Above: More beneficiaries of free trade
As I posted about in January, Nike is no longer allowing the Workers Rights Consortium to monitor its Vietnam factory, ending its tradition of allowing for independent monitoring. The WRC has released a report evaluating the plant and it is not favorable to the company.
In the e-mail list sending out the report to supporters, this is the summary:
In spite of Nike’s refusal to assist the WRC, the organization has obtained initial findings through interviews with Hansae employees. These findings, described in further detail in the new report, are, frankly, quite damning. The labor rights violations—all violations of university codes of conduct—identified at the factory include:
Reckless management practices that endanger workers’ health, including extremely high production quotas, forced overtime, and insufficient rest breaks
Excessive heat on factory floors, which has led to many workers fainting from exhaustion at their work stations
Verbal harassment of workers, including yelling, swearing, and profane insults
Degrading restrictions on workers’ use of the factory’s toilets
Denial of legally-guaranteed sick leave
Firing of pregnant workers
Draconian and abusive restrictions such as forbidding workers from yawning
These findings are a stark contrast to Nike’s claim that the October strike was over a “miscommunication.” The gap between the reassuring portrait Nike has painted of this factory and the harsh reality revealed through worker interviews underscores the importance of independent monitors such as the WRC. Nike must be pressed to allow the WRC to conduct an onsite inspection of the factory so that its investigation can be complete and that our universities can obtain full knowledge of the working conditions at this collegiate supplier.
Forbidding workers from yawning. Let that sink in for a moment.
Clearly, we should defend globalization as a fundamentally just system making workers’ lives better! Why bother doing anything about the actual oppression of workers, like firing pregnant workers, banning workers from yawning, or having their factories collapse upon them? Different nations have different standards for yawning, and of course for factory safety, and that’s OK!