Sunday, August 17, 2008

Speedo Production Breaks Records for Worker Abuse

I have never considered myself a particularly avid fan of nautical sports, but swimmers at this summer's Beijing Olympics have left me speechless more than once. In addition to the truly spectacular shows of athleticism, what these swimmers are wearing is also equally fascinating... Speedo has received quite a bit of buzz about their new suits (see photo of Michael Phelps, from a recent BBC article), which are supposedly partly responsible for the unprecedented number of broken records. Unfortunately, none of the press I have read gives any mention to the Chinese workers who manufacture Speedo bathing suits.

The National Labor Committee published a report of working conditions at the Guangzhou Vanguard Water Sport Products Company Ltd in Guangzhou, China. "Workers assigned to the compression molding machines, which form the swim masks, must complete one operation every nine to twelve seconds, 310 to 410 per hour and 3,720 to 4,920 operations during the daily 12-hour shift. Production line workers are allowed just one-and-a-half minutes to assemble each Speedo “Condor” swim mask for which they are paid less than two cents."

Click here for the full article by the National Labor Committee

BBC Article about the new Speedo bathing suit

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Shopaholic Sent to Sweatshop

Watch BBC Video Now!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Story of Stuff

If you haven't already checked this out, you should. View The Story of Stuff now!

What do you think?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Charity planning Banana Republic protest over employees' plight

The Guardian
Rebecca Smithers and Randeep Ramesh in Delhi

"One of the biggest fashion retailers in the US last night began an investigation into allegations that workers in India who make its clothes are being forced to work more than 70 hours a week for as little as 15p an hour.... "

Sim Sweatshop?

Play Sim Sweatshop then email us at to let us know what you think!

Does this game simulate sweatshop life? Does it provide interesting food for thought? What are some of the best ways to educate consumers about factory life?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What Microloans Miss

What Microloans Miss
by James Surowiecki
The New Yorker
March 17, 2008

This is a fascinating article about microfinance loans and the lack of financial support for small businesses in poor countries. The author calls this group the "missing middle," because they don't receive microcredit loans meant for individuals but neither can they get loans from large banks. The NGWF is working to help the cooperative through this funding no-man's land, although hopefully this article will spur larger debate and investment in this area...

An excerpt: "What poor countries need most, then, is not more microbusinesses. They need more small-to-medium-sized enterprises, the kind that are bigger than a fruit stand but smaller than a Fortune 1000 corporation. In high-income countries, these companies create more than sixty per cent of all jobs, but in the developing world they’re relatively rare, thanks to a lack of institutions able to provide them with the capital they need. It’s easy for really big companies in poor countries to tap the markets for funding, and now, because of microfinance, it’s possible for really small enterprises to get money, too. But the companies in between find it hard. It’s a phenomenon that has been dubbed the 'missing middle'.”