Tag Archives | sweatshops

Mass Fainting Epidemics Strike Cambodian Factories

110824_5A subtle form of protest? A mysterious ailment? Workers keep spontaneously fainting en masse at Cambodian clothing factories (where, if you were wondering, they are paid 30 cents an hour to sew clothing for global brands). The Phnom Penh Post reports:

Another mass fainting incident struck a garment factory yesterday, this time in the provincial capital of Kampong Chhnang where more than 100 workers at M&V factory collapsed, company and union representatives said yesterday. Staff began falling to the factory floor at about 9:00am. A factory supplying sportswear giant Puma was hit by fainting twice this year: at the end of last month and in April.

“We don’t know why they fainted.” Company representative Un Chhan Teak said there was no connection between the mass fainting and working conditions, and that the fainting was a result of shock. After one or two women collapsed, the others panicked and followed suit, he explained.

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The Pentagon’s Invisible Third-World Army

iraqWhen enlistment is down, what’s the military to do? Outsource. Seventy thousand of the people in the Pentagon’s war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan are not U.S. soldiers, but “third-country nationals” — Filipinos launder our soldiers’ uniforms, Bosnians repair electrical grids, Indians serve up iced lattes. Many say they are being held in conditions resembling indentured servitude by subcontractors who operate outside the law, the New Yorker reports:

In the morning of October 10, 2007, the beauticians boarded their flight to the Emirates. They carried duffelbags full of cosmetics, family photographs, Bibles, floral sarongs. More than half of the women left husbands and children behind. In the rush to depart, none of them examined the fine print on their travel documents: their visas to the Emirates weren’t employment permits but thirty-day travel passes that forbade all work, “paid or unpaid”. And Dubai was just a stopping-off point. They were bound for U.S.

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Wikileaks: U.S. Forced Haiti To Nix Raising Its Minimum Wage To 62 Cents

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.

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United States Becomes Sweden’s Third-World Outsourcing Destination

FURNITURE JOBS“It’s ironic that IKEA looks on the U.S. and Danville the way that most people in the U.S. look at Mexico,” Street said.

When a large multinational corporation is looking to cut costs, what does it do? Send jobs overseas to a less modernized country — one where salaries are a fraction of those at home and the law provides few rights or protections for workers — and watch the profits roll in. We are speaking, of course, of Sweden’s IKEA, and Virginia, USA. Is this our economic future? Current reports:

Here we are, folks. Sweden’s third-world sweatshop. IKEA takes advantage of the destruction to our economy caused by outsourcing jobs by outsourcing their own jobs to the U.S. — and paying less than the workers in Sweden get ($8 in the U.S., $19 + better benefits in Sweden, for making the same products), about 50% of what the median income is in Danville (the town where IKEA’s sweatshop is located), with much stricter and abusive practices in the Danville facility, and with many less rights.

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Life In Foxconn: Undercover In The iPod Factories

foxconnundercover05172010-1274313201A Chinese newspaper went undercover at a Foxconn factory, the production site for Western gadgets such as iPhones and iPods. The workers are an army of overworked, ill-treated, but optimistic twenty-year-olds whose existence is typical of many in China’s young adult generation. Translation via Engadget:

In front of a newly-opened phone shop, the sales assistant flashed an iPhone to the Foxconn employees, with everyone focused on his every “cool” gesture, as if it was something new. But actually every part of this “new” device would’ve come from the hands of these workers, except these guys had never thought of owning the final product. And now, this whole thing is right in front of their eyes with a “smashing price of ¥2,198 ($322)” — just above their monthly pay.

This super factory that holds some 400,000 people isn’t the “sweatshop” that most would imagine. It provides accommodation that reaches the scale of a medium-sized town, all smooth and orderly.

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Who Made Your iPod? Silicon Sweatshops

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 phone or Dell keyboard, it was likely made and assembled in Asia by workers who have few rights, and often toil under sweatshop-like conditions, activists say.

By the time a gadget reaches Apple’s flagship store in NYC, it may have passed through the hands of a heavily indebted Filipina migrant worker on the graveyard shift in Taiwan and a young Chinese worker clocking 80-hour weeks on an assembly line, at less than a dollar an hour.

Recent years have seen a drumbeat of reports on such abuses: Hourly wages below a dollar. Firings with no notice. Indifferent bosses. Labor brokers that leech away months of a worker’s hard-earned wages. A corporate shell game that leaves no one responsible.

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