Encyclopedia > Sweatshop

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A sweatshop is a factory, usually in a developing or Third World country and especially in Asia, where people work for a very small wage (as low as $US 3 a day), producing products such as clothes, toys, shoes, and other consumer goods.

The term connotes a factory in which the workers are abused physically, mentally, or sexually, subjected to long hours, harsh or unsafe conditions, and the like.

Many sweatshops are owned by multinational corporations, which take advantage of the low wages in order to reduce their production costs and increase their profits. Actually, the corporations usually work through a process of subcontracting, meaning they don't own the sweatshops themselves but employ smaller organizations who own the sweatshops and produce the required goods.

Some companies have been accused of using children in their subcontracting sweatshops. Some countries where sweatshops are found forbid the practice of trade unionization, making it difficult for employees to protest their treatment.

Sweatshop labour is a focus of the anti-globalization movement, which has accused many companies (such as the Walt Disney Company and Nike) of exploiting sweatshops. The movement charges that the process of neoliberal globalization has made it difficult to stem corporate abuses of sweatshop workers. Furthermore, they argue that lower-wage production in other countries is responsible for a loss of jobs in first-world countries

Those who defend the practice of moving production to low-wage facilities overseas point to a lower standard of living as an excuse for the low wages, and argue that their operations benefit the community by providing needed jobs. However, some companies have bowed to public pressure to reduce their dependence on sweatshop labour and have reduced or ended this practice in their operations.

Some companies publicize the fact that their products are not made with sweatshop labour; a number of organizations publish lists of companies that pay their workers a living wage.

External links

http://www.sweatshops.org/ , an anti-sweatshops information site

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