of the world can’t magically un-link themselves from the pressures of global supply and demand. Instead, companies that in-source production just become their own megasuppliers. Subcontractors can still deceive auditors or farm out orders without telling Wal-Mart. For smaller companies, the ones NGOs aren’t watching, in-sourcing isn’t even an option.

And besides, going after the megasuppliers just moves the tired name-and-shame routine one layer down. Auditors tell me Li & Fung, just like the companies it sells to, has good factories and bad ones. As it grows, it is finding reasons to defend its public reputation—it is still the only company that has directly paid compensation to the victims of Tazreen. The worst conditions probably aren’t in Li & Fung factories, but in the ones a few billion in revenue down the rankings. In Cambodia, a group of South Korean intermediaries, all of them with names you’ve never heard, are backing a lawsuit against their own workers, demanding that they pay back $200 million in revenue the companies lost during a strike.

Consumers’ power, to the extent we had any, depended on brands forcing their supply chains to do better. Now they—and we—are losing that power. And that’s still not the worst of it. The really atrocious violations, the ones most likely to proliferate, are in places where we have no influence at all.

In Delhi’s garment cluster, “children start learning the job at the age of 8,” writes the University of London’s Alessandra Mezzadri. “They master it by the age of 12.” She calls the area a “composite sweatshop”: For every tailor working in a factory, there are several employed in homes, workshops or backyards. Around 80 percent of the workers are informal — mostly migrants, some of them trafficked, hired and fired as orders are commissioned and completed, divvied out by brokers, paid a few cents for each piece of clothing they deliver. The children get paid half as much as the adults. During her fieldwork, she found kids sitting on apartment floors, sewing and cutting, often under the supervision of their parents.Vignettes like these are usually invoked to condemn us for our own complicity in these wages, these workshops. Delhi’s garment workers aren’t producing clothes for export, though. They’re sewing saris and embroidering clothes destined for Indian and Bangladeshi and Pakistani shelves, not Western ones.
This, Mezzadri told me, is “why child labor persists.” Factories in developing countries that send clothes to export markets need to at least look like they’re complying with social standards. For domestic markets, they don’t.Maybe even more than the other reasons I’ve outlined, this is why consumer advocacy campaigns are never going to improve working conditions in the developing world: Western markets simply don’t matter as much as they used to. India produces twice as much clothing for its own consumers as it does for us. Fifty-six percent of the clothing produced in China is for the Chinese market. Both of those numbers are only going to grow.And it’s not just developing countries selling stuff to themselves. They’re also selling a rapidly expanding share to each other. From 2008 to 2013, the fastest-growing demand for apparel was in China, Eastern Europe, India, Turkey and Brazil. Garment exports from Bangladesh to other poor countries have grown by as much as 50 percent per year.Rich countries make up just one-tenth of the world’s population. In the next 15 years, their share of consumption is expected to fall from 64 percent to 30 percent. Most of the 1.2 billion people the global economy added to the middle class in the last 15 years earn between $2 and $13 per day. “The nature of demand will be for cheap, undifferentiated goods,” says a World Bank report—exactly the kinds of products that are most likely to be made in supply chains with low or nonexistent labor standards.This shift is already eroding the meager gains we’ve made protecting labor conditions and the environment in poor countries. The timber sector in Gabon, for example, used to specialize in high-quality, processed lumber for European customers. Exporting to OECD countries meant that all the wood had to comply with local labor laws and Forestry Code guidelines on sustainability and biodiversity.By 2007, however, the sector was selling 80 percent of its timber to China and India. Exporters shifted to selling unprocessed logs, which generate less profit and create one-quarter as many jobs as plywood. Since they now compete on quantity, rather than quality, they cut down three times as many trees to make the same revenue. Their new buyers don’t require environmental and labor certifications, so they’ve fallen away.It’s the same in Burma. In the two years after its military dictatorship uncorked in 2011, $40 billion in foreign investment poured in. Most of it came from Chinese, Malaysian, Singaporean and Thai companies; as of 2013, the United States was only the ninth largest investor. The results are about what you would expect. Earlier this year, more than 2,000 Burmese workers marched in protest outside a factory producing for E-Land, the South Korean-owned conglomerate that is now the largest women’s-apparel retailer in China. The workers were demanding a raise from $1 per day. The factory was in a special economic zone; the workers were arrested on the pretext that they didn’t have a permit for the demonstration.

Asian companies investing in Burma aren’t run by worse or greedier people than ours are. They’re just operating under a different risk calculus. American firms putting more than $500,000 into the country are required to publicly report their land acquisitions, payments to local officials, and security arrangements. If they get busted doing something heinous, they’ll end up on front pages. Developing-country multinationals don’t have these pressures.

The standard response here is that, as Chinese consumers get richer, they, too, will start demanding pesticide-free apples, cruelty-free jeans, dolphin-free tuna. And indeed, China has passed tons of legislation the past few years to improve working conditions and even requires reporting by its companies abroad. But pointing to these small (and un-enforced) steps ignores other countries that have climbed up the income ladder and haven’t brought social concerns with them.

There have been no major consumer movements in Hong Kong against Li & Fung. South Korea has the same per capita GDP as New Zealand, but has shown no interest in regulating its companies abroad. Khalid Nadvi, a professor at the University of Manchester, says there have been no cases of Chinese consumers agitating over foreign working conditions. “The emerging middle class in China is first and second generation,” he says. “Many of them worked in the kinds of factories we’re advocating to improve.”

As more and more of the world’s economy takes place without us, we need to change the way we think about going after sweatshops. There’s only one idea I’ve heard that has the potential to address the flawed audits, the opaque megasuppliers and the changes in global consumption all at once.

 Not so long ago, the laborers in Brazil who made pig-iron, an essential ingredient in stainless steel, lived in hopelessly grim conditions. They would set up in a clearing in the Amazonian rainforest, burn the trees to charcoal, sell it to smelters, then move to another clearing and start over. They tended 1000-degree furnaces barefoot, earning wages just low enough to keep them trapped in a cycle of debt to their employer or a labor broker. The furnaces were small-scale, informal, everywhere. A Brazilian labor inspector told a researcher in 2004, “I saw cattle living in better conditions than the workers.”Penalizing the furnaces wasn’t an option: Brazil produced millions of tons of pig iron every year like this. Busting a single operator, or even dozens, would only add fines to the cost of doing business.
Instead, the inspectors got creative. Working with public prosecutors, they unearthed an obscure judicial statement that prohibited companies from outsourcing their “core” activities. They told the smelters, the ones buying the charcoal, that from now on it was their responsibility to make sure furnaces weren’t employing forced labor.Inspectors went up the chain too, convincing the country’s largest iron-ore company to sell only to smelters that could prove their charcoal came from replanted forests and not illegal first-growth timber. They worked with state-run banks to cut off smelters from subsidized credit for two years if they didn’t closely monitor their suppliers.Suddenly, the smelters were responsible for ensuring that their raw material was produced under decent conditions. They founded an industry-wide auditing body and started sending quality experts and auditors out in pickups to check on the furnaces. By 2009, the percentage of charcoal made from illegal timber had dropped from 60 percent to 30 percent. Workers were signing contracts and earning higher wages. Furnaces were cooperating with smelters to produce higher-grade iron.All of this, it should be obvious by now, would have been impossible for private auditors. Most of that pig-iron was being bought by foreign car companies. Sure, they could have done more inspections, delivered some training, or threatened to pull orders. But encouraging smelters to move into higher-grade, more profitable exports would have been directly against the car companies’ interests.Yet this is how we expect to bring about better labor conditions in poor countries. Instead of empowering domestic agencies with a mandate to prevent abuses, we rely on international corporations seeking to insulate themselves from bad publicity.Nearly all of the horror stories that show up in consumer campaigns are illegal in the countries where they take place. These countries simply don’t have anyone to enforce the laws. Bangladesh has just 125 labor inspectors for 75 million workers. Cambodian inspectors, on average, earn less than half as much as the garment workers whose conditions they’re supposed to be safeguarding. Uganda, with 40 million people, has only 120 practitioners capable of carrying out environmental impact assessments. In Burma, regional governments have received more than 6,000 complaints related to land revocations, but have investigated fewer than 300 of them.That’s why Brazil is so startling. It has 10,000 public prosecutors and 3,000 inspectors, all making monthly salaries of at least $5,000. The inspectors collaborate with other government agencies, workers, unions and NGOs, not just to find the most outrageous violations, but to actually fix them.NYU’s Salo Coslovsky, from whom I stole the pig-iron example, says Brazilian inspectors act more like McKinsey consultants than cops. Just as schoolteachers don’t enforce every rule every time it’s broken, he says, inspectors are allowed to overlook minor transgressions (making workers stay late to get an order completed) to solve bigger ones (outdated machinery, dangerous buildings, systematic discrimination).When inspectors wanted to reduce child labor, they convened parents, schools, and farms, created maps of the areas where the worst abuses were likely to happen, and dispatched vans full of auditors to prevent them. When public prosecutors wanted to keep shrimp farms from polluting the shore, they worked with three separate government agencies to relocate farmers away from riverbanks. “It’s a kind of regulatory acupuncture,” says Roberto Pires, a researcher at the Institute for Applied Economic Research, a think tank in Brasília, “finding the specific points where applying pressure can provoke systemic effects.”In another case, inspectors found that auto-parts manufacturers were using outdated metal-stamping machines. Those factories were responsible for almost half the country’s industrial accidents, including hand, arm and finger amputations. Inspectors couldn’t make factory owners buy new machines—that would have cost millions of dollars. So they worked with a health and safety think tank, as well as state banks, to retrofit the existing machines. Two years later, accidents across the industry had fallen by 66 percent.All this discretion and autonomy, these cowboy inspectors roaming the countryside, sounds like an invitation for corruption. But everyone I speak with says it’s far less of a problem than you’d think. That’s in part because the inspectors are required to do far more than just complete a certain number of investigations per month. Instead, they write qualitative summaries of which worksites they’ve visited, what problems they’ve found and what they’re doing to address them.

Listening to consumer advocacy campaigns, you’d think our only influence on the developing world is at the cash register.

This process wasn’t easy in Brazil, and it won’t be anywhere else. Brazil’s inspectorate spent more than 30 years justifying its existence. Its farms and factories are not nice places to work in by any absolute definition of the term, and will not be for a long time. The corruption and inefficiency of developing country governments can’t be solved simply with more employees.

But going around these governments won’t solve any problems either. One theory on why last year’s Ebola outbreak was so bad is that local hospitals, after years of being bypassed by international NGOs, didn’t have the training or equipment they needed to treat their own communities. For decades, we’ve been doing the same thing with factories. In the ’90s, while we were telling Western companies to audit their suppliers, the World Bank was telling them that government inspectors didn’t need to anymore.

Listening to consumer advocacy campaigns, you’d think our only influence on the developing world was at the cash register. But our real leverage is with our policies, not our purchases. In the ’90s, the U.S. told Cambodia that to sell its clothes here, it had to open up every single garment factory to International Labor Organization inspections. Trade agreements require developing countries to establish huge intellectual-property inspection bodies to raid markets for bootleg Blu-rays. We just need to offer poor workers the same kinds of protection we give pharmaceutical patents.

As for Western companies, we shouldn’t let them off the hook. But let’s be clear: All of those emerging-market multinationals that South Korea and China are sending abroad have operations in the United States, too. Foxconn has a factory in Indiana. It is not a sweatshop. That isn’t because Foxconn carries out such great audits or offers entrepreneurship classes. It’s because it is located in a country with functioning institutions.

We are not going to shop ourselves into a better world. Advocating for boring stuff like complaint mechanisms and formalized labor contracts is nowhere near as satisfying as buying a pair of Fair Trade sandals or whatever. But that’s how the hard work of development actually gets done: Not by imploring people to buy better, but by giving them no other option. After all, that naked protest of Old Navy in the ’90s? Behind the 50 demonstrators, a line of 300 customers stretched
around the block.


Story – Michael Hobbes

Michael is a human rights consultant in Berlin. He’s written for The New Republic, Slate and The Huffington Post.
Art – Abigail Goh

Abigail is an illustrator living in New York. Her work has been selected for Society of Illustrators and American Illustration.
Editor’s Note
Michael Hobbes article is spot on so many points. Boycotting products for ethical concerns is actually a relatively new phenomenon. It seems to correlate with the US outsourcing jobs in earnest in the 1990’s. “Ethical Boycotting” has effected changes and its ultimate target is: No more child labor, choked ventilation, abusive bosses, confiscated passports, paid overtime, safer working environments and just compensation. Ethical Boycotts have been hit and miss – while some disasters enrage the public, some do not. The reason why some stories don’t motivate the public are: short-attention span of the public, apathy, ethical burn-out, the distance of the victims from the public (overseas? who cares) and (lately) who to blame which is the latest favorite theme that the mega-companies. The best examples of this are the Tarzeen clothing factory fire in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 11/24/12 that killed 112 people and the Rana Building collapse also in Bangladesh that killed 1138 clothing workers on 4/24/13. It both cases, these factories were making clothing for some of the Mega-companies (In the Tarzeen fire 60% of the clothing was being made for Wal-Mart), however, the Mega-companies said that they didn’t directly contract these companies, they were sub-contracted from their contracted supplier. (Mr. Hobbes does a good job on demonstrating this game of “cat and mouse” whether its not enforcing employment rules or contractor/not-contractor game.)
Mr. Hobbes does bring up an example in Brazil where ethical compassion did work – it made inspectors the focal point of cleaning up the industry of the pig-iron. However, I do not think that this method can be made universal. My idea is simpler, make the mega companies responsible for all products produced and for the employees whether they are direct employees, contracted employees, or sub-contracted employees. This would make the companies “serious” about their inspections, instead of the sham inspections they do presently. Boycotting does effect change. Think of it this way, corporations are in it solely for the profits, period. If their profits recede, they will change their ways or say they will change their ways – after protests, just look at the number of times Wal-Mart said they will make things right. After the Rana Building Collapse, Wal-Mart said they are going to invest $250 Billion in products that support the creation of U.S. jobs. See boycotting does work.
The best quote of the article: “We just need to offer poor workers the same kinds of protection we give pharmaceutical patents.”
Thanks to my friend, Cameron Oba, for pointing out this article to me.

Wal-Mart’s request moves toothbrush production to Michigan from China Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart’s request moves toothbrush production to Michigan from China |

Maybe Wal-Mart is serious about making things made in the USA.

Tooth brush heads manufactured at the Ranir plant in Kenwood, Michigan

Toothbrush heads manufactured at the Ranir plant in Kenwood, Michigan

Wal-Mart’s Request Moves Toothbrush Production to Michigan from China

KENTWOOD, MI — Those toothbrush heads you buy at Wal-Mart will now be American-made.

Ranir, the largest maker of store brand toothbrushes and oral care products, is shifting production in China to its Michigan headquarters at the request of the retail giant.

The company will now make an additional 400,000 power toothbrush heads a month in its Kentwood facility at 4701 E. Paris Ave SE.

Making the switch required Ranir to invest $3 million to add 7,500 square feet of new high-tech equipment. It is also hiring 19 employees, a stat that Wal-Mart is tracking.

Ranir’s efforts are helping the world’s biggest retailer meet a new long term goal.

“We committed to spending another $250 billion on products made in the United States over 10 years, and in the long run we think that can create 250,000 manufacturing jobs in the United States,” Wal-Mart executive Joe Quinn told MLive and The Grand Rapids Press.

Quinn, the senior director of public affairs and government relations for Walmart U.S., flew in from the retailer’s Bentonville, Ark. headquarters to visit Ranir on Tuesday, June 16, for an expansion ribbon-cutting ceremony at the West Michigan facility. The expansion celebration included a tour of the high-tech factory.

The new hires are significant for the company, said Ranir CEO Christine Henisee.

“It sounds like a small amount, but the more we see this, the more we secure the entire 500-plus site that it is here and not get tempted to say let’s move it to Mexico or China,” Henisee said.

Wal-Mart, which has been criticized for playing a role in driving manufacturing overseas to low-wage countries by demanding suppliers cut costs, is about two and half years into its ‘Made in the USA’ initiative.

Quinn said he couldn’t share the progress Walmart has made toward its goal either in spending or adding U.S. jobs.

While Quinn says Walmart is sincere in its goal to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. that doesn’t mean the retailer is willing to give up being a low-price leader in the retail sector.

Ranir won the contract because it was able to use new technology to meet Wal-Mart’s price and quality requirements for the products while simplifying the supply chain and the speed to market. The contract could lead to more direct jobs at Ranir as well as draw more suppliers to the area.

“The reality of Wal-Mart is that you walk through a Walmart and you see tens of thousands of items,” Quinn said. “Behind every single item you see there is a massive supply chain like this and there is inevitably a company like this that is thinking about what the electric toothbrush of the future should look like and what is the technology and how you can bring it back from Asia.”

As part of its push to bring off-shore manufacturing back to the U.S., Wal-Mart is highlighting the need for a trained workforce.

“Certainly in a state like Michigan that has a huge heritage of manufacturing, people understand that,” Quinn said.

Wal-Mart spends $2.9 billion annually on buying products from Michigan companies, said Quinn, sourcing Dun and Bradstreet, a business database.

Henisee, who has been invited by the retailer to speak at a summit in Bentonville next month about bringing manufacturing back from China, agrees that is a major issue. Finding engineers and candidates with technical training has been challenging, she said.

Editor’s Note

It is great to see good news coming from Wal-Mart who plays both sides of the fence. Let us not put Wal-Mart into the “saint” category just yet. We shall see what future plans Wal-Mart has before making any judgements. Thanks to the Alliance for American Manufacturing for pointing out this story.


The True Cost | A Fashion Documentary Movie

The True Cost | A Fashion Documentary Movie.

I have just reviewed Andrew Morgan’s Documentary “The True Cost.” It is an extremely professional and entertaining film about a rather complex and sometimes gloomy subject which is the impact of Fast Fashion. Fast Fashion is the term used for the recent phenomenon where clothes have become so cheap (due to them being outsourced to countries like China, Bangladesh and India) that they have become disposable. Mr. Morgan starts the film with Fashion models on runways and intersperses commercials from H& M, Zara and others to make the connection between fashion and all of the problems they have created ( many that we didn’t even realize). Some of the issues brought up by the film are: “global poverty, inequality  and environmental destruction” according to Producer Micheal Ross.

The premiere of The True Cost in Cannes: Colin Firth, Livia Firth Andrew Moran and Paul Ross

The premiere of The True Cost in Cannes: Colin Firth, Livia Firth, Andrew Moran and Michael Ross

This independent film which was originally funded through Kickstarter (a crowd-sourcing funding source – by the way I was an Associate Producer for the film and got film credit) opened up this past week in Los Angeles, Cannes, France, New York, Tokyo and London. Many celebrities and Fashion icons had attended these premieres including Stella McCarthy, Colin Firth and Tom Ford. It opens tonight May 31, 2015 in San Francisco.

The Journey

Andrew Morgan and Michael Ross went to thirteen different countries to film this ambitious project which took over two years to complete. Interwoven throughout the movie is a 23 year old Bangladeshi worker who has a 6 year old daughter and covers some of her difficulties. The reason for following a Bangladeshi worker is that Mr. Morgan was originally inspired by the Rana Plaza Building collapse that killed 1138 Bangladeshi garment workers – most of them women.

The problems from Fast Fashion: starting from the beginning, delves into the subject of cotton. But, in going very deeply into cotton, possibly Mr. Morgan was sweeping his brush a bit too widely – I mean it wasn’t wrong but it does make it difficult to cover more deeply other subjects. By bringing in organic cotton, it does bring in the subject of pesticides which cause cancer, birth defects and environmental pollution. I do admire Mr. Morgan going after Monsanto which has monopolized the farming industry in every way and have made the independent farmers poor and dependent on Monsanto itself- but some may criticize that Monsanto is not a direct linear problem due to Fast Fashion. True, Monsanto is a concurrent problem along with Fast Fashion, as is, the current state of American capitalism where profits mean everything to the exclusion of everything else. The profits over everything philosophy is defended in the documentary by Free Market advocates and Big Business Top executives – they never flinch that this might be wrong – which has always been the case with hard-core capitalists. But, it is the main point of the documentary that will still need to be debated. Is it wrong for Wal-Mart to bargain to make the Bangladesh factories make shirts for $5, and then next month see if they can make them for $4? Whose fault is it? Wal-Mart or the desperate factory owner willing to cut corners? Is it the Mega company that hires these companies and has them sign agreements that promises that they will not mistreat employees and then knowingly let these companies break these agreements or is it the companies that cut the corners in order to get the job in the race to the bottom? One obvious solution is that when the Mega companies hire “these contract Factories” that these factories automatically become employees of that Mega Company. Easy solution, however, big business will never submit to this – unless legally forced to.

Another topic brought up regarding Fast Fashion is the problems with just the sheer volume of clothing being produced – the abundant use of resources, the disposal of clothing into numerous landfills, the unintended economic consequence of used clothing dumped into Haiti and the ecological disasters it has caused.

The documentary touches on many issues, however, Mr. Morgan does not give solutions. But, it wasn’t his intent.  It is hoped that this film will start some discussions on these subjects like: do we need consumerism and materialism to be happy? Isn’t it insane for us to be buying stuff we don’t need?

I highly recommend this film. See it in the theatres or you can buy it online at truecostmovie.


▶ Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Fashion (HBO) – YouTube

▶ Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Fashion (HBO) – YouTube.

This funny 17 minute Video by John Oliver on “Last Week Tonight” is really a like a culmination of all of my blog entries over the past three years : Fast Fashion, How companies avoid blame, child labor, slave labor, and the Bangladesh clothing factory tragedies.


The Photojournalist Who Happened Upon The Worst Disaster In The History Of The Clothing Industry

The Photojournalist Who Happened Upon The Worst Disaster In The History Of The Clothing Industry. This is one year anniversary of the largest disaster in garment manufacturing history. On April 24, 2013, 1138 garment workers died when the Rana Building in Bangladesh collapsed due to shoddy construction and incompetent management which kept people working in known dangerous conditions.  This is a 5 minute and 10 second video from photographer, Ismail Ferdous,  who was there at the time. The video is called “The Deadly Cost of Fashion.” (From Upworthy).

Don’t forget to see my original posts about the Bangladesh disasters under “Categories” – Bangladesh. See especially the two posts: “Second Massive Disaster to Bangladesh Clothing Factory Within 5 Months.” and  “Reform Follows Bangladesh Tragedies except Wal-Mart Refuses to Sign Up.” Wal-Mart has pretty much blocked any reforms that should have followed this disaster, while initially promising to change.

Bangladesh Factory collapse

Bangladesh Factory collapse

The Pope Speaks Out

On May 1, 2013, Pope Francis spoke out against the working conditions in the factory:

A Headline that really struck me on the day of the tragedy in Bangladesh was ‘Living on 38 Euros a month’. That is what the people who died were being paid. This is called slave labor. Today in the world this slavery is being committed against something beautiful that God has given us – the capacity to create, to work, to have dignity. How many brothers and sisters find themselves in this situation?! Not paying fairly, not giving a job because you are only looking at balance sheets, only looking at how to make a profit. That goes against God!


There is a petition out to have Wal-Mart and Children’s Palace help with compensation for the 1,138 garment workers who perished in the Rana Building collapse. The link has the story of one employee who survived this disaster. His name is Aklima Khanam, who is 20 years old and has been working in garment factories since the age of 14 (Childhood Labor is legal in Bangladesh). Mr Khanam describes the working conditions at the Rana Building factory. People hear these stories all the time here in America, but, they, either, don’t believe them (denial) or they don’t care (apathy). I think it is a lot of both. (As long as it’s cheap). Petition to Fairly Compensate the Bangladesh factory Workers

CBS Money Watch Video

Here is another 2 minute 50 second video from CBS Money Watch called “The Bangladesh Factory Collapse One Year Later.” This interview basically says that nothing has changed and that something like this could happen again.


Do not buy from slave labor. It’s not worth it. I leave you with a quote from a Bangladeshi women after a factory fire that also killed 112 garment workers who were trapped inside due to chained up windows in November 29 2012, “They died for your clothes.”


December 2019
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