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How a Single Person Can Raise Awareness About Global Labor Exploitation

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**FILE**Workers at a Nike factory on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, assemble shoes in this Oct. 10, 2000, file photo. Michigan State, among many schools with sponsorship agreements with Nike and the school will have senior associate athletic director Mark Hollis joining Nike officials for an upcoming tour of manufacturing facilities in Vietnam and China. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

When I write about trade, globalization, sweatshops, and the need for international labor standards, many commenters ask “well, what can I do?” Here’s something.

A Nelson nursing student spent last week trying to live her life as if she were a garment worker in Bangladesh, in an effort to highlight sweatshop practices.

Yasmeen Jones-Chollet worked 16 hours a day sewing bags on Trafalgar Street in Nelson, only allowing herself to take three 10-minute breaks a day.

In keeping with sweatshop practices, she wasn’t allowed to talk to other people or see her five-year-old son. However after her shift ended at 10pm each night she was allowed to upload a diary note to her Facebook event page.

After seven days of hard graft, she spent yesterday in Trafalgar St giving away the bags and talking to people about exploitation of workers.

Ms Jones-Chollet said she did it to raise awareness of exploitation in the fashion industry.

There is actually plenty you can do to advance the cause of international labor standards. Read about it, talk to your family. Work to get your schools, churches, workplaces, etc. to use sweatshop-free clothes and push them to sign agreements on the issue. You can also engage in any number of direct action tactics, such as Jones-Chollet did, or you could hand out leaflets, or schedule film showings about the issue, or etc, etc, etc. There is so much you can do–if you care enough about workers dying making your clothing to do something about it.

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