The United States Department of Labor defines a sweatshop as, “any factory that violates two or more labor laws, such as those pertaining to wages and benefits, working hours, and child labor.” Many look at sweatshops further as any workplace, which knowingly exposes workers to unhealthy, inhumane, and hazardous working conditions. Some of these conditions might include long hours with little pay (less than minimum wage), doing difficult jobs with no physical support of any kind or no breaks in extreme temperatures. Often, these sweatshops use little children to perform duties as well.
What industries use sweatshops?
While sweatshops are illegal in the United States, many foreign countries still use these entities (It’s important to note that this does not mean that sweatshops have not existed in the United States, because they most definitely have.). Many jobs performed in factories use sweatshops, such as handmade blankets, shoes, and clothes. In Pakistan, 75 percent of its carpet weavers are little girls under the age of 14. Also, some toy factories use sweatshops, paying workers less than $0.30 in U.S. currency an hour. In addition, many banana workers in the world are said to be exploited. Further, many coffee farmers receive less for their coffee than the cost of production to make it. As a result, they make less than minimum wage.
What countries use child labor?
According to the International Labor Organization, 250 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are coerced into working. Many of these children are kept under force by confinement and physical abuse. Some are abducted and sold while others must simply stay at their place of employment. Given that information, Asia uses 61 percent, Africa 32 percent, and 32 percent in Latin America.
Who advocates sweatshops?
Paul Krugman, Nicholas Kristof, and Johan Norberg each argue that sweatshops provide jobs with much higher wages and better conditions than compared to previously worked jobs by some individuals. To support their argument, they lean on the evidence of sweatshops closing in the past and individuals starving to death or turning to prostitution. They further claim that these sweatshops are the initial step to taking the country industrial and breaking into a better economy. However, most economists disagree with this viewpoint. The Child Labor Department and other national and international organizations have sought to pass laws, which give child workers and sweatshop workers other alternatives, with better conditions and higher purposes. This is an ongoing battle, as some of these alternatives have not always proven to be better. Lobbyists from various organizations have tried to help solve this dilemma, in passing / providing more rights for these individuals.
How can we stop these sweatshops and child labor?
The best thing is to be aware of where you shop. National and international reports keep consumers up-to-date with those who obey the law and those who don’t. Avoid purchasing items from companies, which are confirmed to misuse individuals in this way. Join awareness groups.
Sweatshops are something, which will always strive to exist in third world countries and countries, where less labor regulations exist. The important thing is to make sure not to support these types of companies. Be aware of where your products come from. Support movements, which rid nations of these types of inequality and inhumane conditions. Join groups. In essence, do everything in your power to refrain from supporting sweatshops or child labor.