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How do Sweatshops tie into our Nation s Products?
Many companies and schools in the United States buy their products from factories that have their workers working in horrible conditions. That is employing over 50,000 workers to work in these conditions. They have the workers work from 5 A.M. until nighttime inhaling dangerous chemicals and working in temperatures that get as high as 130 degrees. These high temperatures cause heat stress, burns, and injuries to workers. Many of the factories that the United States buys from are in another countries. In these countries they have horrible working conditions. Working in these places called sweatshops should be banned. Sweatshops are a shop or factory in which employees work long hours at low wages under poor conditions.
These factories cause problems for their workers later in the worker’s life. Occasionally these problems lead to death. Many workers do not get to see a doctor when they are ill. Workers choose to go work to make money rather than see a doctor. Most do not receive regular vaccinations that help their body fight against “smallpox, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, and diphtheria”. A sweatshop factory brings visions of dangerous, filthy, and cramped conditions. Many of these sweatshops do not pay their workers the right amount. “In Bangladesh and Myanmar, they pay ten to eighteen cents; in China, Pakistan, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia they pay twenty to sixty-eight cents per hour. Why do owners pay their workers so little? The wages they give these workers should be different.
Many of these factories hire children who are ineligible to work in these places. About 250 million children between the ages five and fourteen work in sweatshops. Half of these children are working full time and one third of them are working in extremely dangerous conditions. These children do not belong working in such dangerous conditions. “Many of these children begin working before the age of seven, tending to machines in the spinning mills and hauling heavy loads”. To an employer “the purpose of employing a child is not to train them, but to make their profits higher from the child’s work”. The employers do not realize the dangers of child labor. Child labor is “the abuse and misuse of young children at work”. Child labor is exploiting children by giving them low wages or no wage at all, allowing them to work excessive hours, and in unsafe, unhealthy work environments. These children should be in school rather than in these workplaces. Child labor costs less, but it causes problems for the children later on in life. These circumstances are very unhealthy for these children. It causes permanent physical, psychological, intellectual, social, and moral damage leading towards death. There was a child who was forced to work fifteen-hour days. If a young child working that many hours were able to make up the sleep lost during the time they were working, it would take nearly a lifetime to make it all up. Children should be able to get the right amount of sleep so they do not become ill. By working that many hours children do not get the right amount of sleep that they need.
The factories want as much work done as possible so they hire many workers. Most of these workers are underage, since they are cheap labor. Since the children are smaller, they can fit between and under machines, which is very dangerous for a young child. The children are not capable of doing the jobs that the factories require. There was a twelve-year-old boy that fell into a spinning machine and the machine tore two of his fingers off. If children were not working on these machines, this child would not have fallen. Although hiring children saves the owner of the factory three billion dollars, it is no excuse to hire underage children Money is the only thing that these companies think about. They should think about the child’s safety before the money.
Since the employer’s main objective is to sell as much of the product as they can, the factories hire many people to get more of their product produced. The more workers they hire, the less the money they are willing to give their workers. Many workers work at the factory for money that does not even pay for daily living expenses. Even if the worker works over time, he or she probably will not get any extra money. These workers are in small cramped rooms to make whatever product is necessary at that moment. The employers do not care if an employee is sick. The worker must work no matter what the circumstances is. The employer is only concerned with how much money he can make by how much product he can produce.
About 35 million soccer balls or 80% of the world’s annual supply are produced in Pakistan. About one fourth Pakistan’s soccer balls were made by children that were working 8 to 12 hour days for 6 cents an hour. Many children knot carpets, stitch clothes, or soccer balls since their fingers are smaller Adults would not be able to do these jobs since their fingers are bigger than a child’s. Since the children are younger, the owners can tell them what to do easier than it would be to tell an adult. There was another incident where three-year-old Angelica Marachareo, from Ellis Island would pull apart petals, insert them in the center of a flower and glue it to a stem. She would make 540 of these flowers for five cents a day. If a whole family were to work from eight in the morning to nine at night, they could make 3168 roses and earn, $1.20, not even enough to make a meal for one person. If the wage they make is not enough for one person, how does a family survive? Wages should be high enough to support ones family.
The conditions of these factories are not safe for anyone to work in. The factories are not kept clean, so many workers contract diseases making it easier for anyone to become ill. The chemicals used in the factory gives off many fumes, which make people sick. Many workers become ill and are not able to go home. There are not very many windows in the factory for the fumes to escape. Workers contract respiratory diseases, like asthma, or even death, making it difficult for them to work. These unsanitary conditions are horrible for anyone to work in. There is one bathroom and 100 other people use it. Most factories only allow one bathroom break per day. The lighting in these factories is not very good. Poor lighting cause eyestrain and eye injuries. The factories should make sure that their workplaces are clean and that their workers cannot inhale the fumes before hiring any workers.
The workers do not get minimum wage. The workers work long fifteen-hour days with one or no breaks. If they get a break, they can only take fifteen minutes and must go back to work. When they work past 800 hours, they do not get any extra pay. They should be paid some sort of overtime when they work past eight hours. In the United States people who work past eight hours get paid their hourly plus half of their regular wage. While working for these factories, they do not get any benefits. If one of their children gets sick, they must decided whether to spend their last pay to get medicine for their child or go to work and make money that does not even pay for daily expenses. Most children stay ill since many of the workers choose to go to work instead.
Many colleges and universities in the United States get their products from factories that have their workers working in sweatshops. A lot of college and universities buy their sweatshirts, baseball caps, T-shirts, jackets, and jerseys with their logo on it, from these kinds of factories. The college or university pays as much as $1.50, for a $19.50 baseball cap. The workers that produced that cap will only earn about eight cents. One student said, “We were as shocked as you to find out that baseball caps with our schools’ logo were made in a sweatshop”.
Eight cents will not get any of the normal daily expenses paid for. This student then demanded to be informed where their college logo apparel is made and that it is made in good conditions. Why is the college or university not notified where their products are made? If the students knew they would not buy from these factories. Colleges should be notified if their products come from a sweatshop. Many students organize organizations at their school to prevent their products from being bought from a sweatshop. These students get together and try to find the source of where their products are made. Once they figure out where their product is made, they find ways to stop buying from a sweatshop that gives their workers low pay, no benefits, and horrible working conditions. If all these students get together, sweatshops could start to clean up their factories. They could give their workers better benefits and more pay. They could also make the working conditions better for the workers. As long as the students keep trying to help prevent more sweatshops from forming and have their college or university buy their products from someplace else, is a step in the right direction.
The apparel industry has over 4.9 million employees. Apparel stores in the US like the Gap in Central America, Wal-mart in Honduras, and Nike shoe products in Indonesia, are produced in sweatshop factories. Other apparel stores like J.C. Penny, K-mart, and Walt Disney use sweatshop factories as their providers. Nike shoe for example charges the consumer $85 for a pair of shoes, and charges the store $20 per pair. However, the person who makes the shoes will only earn up to sixty-eight cents for that hour that they made the shoe. Where does all the money go, that Nike makes? Nike’s stock is worth over $4.5 billion and the workers making the shoe will only get $2.20 for that day. For a company that makes that much money why can’t they pay the workers who are making their product more? With that much money they should be able to make the conditions in their factories better to work in. What does Nike do with all their money that they make? Since they are not bettering their working conditions in their factories.
Walt Disney has workers in Haiti that work for 28 cents per hour. They make 5 cents for every $11.99 children’s outfit. A worker in one of the factories in Haiti said, “They treat us badly, like we are dumb, with no respect.” Why is this worker only paid 5 cents and why are sweatshop workers treated unfairly? How many other workers are treated as bad as this? Treating anyone this way is wrong and should be penalized. Walt Disney makes billions of dollars that could be used to fix up their factories. What does Walt Disney do with this money? They do not use the money in the way they should be. They can give their best employee a raise. Giving he or she a raise would just increase the person’s income. Their income is already high enough to support their family. While in the factory, the workers are afraid to ask for a raise. Nancy Penaloza a worker that makes clothes in one of the factories says, “I can not ask him a question because I’m afraid he will hit me. If I were to ask for overtime pay or a raise, I would be fired”. Why can this woman be fired but the person works for the actual company will get a raise and overtime pay without think twice about it? This woman deserves to have overtime pay, a raise, and better working conditions. With the money the Walt Disney makes, it should be expected that they use some of their money to improve the conditions for this woman and other workers in these factories but they do not do anything for them these workers.
These factories should be doing something to help out these workers. Companies should be getting penalized for making workers, work in these conditions. Many sweatshop factories claim that they made changes to their factory but did they really? A spokesperson from the Global Exchange, Michael Shellenberger said, “This is a step backwards. These companies will be able to market their products as sweatshop free without actually making any changes to their factory. Why are these factories able to claim that changes were made, even if nothing was done? When a young boy had gotten hurt by one of the machines, why did the owner do nothing to prevent it from happening again? An owner of a factory said that they do not have accidents in their factories, once in a while a finger or foot is smashed, but that does not amount to anything . The owners of theses factories should have more respect for their workers, but they do not. These workers risk their life for just pennies a day. The owners could at least make sure the conditions are safe for anyone to work in. They should also make sure that when an accident occurs that it will not occur again.
These kinds of workplaces should not be able to stay open until the conditions are better. Many workers will become sick from the conditions in these workplaces. The conditions in these factories are not good enough for an adult to work in and children should not be working there either. Sweatshop workers do not get benefits, which gives the worker a choice to take their sick son or daughter to the doctors or work to get money. Many stores and schools in the United States use sweatshops as a part of their provider for their product. Students are working together to make sure that the workers will have better working conditions and better benefits. After you put all this into consideration, do you think that wee should still be buying from this companies who use sweatshops to make their products? I know I will think twice before I buy something made by a sweatshop.
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