Wednesday, October 15, 2008



Ducking into the local Wal-Mart in search of the lowest price (if not exactly the best quality) . It's a practice that many of us take part in, but what is behind the "lowest prices" offered at that chain store? One of the things is purchasing from sweatshops in the Third World where workers' rights are minimal to non-existent. The following appeal from the Union Voice's 'Sweatfree Communities' campaign tells the story nof one such case, in the country of Bangladesh, and appeals for your help to correct the situation.

Act Now: Tell Wal-Mart to Stop Sweatshop Practices in Bangladesh:
A recent SweatFree Communities report on a Wal-Mart school uniform and children's clothing supplier in Bangladesh reveals severe sweatshop conditions and exposes failures in Wal-Mart's factory auditing program.

Both Wal-Mart and the Bangladeshi government are responsible for improving conditions at JMS Garments. Wal-Mart has promised to turn JMS Garments into a "model for other factories in Bangladesh," but must be held accountable.

Take action now to support the workers by sending a letter of concern to Wal-Mart and the Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority.

Tell me more
Please go to THIS LINK to send the following letter:
A recent Business story, "Wal-Mart Supplier Accused of Sweatshop Conditions," cites a new study by SweatFree Communities which reveals multiple labor violations at Wal-Mart supplier JMS Garments in Bangladesh. Among other violations cited, workers toil up to 19-hour shifts; are made to stand for hours as punishment for arriving late to work; and are frequently subjected to verbal abuse and beatings. These working conditions are unacceptable.
SweatFree Communities has informed me that Wal-Mart has promised improvements in working conditions and in its own business practices. Yet Wal-Mart also tried to keep the report from becoming public. I welcome Wal-Mart's intervention in the factory, but Wal-Mart must work openly on improvements to have credibility.

The Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority (BEPZA) should also hold JMS Garment accountable for improving working conditions. BEPZA itself must respect workers' referendum vote in favor of forming a Workers Association.

Workers' demands as reported to SweatFree Communities are clear: Improve the food quality and clean the canteen; abide by the referendum results and establish a Workers Association to negotiate on wages, hours, and working conditions; pay all the legal termination benefits, including benefits for the length of service, unpaid wages, and encashment of earned leave benefits; pay all workers the legal overtime rate for overtime work; provide transportation to and from the factory; and respect all worker rights under Bangladeshi law and Wal-Mart's code of conduct.

I expect these demands to be met rapidly. I also expect Wal-Mart to honor its commitment to address its own purchasing practices as one of the root causes of sweatshop conditions.

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