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Old 05-29-2005, 09:44 PM   #1
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Make Povery History bands made in sweat shops

Has anyone else seen this article in the Sydney Morning Herald or am I just slow? I'm trying to find the article online now.

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Old 05-29-2005, 09:53 PM   #2
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Anti-poverty wristbands made in sweatshop

By David Harrison in London

May 30, 2005

Wristbands sold to raise money for a campaign against world poverty are made in Chinese sweatshops in "slave labour" conditions.
The conditions are disclosed in confidential "ethical audits" of factories that make the ultra-fashionable white wristbands for the Make Poverty History campaign, started by a coalition of more than 400 charities.
Bob Geldof, who last week confirmed a follow-up to the 1985 Live Aid concert to coincide with the G8 summit in July - called for action when London's Telegraph broke the news to him. "The charities should pull out of deals with those companies immediately or set a firm deadline for improvements and pull out if the improvements are not met," he said.
One official with a British charity described the labour abuses as "deeply shocking".
He accused Oxfam, Christian Aid, Cafod and others of "rank hypocrisy" for buying from sweatshops while campaigning for "fair and ethical trade".
He said: "This is appalling. It goes against everything we stand for. If we are criticising big companies for trading unethically then we have to be whiter than white."
Hundreds of thousands of wristbands, made in fabric or silicon, have been sold in Britain. Pop stars, footballers and politicians, including the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, have been seen wearing them. They cost £1 ($2.40), of which 70 per cent goes to the charities.
The audit reports obtained by the Telegraph show, however, that Chinese factories making the silicon versions fall woefully short of the "ethical standards".
A report on the Tat Shing Rubber Manufacturing Company in Shenzhen, dated April 12 accuses it of using "forced labour" by taking "financial deposits" from new employees in violation of Chinese law and the Ethical Trading Initiative set up to promote international standards for working conditions.
The audit uncovered a list of "weaknesses" including poor health and safety provision, long hours, a seven-day week, workers cheated out of pay, inadequate insurance, no annual leave and no right to freedom of association.
The audits have sparked a row between some charities involved. Christian Aid, which has bought more than 500,000 wristbands from Tat Shing, claims that Oxfam failed to tell other charities that it had decided to stop ordering from the Shenzhen company.
A spokesman said: "Oxfam placed an order and told us the Chinese company was ethically OK. We accepted that and ordered wristbands in good faith. If Oxfam had concerns about ethical standards they did not pass them on for a considerable time."
Oxfam said it informed its coalition partners of its decision in January, but a spokesman said: "We could have perhaps put it in writing to make it absolutely clear. We bought an initial 10,000 wristbands from the Shenzhen company in November. We now see that purchasing this before we had seen a full audit was a mistake."
Christian Aid and Cafod continue to order from the Shenzhen firm as part of a "constructive engagement" policy: working with companies to help them improve. "There are already signs that conditions are improving, although there is still some way to go," a Christian Aid spokesman said.
Cafod, which has bought 120,000 wristbands from the factory, said: "We realise there is a problem but we have taken action to minimise it. Our understanding was that Oxfam had carried out an ethical audit of the company and we acted in good faith. We would prefer this not to have happened but we believe that conditions at the factory will improve."

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Old 05-29-2005, 10:22 PM   #3
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I saw this in PLEBA (yes, we can read). Has this been confirmed is what I'm wondering though?
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Old 05-29-2005, 10:45 PM   #4
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Oops...I didn't know it was posted there untill after I posted...sorry guys
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Old 05-30-2005, 05:00 AM   #5
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Don't be sorry Lynz778! This is the place to post stuff like this.

If this is true, it's pretty ironic. It doesn't sound like any of the charities purposely bought from a company that used unethical practices. It's an awful mistake that is going to be corrected, not a shady thing on the charities part.
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Old 05-30-2005, 05:04 AM   #6
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I really hope that's not true, I can't believe they would have been that careless
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Old 05-30-2005, 05:24 AM   #7
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Wow, I'm curious to hear what the official statement about this will be. Would the same go for the ONE-campaign?
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Old 05-30-2005, 05:44 AM   #8
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I really hope this is not true..
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Old 05-30-2005, 06:51 AM   #9
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If it is true, I would not be surprised. That is not to say that they did not do their homework but more a comment on the general conditions of labour in the 3rd world and how strong the pull towards corruption and making an extra buck is amongst people pulling the strings on the ground. The spotless factory you tour today could easily be the "sweat shop" of tomorrow. I don't know how one would get around this unless you could station your own people full-time within the factory.
"I can't change the world, but I can change the world in me." - Bono

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Old 05-30-2005, 10:22 AM   #10
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very truthful words sulawesigirl4.

One day a factory in the developing world can look like a great place to do business with (in terms of labor practices) and then, once you leave, everything reverts back to the same old dodgy factory.

This article should only help people realize that the REAL issue isn't about the white band, it should be about what each of us can do to support legislation in our countries to help get assistance to Africa and the world's poorest people.

The white band or now the white ONE t-shirts are only symbols of what our REAL EFFORTS SHOULD BE - putting pressure on our governments to fulfill their promises to Africa.

I think someone at this newspaper is trying to put down the efforts of the whiteband movement to help end extreme poverty by trying to cast dispersions on the making of the white band.

Do not let this glitch change your support for the larger goals of the white band movememnt - there are TOO MANY AFRICAN LIVES IN THE BALANCE that could be lost if we start to lessen our support!
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Old 05-30-2005, 10:30 AM   #11
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The best laid plans of mice and men have often gone awry....
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Old 05-30-2005, 02:34 PM   #12
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I bought mine from Oxfam in good faith in March. I hope the other things I bought in their shop were indeed Fair Trade items.
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Old 05-30-2005, 02:36 PM   #13
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does anyone actually interview the kids who work in the sweatshops asking them whether they like their jobs or not? it could be worse, they could be unemployed.

*awaits banishment
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Old 05-31-2005, 06:47 AM   #14
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in response to Mikal's point above i've copied and pasted this here - I orginally posted this in PLEBA's discussion but gonna put it here too in case anyone doesnt see it there and because i think its an important part of the "sweat shop industry" thats often overlooked.

Originally posted by digsy hmm, i'm gonna throw myself into the fire here and ask if anyone has read Jeffrey Sachs "The End Of Poverty" book?

Right in the beginning he discusses "sweat shops" in particular those in India. His opinion is that while conditions in sweat shops are appalling, many of the woman who work in them are better off than if they didnt. it gives them a greater sense of independence and puts woman in the workplace where they can now earn for themselves and take their own individual step upwards out of poverty. the effect on further generations is astounding with woman who are working normally having less children than those who don't work which means greater opportunity for the children they do have.
in fact, many of the first generation of sweat shop workers are now able to provide their own children with an education that they didnt have before which puts those children one step ahead on the poverty ladder and in a better position than their parents. It's a kind of chain reaction that improves in time.
One of the big obstacles in overcoming extreme poverty is a lack of gender equality and enabling woman to work, be it in sweat shops or elsewhwere, kick starts a change in the economy which can help pull a country out of its poverty through the generation to generation changes i just mentioned.

What Sachs says, which i now agree with, is that we shouldnt be fighting to shut down sweat shops but working harder to make sufficient changes within them so that these woman are no longer subjected to sexual harrassment, slave wages, appalling conditions etc because ultimately the work they do in the sweatshops is a very good thing for both themselves and the country employing them thats trying to pull itself out of poverty.

now obviously these "rules" can get bent slightly - it's a different ball game with children and its different country to country - but as a general practice, the pro's and cons of sweat shop work are very misunderstood.

i have some other points to make about this but i want to see if i get flamed first!!!
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Old 05-31-2005, 07:28 AM   #15
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slave labour
Singling out this one item makes for a good headline, but what is their definition of slave labor and how many other products fall into this category?

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