Quiet desperation (lexin) wrote in tradeunion_uk,
Quiet desperation

China: Exports come at a high price

Nearly a decade after some of the most powerful companies in the world - often under considerable criticism and consumer pressure - began an effort to eliminate sweatshop conditions in Asia, worker abuse is still commonplace in many of the Chinese factories that supply Western companies, according to workers' rights groups. The groups say some Chinese companies routinely shortchange their employees on wages, withhold health benefits and expose their workers to dangerous machinery and harmful chemicals, like lead, cadmium and mercury.

In recent weeks, a flood of reports detailing labour abuse have been released. In a 58-page report, the New York-based National Labor Committee scolded Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, for not doing more to protect workers. 'At Wal-Mart, Christmas ornaments are cheap, and so are the lives of the young workers in China who make them,' the National Labor Committee report said.

Many experts say part of the problem is cost: Western companies are constantly pressing their Chinese suppliers for lower prices while also insisting that factory owners spend more to upgrade operations, treat workers properly and improve product quality. Many brand-name companies, like IKEA, have shifted the overwhelming majority of their manufacturing operations to China.

Brought to you from a sweatshop in China
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