The International Labor Rights Forum notes that numerous companies with leading brands rely on sweatshop labour. A 2008 "New York Times" article by David Barboza disclosed how Chinese factories that employ workers to produce goods for Western nations were exploited. In addition to being paid minimal wages, the workers were exposed to dangerous machines and harmful chemicals. Leading brands that rely on sweatshops include Nike, Burberry and Walmart.
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American Apparel, Abercombe & Fitch, L.L. Bean, Gymboree, Hanes and Burberry are some of the top brand name companies that use sweatshop labour to manufacture their textiles and apparel. According to the International Labor Forum, these companies have failed to respond to fair labour standards or improve the working conditions of their employees. L.L. Bean, Gymborree, Hanes use forced child labour in their Uzbekistan cotton production plants. Employees working for these clothing manufacturers are denied any collective bargaining rights or unionisation. The International Labor Forum indicates that this is an inconclusive list as there are numerous other brand-name clothing manufacturers that employ sweatshop labourers.
Sportswear manufacturers like Nike and Adidas rely on the labour of workers in Indonesia to produce their shoes. A report by Common Dreams, a non-partisan citizen's organisation, indicates that Indonesian workers live in extreme poverty and face prosecution and physical assault by their employers. Nike is the world's largest sports shoe company, and owns 11 factories in Indonesia that produce 55 million shoes each year. A significant portion of the shoes is exported to the United States; only 1 pair in 50 is sold to Indonesian consumers.
Furniture and Discount Stores
The International Labor Rights Forum lists Ikea, Walmart and Kohl's as furniture and discount stores with a history of unfair labour practices and lacking in "corporate social responsibility." Four factory workers in Turkey who were employed by these companies lost their lives as a result of unsafe working conditions. As one of the world's largest retailers, Walmart has over 60,000 suppliers. Walmart has had a long history of "high-profile" labour rights violations in countries like Bangladesh, China, Indonesia and Swaziland. Walmart has failed in areas including fare wages, overtime pay, maternity leave, bathroom breaks, forced labour and the right to unionise.
Agro-industrial brands like Monsanto, Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland engage in unfair labour practices. According to the International Labor Rights Forum, these companies "sit atop a complex supply chain" that subjects workers to child labour, forced labour and debt bondage. Small-scale farmers in different parts of the world are required to purchase their seeds from these agro-industrial giants and sell back their products at "unsustainable" prices. Workers who work on farms that export products like pineapples, rubber, cotton, cocoa, tea and flowers supply major food processing brands like Kraft, Nestle and Dole. These companies own a significant portion of the world's food brands and violate worker's rights in areas including wages, work hours, freedom of association and exposure to harmful or toxic chemicals.
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