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October 18, 2008

Act Now:
Tell Wal-Mart to Stop Using Sweatshops in Bangladesh

A recent Business Week.com story, "Wal-Mart Supplier Accused of Sweatshop Conditions," cites a new study by SweatFree Communities which reveals multiple labor violations at Wal-Mart supplier JMS Garments in Bangladesh. Among other violations cited, workers toil up to 19-hour shifts; are made to stand for hours as punishment for arriving late to work; and are frequently subjected to verbal abuse and beatings. These working conditions are unacceptable.

What's At Stake:

A recent SweatFree Communities report on a Wal-Mart school uniform and children's clothing supplier in Bangladesh reveals severe sweatshop conditions and exposes failures in Wal-Mart's factory auditing program. Based on in-depth interviews with over 90 workers at JMS Garments, the report finds:

Forced overtime: Under pressure to finish Wal-Mart orders with tight deadlines, the factory sometimes forces workers to toil marathon 19-hour shifts from 8 am to 3 am.

Abuse: Verbal abuse for slight mistakes or delays in their work is so common that workers take it for granted.

Inescapable poverty: The lowest paid workers earn only $20 per month, which is less than the legal minimum wage, and not enough to feed one person.

Managers force workers to lie about the sweatshop conditions and paltry wages to Wal-Mart inspectors. If workers were to speak up for their rights they would be fired immediately. But workers are trying to organize for better conditions. They have voted in favor of forming a Workers Association which would have the power to negotiate with management on wages, hours, and working conditions. They have formulated a list of demands, from improving the food quality in the cafeteria to respecting all their legal rights.

Both Wal-Mart and the Bangladeshi government are responsible for improving conditions at JMS Garments. Wal-Mart has promised to turn JMS Garments into a "model for other factories in Bangladesh," but must be held accountable.

Support the workers by sending a letter of concern to Wal-Mart and the Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority.

Campaign Expiration Date: November 13, 2008

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Posted by cat at 06:49 PM