Ethics and sweatshops

How are designer labels able to mass produce some of their products so swiftly?

Ethics and sweatshops

Share via Email A Gap worker straightens up clothing. Dripping with sweat, his hair is thinly coated in dust. The hand-embroidered garment on which his tiny needle is working bears the distinctive logo of international fashion chain Gap.

The result is that children, in this case working in conditions close to slavery, appear to still be making some of its clothes.

It is a policy to stop the abuse of children. Sold into bonded labour by his family this summer, Amitosh works 16 hours a day hand-sewing clothing. Beside him on a wooden stool are his only belongings: My father was paid a fee for me and I was brought down with 40 other children.

I am a shaagird [a pupil]. It has been like this for four months. Behind the youngsters huge piles of garments labelled Gap - complete with serial numbers for a new line that Gap concedes it has ordered for sale later in the year - lie completed in polythene sacks, with official packaging labels, all for export to Europe and the United States in time for Christmas.

Jivaj, who is from West Bengal and looks around 12, told The Observer that some of the boys in the sweatshop had been badly beaten. This is a big order for abroad, they keep telling us that. Some of the boys had oily cloths stuffed in our mouths as punishment.

It is my duty to stay here. Eventually, I will make money and buy a house for my mother. Last week, a spokesman admitted that children appeared to have been caught up in the production process and rather than risk selling garments made by children it vowed it would withdraw tens of thousands of items identified by The Observer.

These allegations are deeply upsetting and we take this situation very seriously. All of our suppliers and their sub-contractors are required to guarantee that they will not use child labour to produce garments.

Ethics and sweatshops

After learning of this situation, we immediately took steps to stop this work order and to prevent the product from ever being sold in our stores. We are also convening a meeting of our suppliers where we will reinforce our prohibition on child labour.

As part of the fundraising endeavour, Gap launched a new, limited collection of clothing and accessories for men and women with Product Red branding, the profits from which are being channelled towards fighting Aids in the Third World.

But over the past decade, India has also become the world capital for child labour. They should know by now what outsourcing to India means. Who made it for such little cost?The Ethics of Sweatshops and the Limits of Choice - Volume 25 Issue 2 - Michael Kates.

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BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONAL ETHICS INTERNATIONAL SWEATSHOPS JOHN T.

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