Western Companies Accused of Operating Sweatshops

M G Singh By M G Singh, 11th Jun 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/dez5qnda/
Posted in Wikinut>Business>Ethics

Sweatshop means conditions of work which are unacceptably difficult or dangerous. Sweatshop workers are made to work for long hours, often with very poor pay packets. Most of the time all statutory laws regarding overtime pay or minimum wages are studiously ignored.

the 'Gift' of the West


Sweatshop is a term which describes conditions of work which are considered to be unacceptably difficult or dangerous. Sweatshop workers are made to work for long hours, often with very poor pay packets. Most of the time all statutory laws regarding overtime pay or minimum wages are studiously ignored. Child labor laws are also violated with impunity. Sweatshops may have hazardous materials and the work environment may not be conducive to good health. Employees may also be abused by the employer and a worker has no easy way out.

Unfortunately most of the companies that operate these sweat shops are from the west. We can identify these companies from the product they manufacture. We can start with the Clothing manufacturers. The companies that have been singled out by the International Labor Forum are American Apparel, Abercombe and Fitch, LL Bean, Gymboree, Hanes and Burberry. These companies have failed to respond to the fair labor standards or improve the working conditions of their employees.

Child Labor

L.L. Bean, Gymboree and Hanes are accused of employing child labor in their cotton production plants in Uzbekistan. Employees working for these clothing manufacturers are denied the right to unionise. The International Labor Forum has s indicated that there are many more companies that employ sweatshop labourers.
Sports manufacturers

Next in line are the sportswear manufacturers. The names of Nike and Adidas are in the forefront. These companies rely on labor in Indonesia. A report by Common Dreams a citizen’s organization has revealed that the Indonesian workers live in extreme poverty and face an uncertain future. They are also subjected to physical assault by the employers. Nike is the world's largest sports shoe company, and owns 11 factories in Indonesia that produce 55 million shoes each year.

We can now have a look at 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 labor practices.


Walmart is one of the world’s largest retailers. It has over 60,000 suppliers. Walmart has had a long history of labor rights violations in countries like Bangladesh, China, Indonesia and Swaziland. Walmart has failed in areas that cover wages, overtime pay, maternity leave, forced labor and the right to form unions.
Agro Industrial Companies

The Fourth group of Industries is the Agro Industrial companies. The famous brands accused in running sweat shops are Monsanto, Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland. According to the International Labor Rights Forum, these companies employ child labor and coerce workers into forced labor.

One of their classical methods of exploitation is to require small-scale farmers in different parts of the world to purchase seeds from them and sell back their products at higher prices. These companies have a significant presence all over the world. At the same time they violate worker's rights in areas including wages, work hours, freedom of association and exposure to harmful or toxic chemicals.

Last word

It can be seen that almost all companies which violate labor laws and exploit workers are from the west. These companies operate sweat shops and it looks like the world is unable to do anything about them


Labor Laws, Multinationals, Sweat Shops, Walmart, Western Companies

Meet the author

author avatar M G Singh
A man who spent his early years in Air Force. An avid writer with over 6000 articles and 60 short stories published.Two novels on the anvil for publication.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
12th Jun 2014 (#)

This is what corporate capitalists produce. In their zeal to maximize profits and cut costs they are willing to condone people being treated like animals. They go wherever labor is cheapest, wherever environmental laws and safety regulations are the most lax. The only remedy is to do away with the cruel system of capitalism.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
12th Jun 2014 (#)

It is indeed sad that these unconscionable practices are allowed to go on, Madan. Mainly they contract out to local manufacturers who supply to them. Another area is the hazardous materials, including old computers, that are shipped to poor countries without proper supervision and health awareness - siva

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author avatar Ptrikha
12th Jun 2014 (#)

Indeed, India is a big dumping ground for hazardous Computer waste, and a lot still needs to be done on this count.

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author avatar Grant Peterson
12th Jun 2014 (#)

Truth is that even if they do not operate such "sweat shops" the majority of western stores have turned a blind eye to their existence for most of the last half century.

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author avatar Ptrikha
12th Jun 2014 (#)

And I assume that these companies won't be unaware of the bad practices that are followed in manufacturing from the emerging countries?

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author avatar Grant Peterson
14th Jun 2014 (#)

It is correct that these corporations will not care that its happening as long as they can profit from their suppliers.

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author avatar Pollyal
12th Jun 2014 (#)

the world of big companies and huge business follows jungle raj..it looks all good and shiny from outside, inside is a completely opposite story

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
18th Jun 2014 (#)

Awesome and one of a kind post, cheers!

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
13th Jul 2014 (#)

Thanks for the informative article. I think my clothing is safe -- not seeing any labels you mentioned.
But before anyone pats my back over this, I know I've bought furniture from WalMart and Ikea when I can't find something serviceable secondhand. It does seem that the big companies do everything they can to squeeze out competition, and one way is sweatshops and slave wages. It should seem that laws preventing monopolies should handle this corporate greed, but when lobbyists make more than teachers, we understand what happens there. So difficult a situation!!

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