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Re: [GreenYes] Globalization hits my small home business
On 28 Mar 2002 at 18:11, Wendy Oldenbrook wrote:

> Hello-
>     To preface, my name is Wendy and I run a small home business
>     making
> fabric gift bags.  ............................     My gut instinct tells me that the women that made these aren't
> getting what they deserve.  After what I've read about sweat shop
> labor - especially in the textile industry - I wonder about the
> working conditions.
>     Is there anyway I can check into the mill.  There must be sweat
>     shop
> watch organizations?
>     And even with that information, the question becomes how can I
> possibly compete - and would the extra cost to the consumer ultimately
> be worth it?

Dear Wendy....

my heart really goes out to you..... this is the kind of thing that all sane activists work 
hard to prevent, exploitation in whatever form....

we in South Africa have similar problems - be it in textiles, shoes, many products....

there are many sweatshops NGO's around, but be prepared for one quick response 
from the business sector - "it is a free market, and if they can produce the product 
cheaper, then they will get market share" or words to that effect...

many misleading points in that statement, as anybody will see... the market is not 
free, there are trade barriers and tariffs and taxes and duties and I could go on... the 
product is no cheaper actually, just that many of the costs are externalised - as many 
know, much of the rubble from the WTC went to places like India, where the 
environmental regulations are really thin on the ground, so making it "cheaper" to 
"dispose" of the rubble there... you are a victim of a similar situation, where not only 
do people get paid less (I have a very touching poster about a child worker making 
Nikes in the East, and the blurb states that she is earning 32c (American) per week - 
this is dated 1997...), but the environmental impact is not included, again dropping 
the cost...

what to do? sorry, but I don't have any quick and easy answers... of course, lobby to 
have standards apply equally around the world, so the playing field is level; raise the 
consciousness of people around this issue; and finally, maybe look to changing your 
product, so you are not competing with "cheap" imports...

take care and my very best wishes to you - I trust that all will go well with you and 
your organisation.... keep on the good work!

Muna
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