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Sweatshop labor is something we hear all too often but do you know what a sweatshop really is? A sweatshop is defined by the United States Department of Labor as company that breaks 2 or more federal laws. Sweatshops are inhumane, companies force people to work in unsafe, unsanitary, for low wages, and use children as well. Companies make millions each year off of sweatshop labor.
Are the items you purchase made in a sweatshop? If you shop at places like Walmart, Nike, Victoria’s Secret, or Calvin Kline then more than likely yes they are. Some common items that we buy that are made in sweatshops are shoes, clothes, coffee, and bananas. In 1992 Nike was exposed by Jeff Ballinger in his Harper article after he exposed an Indonesian employee subcontractor who made only .14 cents per hour; this is not even the required minimum wage in Indonesia as well as other documented abuses. “Many of these workers do not like describing their workplaces as “sweatshops”, because they think it makes them sound like victims. But these workers know their wages and conditions are unacceptably low and many of them organize protests to demand better wages and conditions, even though doing so can put their jobs at risk” (Oxfam. (2014, January 1). When products are made in places where the workers are unhappy they usually produce lower quality items because they are tired, hungry, and severely overworked and under paid. Workers work better when they are treated fairly and happy in the work environment.
Why do sweatshops happen? They happen because of global trade and “free trade”, companies look for ways to cut costs and maximize profit one way to do this is to look for areas where the minimum wage is low, and with virtually no human rights protection. An estimated 250 million children between the ages of 5-14 are forced to work in sweatshops and because of high demand they are also not permitted to go to night school, these children work Monday-Friday and usually 60-80 hours a week. You can find sweatshops all around Central and South America, Asia, and some parts of Europe. , “There are even undocumented workers in sweatshops in places like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles” (DO something. (2014, January 1).
How can we stop companies from profiting off of sweatshops? We can draw attention to the problem, when people see the issues first hand or read about them in their newspaper and they will stop buying that brand and thus hurting profits. Monitor companies practices better, every six months investigate a company and check into the labor practices, make bigger fines and punishments for unlawful practices. We can stop buying sweatshop brands altogether by looking for labels that contain Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) formally known as ‘no sweatshop’. This means that the product was made in Australia under the Award Wages and Conditions program. The ECA is a combined Business-Union creativity overseen by independent and not-for-profit team of management that is mostly funded by the government, they also receive money from endorsement dues. The money is used to provide ECA’s endorsement and labeling program. Some of the ECA brands include Creswick, Cue, Jets, and smart stuff.
In conclusion sweatshops only help companies make money by using people as paws in their little game of greed. Forcing people to work in unsafe, unsanitary conditions, using children for labor, and paying as little as possible to make millions every year and invest into marketing. Sweatshops can be found all over Central and South America, Asia, and some parts of Europe there have even been some incidents in the US in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Nike, Victoria’s Secret, Calvin Kline, and Walmart all produces item in sweatshops, items we buy everyday like clothes, shoes, under garments, and such. If we put regulations to these environments and make a US based company follow US rules no matter where they do business this could potentially help stop sweatshops from occurring or better yet and stop buying sweatshop linked brands all together and help put a stop to the millions in profits. We need to put a stop to child labor all together. Children need to be in school learning not working, starving, tired, and making a living at the sweatshop. All these things combined would help to put an end to sweatshop labor and improve the quality of life for many people.
11 Facts About Sweatshops. (2014, January 1). DoSomething.org. Retrieved July 25, 2014, from https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-sweatshops Background on Sweatshops. (2014, January 1). Do Something. Retrieved July 25, 2014, from https://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/background-sweatshops# Nisen, M. (2013, May 9). How Nike Solved Its Sweatshop Problem. Business Insider. Retrieved July 25, 2014, from http://www.businessinsider.com/how-nike-solved-its-sweatshop-problem-2013-5 Oxfam. (2014, January 1). Are your clothes made in sweatshops? | Oxfam Australia. Oxfam Australia. Retrieved July 25, 2014, from https://www.oxfam.org.au/explore/workers-rights/are-your-clothes-made-in-sweatshops/