Press

Chinese teens blow whistle on Wal-Mart Christmas sweatshops

The Raw Story |  By David Edwards and Muriel Kane | December, 13 2007 |  Share  | Source Article

According to a new study, some Christmas tree ornaments sold by Wal-Mart were made in a Chinese sweatshop where workers as young as 12 work for 15 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The report from the National Labor Committee states that "at the Guangzhou Ornaments factory, every single labor law in China, along with internationally recognized worker rights standards, are being systematically violated on a daily basis." Workers receive as little as 26 cents an hour and those in the spray paint department handle toxic chemicals without protection.

Few workers in China are aware of their rights or how to protect them. It was only when the factory hired several hundred high school students with promises about hours and wages that it did not fulfill that the abuses came to light. "The high school teenagers were able to quickly recognize and document gross human and worker rights violations, including child labor, at the plant, while Wal-Mart - the largest retailer in the world - was apparently unable to discover any such abuses over the course of years."

"Our country needs to insist that our trading partners enforce their own labor laws and respect international labor standards," said Sen. Bryan Dorgan at a news conference where the report was released.

Dorgan also issued a statement saying, "It is completely against the spirit of Christmas to produce ornaments in sweatshop factories where the workers are physically abused and financially cheated. We need to get serious about keeping the products of foreign sweatshops off American shelves. And we shouldn't wait until next year's holiday season rolls around before we take action."

Wal-Mart announced that it had launched an immediate investigation, promising that "through our rigorous ethical standards program, Wal-Mart aggressively deals with any allegations of improper conditions at our suppliers' factories."