sweatshops

This is one effective form of protest. Buzzfeed writes:

Workers incensed by rumors of a co-worker’s death in a police firing burned down one of Bangladesh’s 10 biggest garment factories supplying to major Western brands on Nov. 29:

According to authorities, factory workers were enraged after a loudspeaker from a mosque announced a worker’s death during a police firing to disperse a road blockade by factory employees earlier that day.

Six months’ worth of supplies for U.S. brands, including Gap and Wal-Mart, were burnt in the fire. Other burnt garments included those from huge global brands such as American Eagle Outfitters, Marks and Spencer, Sears, Uniqlo, and Zara. A Standard Group official estimated that the firm could lose well over $100 million in the fire.


Vast numbers of workers who sew the clothing of many of America’s biggest brands didn’t get the memo that they are supposed to be grateful for 12 cents an hour in awful conditions. Al Jazeera America writes:

Garment factory workers in Bangladesh protested for the third day in a row Monday, calling on their government to raise the minimum wage from about $38 dollars per month to $100. Garment workers often labor up to 80 hours per week.

The protests forced the shutdown of hundreds of factories in the industrial Gazipur neighborhood near the capital, Dhaka, where factory owners and government officials called for workers to return to work.

Western corporations that rely on Bangladeshi labor to make much of the clothing sold in their stores — including Walmart, Gap and H&M — appeared reluctant to comment publicly on the protests.

Abdul Baten, police chief of the Gazipur industrial district, told AFP that “up to 200,000 workers” had joined the latest demonstrations.




Russian police just raided a secret underground city beneath Moscow inhabited by hundreds of illegal immigrant workers employed making clothing at rows of sewing machines. The subterranean world, where the workers were allegedly kept by lock, had no natural light but did have a market, cafe, chicken coop, casino, and movie cinema. What a metaphor for our economic structure:




Rueters reports on major unrest at the source of the world’s baubles:

About 2,000 Chinese employees of an iPhone assembly company fought a pitched battle into the early hours of Monday, forcing the huge electronics plant where they work to be shut down.

Authorities in the northern city of Taiyuan sent 5,000 police to restore order. On Monday evening, paramilitary police with riot shields, helmets and batons guarded one entrance of the massive factory complex, while an announcement over loudspeakers said there had been a criminal incident the night before and urged people to respect the law.

Employees and people posting messages online accused factory guards of provoking the trouble by beating up workers at the factory, which is owned by the world’s largest contract maker of electronic goods.






ouanaminthe_784119Wikileaks unveils an incredibly infuriating revelation, via the Nation. To sum up: desperately poor Haiti planned to raise its minimum wage from 24 cents per hour to 62 cents, angering the contractors for U.S. corporations such as Levis and Hanes, who pay slave wages to Haitians who sew our clothes. The Obama administration intervened on behalf of those companies, and bullied the Haitian government into setting the mark at 32 cents.

To put things in perspective, upping the hourly wage to 62 cents would have cost Hanes an additional $1.6 million each year. Hanesbrands turned $211 million in profit last year and CEO Richard Noll personally was paid $10 million.




From the Global Post comes a five-part series called “Silicon Sweatshops” examining the supply chains behind gadgets like iPods, Nokia phones, Dell computers, and more: Whether it’s your cherished iPhone, Nokia cell…