Blog: Leonie BarrieSweatshop in Queens

Leonie Barrie | 24 July 2008

All too often we hear about worker exploitation in overseas apparel factories,  which perhaps gives us the glow of satisfaction that all’s well in those facilities that manage to cling on in the face of adversity in supposedly developed countries.

And the impression that poor working conditions just couldn’t happen on our own doorsteps is reinforced time and time again as retailers, brands, and importers chase lower and lower costs abroad, usually at the expense of producers closer to home where higher wage costs and a network of legislation exists to protect employees. 

But it’s clearly not the case, as a sensational expose by the New York Department of Labor found yesterday.

It has tagged more than 10,000 garments produced by Jin Shun Incorporated, a factory on the outskirts of Manhattan, as ‘Unlawfully Manufactured.’

It wants to draw attention to the fact that not only did the manufacturer swindle workers out of more than $5m in unpaid wages, but took extraordinary steps to conceal the violations - including coaching employees to lie to investigators’ questions.

The tags are a neat way of drawing attention to the problem. Under the “hot goods law,” it is a misdemeanor for anyone other than the Department or the consumer to remove these labels.

And it achieved an almost immediate result, since within hours of the tagging the manufacturer, Urban Apparel, paid $60,000 in underpayments to have the labels removed.

The Department of Labor also had harsh words to say to retailers and manufacturers: “Cursory inspection in monitoring factories is not enough. We in government are getting more aggressive in ensuring that suppliers abide by the law.

“While you may require your suppliers to abide by strict codes of conduct, these codes do workers no good if they are not aggressively enforced.”

Perhaps labour enforcers in other countries should take note too.

US: New York garment factory underpaid workers by $5m


BLOG

Likely shifts in the sourcing landscape in 2017

Continuing our look at what lies ahead for the apparel industry and its supply chain in 2017, the panel of industry experts consulted by just-style last week tackled likely shifts in the sourcing land...

BLOG

Trump trade policies and China tensions top concerns

This week our focus turns to first thoughts from a panel of industry experts consulted by just-style on the challenges and opportunities likely to face the apparel supply chain in 2017, with prospects...

BLOG

Happy New Year – and a first look at 2017

Welcome back after the holiday break, and from the team here at just-style I’d like to wish all our readers a happy and prosperous New Year....

BLOG

New re:source to help unravel sourcing decisions

Apparel sourcing is a complex process built on a mix of location, logistics, lead-time, price, compliance, risk and reliability. And it's in a constant state of flux as retailers, brands and manufactu...

just-style homepage



Forgot your password?