What can you buy for a $1.5?
A slice of pizza. A can of Coke. Maybe a subway ride (only in some cities) is that enough for a day…? What if you make just about $15 a day….? What would you do then….would that be enough…?
That is exactly what Syrian refugee children are being paid to work at sweatshops. Yes you read that correctly. $15 a day for working more than 12 hours. And yes CHILDREN.
A BBC Panorama investigation showed that the clothes destined for some of our best-known high street brands (I can’t name them here) are made by Syrian child refugees working in their supply chains in Turkey. Panorama – Undercover: The Refugees Who Make Our Clothes, broadcasted recently, claimed that one factory boasted of making clothes for a big British online only retailer while employing Syrian refugees. The documentary also claimed to have discovered refugees who weren't children but were working illegally on what seems to be the most famous brand in the world – owned by a certain someone from Spain.
The concerned brands are experts at shrugging of responsibility and shifting blame on the middlemen. In response one such brand said they carefully monitored their supply chains and do not tolerate the exploitation of refugees or children.
The investigation reveled they found samples of an online giant from Britain where several Syrian children working. Thankfully the company did accept that its clothes were made in the factory, but cleverly added that it was not an approved factory.
One wonders, if it wasn’t an approved factory then why were your products being made there. They continued that they had since inspected and found 11 Syrian adults and three Syrian children aged under-16 at work. However the spokesperson added that the children would be financially supported so they can return to school and the adults will be paid a wage until they have found legal work. Now hopefuly they stay true to their word.
The spokesperson for the Spanish retailer said the factory was working as a sub-contractor without its knowledge. They added that a subsequent inspection did not find any Syrian workers and found "good conditions except for some personal safety measures". Very convenient. They added that they had already found signification non-compliance in an audit in June and had given the factory until December to make the required improvements.
All brands referred to here are making millions of dollars….really they are. The kind of impact they leave on the planet is a separate debate. But at least you can invest in taking care of your manpower and labor force. Provide them with dignified and fair wages, humane working conditions and safety measures. I am sure this will not make significant impact on your deep pockets. I would also ask shoppers to think twice before they make a purchase. You really have the power to make every dollar count. YOU can collectively force these brands to follow ethical standards, take strict actions against child labor and actively participate in child education.
Think about it.