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Darlings! You’ll be ever so pleased to learn that a new, high-fashion super store has opened in America. It’s called Wal-Mart. Yes, the stodgy old downscale store has gone upscale, offering hip new clothing lines like Metro 7!
If you think anything has really changed, however, you might check the labels on these new glam goods to see if any are made in Bangladesh. If so, they might have come from a factory there by the name of Harvest Rich, which produces clothing for Wal-Mart and others.
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There’s nothing at all hip about Harvest Rich – it’s a sweatshop that uses child labor. In a new investigative report, the National Labor Committee, a diligent watchdog group, has documented conditions in Harvest Rich that are grotesque, even by sweatshop standards. Approximately 200 children between 11 and 14 years old work in this factory, sewing garments under contract to the Wal-Marts.
The children are forced to work 12-14 hours a day, with some shifts going 20-hours. In all of September, these child laborers got just one day off. For the grueling long shifts, they are allowed only about four hours of sleep on the factory floor before being awakened and put back on the machines, sometimes collapsing from exhaustion. Their wages are as low as six cents an hour. They are routinely slapped or beaten if they don’t meet their production goals, make mistakes, or even take too long in the bathroom.
Wal-Mart washes its hands of this by asserting that it has a “code of conduct” for its contractors, supposedly enforced by apparel industry monitors. Yet, Harvest Rich, which is certified by this group, shows yet again that corporate self-monitoring is an abysmal failure even at stopping the most disgusting practices.
This is Jim Hightower saying… To see the report and join the effort to move children from sweatshops into schools, call the National Labor Committee: 212-242-3002.
“Wal-Mart makes alterations to fashion marketing strategy,” Austin American-Statesman, October 31, 2006.
“Child labor is back: Children again sewing clothing for Wal-Mart, Hanes, & other European companies,” Nation Labor Committee Press Release, October 24, 2006.