Wal-Mart Caught Again With Supplier Accused of Sweatshop Conditions

Wal-Mart Christmas Ornaments made in sweatshops.


This comes on the heels of a CNN report aired on December 13, 2007 of last year, when it was revealed that Wal-Mart Christmas Ornaments were made under deplorable conditions. Children ranging from ages of 12 to 16 years old, making 26 cents an hour which is half of China’s minimum wage.

Business Week.com cites a new study released, which exposed Wal-Mart’s auditing program failed to uncover that a supplier of children’s wear are being produced in sweatshop conditions. The factory forced workers to lie to Wal-Mart inspectors about the working conditions. Wal-Mart has, of course, tried to hide this report from the public.

According to Business Week, “Wal-Mart acknowledges that it urged SweatFree Communities several times not to publish its report.”

According to the study, “Sweatshop Solutions? Economic Ground Zero in Bangladesh and Wal-Mart’s Responsibility,” the factory forces workers to toil marathon 19-hour shifts from 8 am to 3 am in order to finish Wal-Mart orders with tight deadlines. “If any worker declines overtime, management harasses him or her mentally or physically,” says Elina, a 22-year old factory helper. The report recounts one incident of a pregnant worker, who was refused leave, and forced to deliver her child inside the factory.

“In response to this report and pressure from our organization, Wal-Mart promises action to make this factory a model for others in Bangladesh,” said Bjorn Claeson, Executive Director of SweatFree Communities, a worker rights organization that authored the report. “We welcome Wal-Mart’s intervention. As one of the most powerful companies in the world with enormous presence in Bangladesh Wal-Mart could have a dramatic positive impact. But the company should recognize that its own low price demands and just-in-time production system is the root cause of sweatshop conditions. To bring about substantive changes in this factory and others, Wal-Mart must be willing to change its own demands.”

According to the BusinessWeek story, Ruth Rosenbaum, executive director of CREA, a Hartford-based socioeconomic research center that focuses on human and labor rights, said “Wal-Mart has taken positive steps on environmental and sustainable issues, but when it comes to working on issues that question its purchasing practices or where its way of doing business would have to change, that’s where things hit a wall.”

“This report once again shows Wal-Mart’s failed commitment to ethical sourcing,” said Stacie Lock Temple, Sr. Director for Strategy and Communications for Wal-Mart Watch, a watchdog organization that monitors Wal-Mart’s business practices. “If Wal-Mart and the Walton family were truly committed to improving worker conditions in factories such as this one, the company would be willing to change its excessive demands and spend the money required to ensure fair working conditions.”

Another reason people should not shop at Wal-Mart. How many reports about sweatshop supplier practices and lawsuits about worker violations is it going to take to wake shoppers of Wal-Mart up? Every time you buy a product there, you are contributing, not only to child labor sweatshops in Bangladesh and China. But also, condoning the over 2,000,000 million employee violations and that is in just one current lawsuit. Wal-Mart and the Walton’s have made billions off these kinds of practices – isn’t it time to find another store to patronize?

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