First of all, here's a directory of sweat shop free suppliers from whom we can buy without any guilt at all. That's the main way to undermine the use of sweat shops and promote ethical manufacture.
Then there's plenty to read on the reality of sweatshops in a comprehensive and fully referenced article at Wikipedia, and below, details of how we can undermine sweatshop work, if that's what we choose to do.
- Commercial enterprise runs on profit. It's possible to increase profit by improving income or reducing costs. One easy way to reduce costs is to pay staff tiny amounts of money. Systems for achieving this in industry are called sweatshops...
- If we know about a sweatshop, we could add it to the list and write all the information we have about the way it works?
- Fashion retailers Gap and Diesel lead the way in the use of sweat shops, along with Adidas, Nike and Puma. There are highly advanced factories with tens of thousands of workers, and there are also networks of home workers who are paid tiny amounts for each 'piece' of work they produce.
- The main issues are low pay, working conditions including health and safety and the length of hours worked.
- In 2003 the estimated number of sweatshop workers was 23.6 million! These 23,600,000 people live in 160 different countries, and the group is dfined by the 80% working outside the national or local employment laws which exist to protect them.
- If someone wanted to use a sweatshop to get their hands on cheap goods for them to sell, the easiest and safest way would be to exploit global competition - in developing countries where workers are desperate for work, you can find sub-contractors who will manage a sweatshop for you, taking responsibility for the exploitation themselves so you don't have to.
- This last method is the way in which market leading retailers maintain a dignified public face - if they aren't made aware of the true working methods of a company manufacturing their goods, they're not responsible right? Meanwhile they're free to publicly promote campaigns against global poverty, blissfully unaware of their role in promoting global poverty.
- We're responsible - while we buy cheap clothes made in sweat shops, we're the ones sustaining their existence. Our new clothes are covered in sweat before anyone even tries them on!
- Good facts include - the amount of money David Beckham, UK football guru, took for endorsing sports products made in sweatshops in 2003 alone: £15.5 million. Someone should mention this to him...
- Average amount earned in 2003 by a worker in a sweatshop producing Adidas products - £400.
- Hourly rate for jacket makers producing goods for Top Shop, owned by Philip Green - £3.70
- How much Philip Green said he knew about this contravention of his own company's code of conduct - nothing!
- Piece rate paid per shirt to Bangladeshi women making tops for retail in Disney stores - 5 UK pence.
- Piece rate paid by customers in Disney shops for a top - £17.99
- Amount of money earned by Michael Eisner, boss of Disney, in 2003, per hour - $63,000 US
Once again, the page for buying T shirts, and anything else you could possibly need or want, without recourse to a sweat shop, is here. It's really easy.
There are some other things we can do when you're shopping to rectify this problem, and they're not difficult...
- Ask any store manager for a list of the factories that make their products, including information on the wages and working conditions in each factory. Ask if you can have a copy too... When we've done this you can add the details of your request to a list, and write about our experience too.
- Ask any store manager to guarantee that their products were made by factory workers who earned enough money to support their families. You can give details of their answer on the page above too.
- Ask any store manager for a copy of their code of conduct on protecting human rights in manufacture. If they can supply this, the code should make reference to banning child labour and to guaranteeing safe working conditions in factories making their goods. Also, the code should describe practical ways for ensuring that these rules are adhered to.