What do we mean by "Stand Against Sweatshops"?
The term “sweatshop” is often used to describe places of work that feature any combination of child labour, low wages, long hours, and relatively weak protections for worker health and safety.
Although sweatshops are more typical in developing nations, some of these aspects can also be found in work places in the UK and other developed nations too. This means it is important to have a process that ensures these sweatshops are cut out of the supply chain at different stages and in all locations.
In reality, eradicating sweatshops from the world is a monumental battle that needs the combined effort of customers, suppliers, governments, and various other stakeholders. Our efforts are a a relatively small contribution to the stand against sweatshops but it is still important for us to do our part because cumulatively we can make a difference.
About Our Ethical Tagging System
We created an ethical tagging system to help you understand the impact our products have on the world. On each product’s page on our website, we highlight the ethical tags that apply to that product so you can better understand how that exact product is ethically sourced. Look out for this tag for products which comply with our Stand Against Sweatshops initiative:
Stand Against Sweatshops: Learn More
What are the key characteristics of sweatshops?
Reporting by UNICEF shows that the latest global estimates indicate that the number of children in child labour has risen to 160 million – accounting for almost 1 in 10 of all children worldwide. Globally 9 million additional children are at risk of being pushed into child labour by the end of 2022 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Information provided by The World Counts highlights that sweatshop wages can be so low that they barely cover essential needs. Some people work for as little as 3 US cent (about 2 or 3 UK pennies) per hour, often more than 100 hours per week. Often, employees do not receive their wages on time nor are they paid for overtime work
Information provided by The World Counts highlights that it is not uncommon for sweatshop workers to work 100+ hours per week and in the worst cases, sweatshop workers are forced to work as much as 72 hours without sleep.
Poor Health & Safety
Reporting by the Guardian brings to light case study evidence showing that some sweatshops supplying major brands are rife with verbal and physical abuse. Further reporting by UNICEF highlights that seventy-nine million children – nearly half of all those in child labour – were in hazardous work directly endangering their health, safety and moral development.
How do we stand against sweatshops?
Supply Chain Monitoring
Cutting sweatshops out of the supply chain is the first and simplest step to standing against them. We monitor our direct suppliers to make sure they are giving their workers fair wages and working conditions.
It is difficult to effectively monitor our full supply chain because we don’t have direct communication with those suppliers who are indirectly working with us and we don’t have control over the suppliers our own suppliers choose to use. For example, our suppliers might change their suppliers when they introduce new products that require different raw materials. Or, our suppliers might introduce new suppliers to cope with increased demand.
To work around this, we check to make sure our direct suppliers are monitoring their own suppliers further up the supply chain. We review their monitoring processes so that we can better understand how effective they are being and make sure that they are on board with the same standards as us.
Source from Developing Nations
This might sound counter-intuitive at first because the majority of sweatshops are prevalent in developing nations. However, by making sure our supply chain cuts out sweatshops and by continuing to source some of our products from developing nations, we are helping to provide fair wages and working conditions for people in these developing nations.
We recognise that we are a relatively small company trying to tackle a very large problem and we are not under the illusion that our efforts alone will eradicate sweatshops. However, we do believe that we need to do our best and cumulatively our efforts can contribute to the solution and hopefully we can encourage others to contribute along the way too.
Also, by doing our part we are helping to make a difference on a micro level. Every product we sell that has been made in a developing nation helps to secure fair wages and working conditions for real people.
We are always looking into ways we can better Stand Against Sweatshops. As well as making improvements to our current initiative, we are actively looking for other opportunities to make a difference. If you have any ideas or suggestions yourself then we would love to hear from you – please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.