Published on Global Research.ca, by Stephen Lendman, 2009-10-16.
In July 2008, SweatFree Communities (SFC) released a report titled, “Subsidizing Sweatshops: How Our Tax Dollars Fund the Race to the Bottom, and What Cities and States Can Do” in which it studied 12 factories in nine countries that produce employee uniforms for nine major companies.
Widespread human and labor rights violations were revealed, including child labor; illegal below-poverty wages; few or no benefits; forced or unpaid overtime; hazardous working conditions; verbal, physical, and sexual abuses; forced pregnancy testing to be hired and while employed; excessive long working hours causing physical ailments, stress, and harm; denial of free expression, association, and collective bargaining rights; and elaborate schemes to commit fraud and deceive corporate auditors …
… follow exemples from Honduras, Mexico, Dominic Republic, Bedford in Massachussett/USA, still Mexico, still Honduras, China, Frackville in Pennsylvania/USA …
… Anti-Sweatshop Legislation in Congress:
On January 23, 2007, S. 367: The Decent Working Conditions and Fair Competition Act (on dorgan.senate.gov, see also on wikipedia) was introduced in the Senate “to amend the Tariff Act of 1930 to prohibit the import, export, and sale of goods made with sweatshop labor, and for other purposes.” It was referred to committee but never passed.
On April 23, 2007, HR 1992: The Decent Working Conditions and Fair Competition Act was introduced in the House for the same purpose. It, too, was referred to committee but never passed.
Both bills were introduced in a previous congressional session and failed. They may be re-introduced later in 2009.
Sweatshop labor takes different forms, some far worse than others. On February 14, 2007, Charles Kernaghan, Executive Director of the National Labor Committee in Support of Human and Worker Right, testified about the worst kind at a Senate committee hearing on Overseas Sweatshop Abuses, Their Impact on US Workers, and the Need for Anti-Sweatshop Legislation.
Citing the December 2001 US – Jordan Free Trade Agreement, he gave examples of human trafficking and involuntary servitude abuses that followed:
- Jordan’s 114 garment factories employ over 36,000 foreign guest workers from Bangladesh, China, Sri Lanka and India;
- Bangladeshi guest workers had to borrow at exorbitant interest rates $1,000 – $3,000 to pay unscrupulous manpower agencies for two-to-three year contracts to obtain work;
- they were trapped in involuntary servitude at one factory and couldn’t leave;
- they were promised benefits, then reneged on, including free food, housing, medical care, vacations, sick days, and at least one day a week off;
- on arrival in Jordan, their passports were seized;
- they were forced to work shifts of “15, 38, 48, and even 72 hours straight, often going two or three days without sleep;”
- they worked seven days a week for as little as 2 cents an hour, 98 hours a week;
- those complaining were beaten and abused;
- 28 workers shared one small 12 x 12-foot dorm with access to running water only every third day;
- legally owed back wages were never paid nor were factory owners prosecuted for human trafficking, involuntary servitude, or treating their employees abusively;
- they sewed clothing for Wal-Mart; and
- other Jordanian, Chinese and other factory workers are treated the same way; some worked under conditions so hazardous that “scores of young people (are) seriously injured, and some maimed for life.”
Kernaghan’s National Labor Committee NLC web site highlights the problem by saying that corporate predators “roam the world to find the cheapest and most vulnerable workers … mostly young women in Central America, Mexico, Bangladesh, China, and other poor nations, many working 12 to 14-hour days for pennies an hour.”
Corporate unaccountability is responsible for this moral crisis of our time – a dehumanized, expendable workforce ruthlessly exploited for profit. NLC believes worker rights are as inalienable as human rights and civil liberties and says “now is the time to secure them for (everyone) on the planet.” (full long text).
Sweatshop Workers by Google Images-result;