5 Companies That Still Use Slave Labor

5 Companies That Still Use Slave Labor

Let's talk about the modern slave trade.
42150
views

Growing up in a country where freedom is always a right and expectation — whether you live in the United States or one of the other 86 "free" countries — it is easy to believe that, compared to the well-known 1800s slave trade, we are doing pretty well when it comes to civil liberties, freedom, and overall social welfare. Documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) have been approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations, meaning that the vast majority of nations have agreed that every individual has the right to basic human dignity.

Despite this significant progress, however, there are 45.8 million people enslaved today, more than any other time in world history. The United States Department of Homeland Security has launched the Blue Campaign in light of this growing industry, hoping to raise awareness of the human trafficking that persists in local communities. Additionally, you can watch this video for a summary on the Global Slavery pandemic. I will write about the problem of human trafficking in the United States on another day; however, global slavery affects us whether it is in our city or halfway around the world. In fact, companies that you purchase from every single day use slave labor for their work instead of paying employees a fair wage.* Don't believe me?

Here are five companies that are using slave labor to make their products TODAY, and where you should shop instead.

Nestle

Nestle is one of the largest companies that has consistently carried out human rights violations all over the world. Not only did they illegally take water from California during the drought in 2015, but in the 1970s they got third-world mothers to use infant formula by selling it at reduced prices, and then when the mothers could no longer breastfeed, they raised the price of formula so much that many children were malnourished and starving.

Their most recent problems revolve around slavery in the cocoa industry. In 2009 several former child slaves sued Nestle because they were trafficked and forced to work on Nestle farms in Cote d'Ivoire. Another suit was filed by former child slaves in 2014, stating that "Studies by International Labour Organization, UNICEF, the Department of State, and numerous other organizations have confirmed that thousands of children are forced to work without pay in the Ivorian economy." In 2016, the Fair Labor Association executed an assessment of Nestle in Cote d'Ivoire. They claimed that 70% of Nestle farms were not trained on the prohibition of forced labor. Further, they stated that "there is no process in place to monitor, report, and remediate cases of forced labor at the farms." With this in mind, they did find evidence of potential forced and uncompensated labor. Additionally, they found evidence of child labor—many of these children never enrolling in school — in which children were getting paid little to nothing, and often working in dangerous conditions.

INSTEAD: buy from Ben & Jerry's or Theo. They will satisfy your sweet tooth and are Fair-Trade guaranteed.

Nike

Nike has REALLY cleaned up their act in the last several years, but with a standard of no slave labor, they still have quite a way to go. In 1992, activist Jeff Ballinger published an exposé in "Harpers" that revealed the story of a child in Indonesia working in disgusting conditions, and for a mere 14 cents per hour (far below the minimum wage in Indonesia at the time).

Since then, Nike has begun to report supply chain information. The most recent report claims that, in 2016, only 86% of their factories were up to the minimum standards they set. Though they give a good indication of how far the company has come, these standards are set by Nike and assessed internally, making it difficult to compare standards to a universal one.

INSTEAD: shop at Patagonia! All products here are Fair Trade Certified!

Starbucks

Starbucks claims a mission for ethical sourcing, meaning their company policy requires them to abide by a standard of "ethical sourcing" that they have created. They only have two Fair-Trade coffees available for purchase. After the development charity Oxfam reported that Starbucks was depriving Ethiopian coffee growers of $90 million every year, Starbucks was challenged by the public eye to “clean up their act,” and did so by creating their own “ethical sourcing” standards, that they implement themselves, and certify 99% of their coffee with. Whether or not these standards are viable, they are not Fair Trade Certified at this time.

The U.S. Department of Labor has a list of locations and goods that use forced and child labor. Starbucks lists coffees from countries such as Guatamala, Kenya, Costa Rica and Panama; however, none of these single-sourced coffees are certified by them as “Fair Trade.” Rather, they are all regions that are known to use child labor.

INSTEAD: buy the Starbucks Italian Roast and Café Estima; they are certified by Fair Trade! You can also order online from Café Justo, Jurang and Equal Exchange —entire companies dedicated to producing Fair Trade coffee.

H&M

A 2016 report stated that as of December 31, 2015, 31 out of 72 H&M suppliers were using illegal contracts. In other words, these contracts allowed for wrongful termination. Now I know what you are thinking: the current system of hiring/firing in the U.S. is full of problems, and it takes way too much work to fire a bad employee in most cases. Well, the situation in countries like Cambodia and India are a little different. Often times, employees of H&M will be forced to work for excessive overtime hours—far beyond the legal limit—with no increase in their weekly take home pay. They are also often working in sweatshop conditions, with no breaks and unsanitary environments. Moreover, the contracts allow the factory to fire a worker for refusing to work these long hours. In fact, a garment worker in Cambodia stated: "We often get sick around once a month. We don’t eat enough and work too much trying to maximize the piece rate. Also, we don’t stop to go to the bathroom. We often work through lunch breaks or go back into work early, so there is hardly any time to rest."

INSTEAD: shop at one of these other retailers that are guaranteed to have fair-trade labor!

Walmart

Well, this one is probably the least suprising yet. According to a 2016 report by the Wage Alliance on Walmart's value chain, Walmart refused to sign the 2013 Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh that 200 companies signed following the collapse of Rana Plaza. It also stated that all 14 factories in Cambodia were studied, and they all violated local overtime laws consistently, with some forcing 14 hour work days without overtime pay "in sweltering heat, without adequate supply of clean drinking water or any breaks." These same conditions were expressed by workers in factories in India, Indonesia, and Bangladesh. The report continued to list countless instances of workers given severely less than they were promised, or even cases where owners of factories fled without paying workers at all.

INSTEAD: OK, I know it's hard to pass up Walmart prices. However, here is a full list of companies that are fair trade. Even if you start small, I know you can find a way to cut back on your slavery footprint! Want to know how many slaves work for you now? Visit the Slavery Footprint mission to find out.

*I use the term “fair wage” because many people who are enslaved are trapped in a cycle of debt bondage. This means that an individual or family works for pennies per hour to pay off an ever-increasing debt. Oftentimes this debt is passed down for generations. To learn more about debt bondage and other forms of slavery, visit the non-profit End Slavery Now, here.

Cover Image Credit: iragelb / Flickr

Popular Right Now

15 Actual Thoughts You Have While Wandering Around TJ Maxx

God bless TJ Maxx.

19213
views

I recently went to TJ Maxx with a friend with the sole purpose of not buying anything. We literally looked at everything, though, and later, I walked out with half a dozen items I was not planning on buying. I'm just glad it was only six from the number of things I saw and liked.

Here were my thoughts as I wandered around TJ Maxx for an hour.

1. "A Michael Kors purse? I wonder how cheap it is..."

2. "Of course I have to check out the clearance section... except that's basically the entire store."

3. "I'm not sure what I would write in a notebook, but these are hella cute."

4. "This may look horrible on me but I'm going to try it on anyway."

5. "Maybe I should just look at some nice clothes for work. You can never have too many business casual clothes..."

6. "These Adidas shoes are so cheap yet still expensive."

7. "$5 makeup... How bad could it be?"

8. "American Eagle shorts for only $15?!"

9. "I can't carry all this stuff."

10. "Do I have a giftcard?"

11. "I want to decorate my house with everything in here."

12. "Oh, look, something I didn't need but buying anyway."

13. "Could I pull this off? It's cheap and looks good on the mannequin..."

14. "Yeah, I could use another phone case."

15. "Yes, I found what I wanted. No, I did not need any of this."

Cover Image Credit:

eleventhgorgeous / YouTube

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Never let your pant size define you again

Retailers do not tell you when they have made size changes.

1206
views

Facebook is one of my favorite pastimes seeing as you never truly know what you're going to stumble upon when you begin scrolling through your feed.

You are promised to get a handful of political arguments and blurbs about how Trump is ruining America, the occasional cute puppy video, and a series of clips of seemingly delicious cooking videos that make everything seem easier to cook than they realistically are.

However, the other day, my normal scroll through my feed of family and friends sharing their photos and ideas was interrupted by something that spoke to me — and I'm sure millions of other girls that came across it. A woman by the name of Cheyenne Storm Spence posted these photos below. Her message attached to these photos reads: "I feel like I need to point this out cause I am just blown away. All three pairs of shorts you see I bought from American Eagle.

The beige ones 5 years ago. The blue ones 2 years ago, and the burgundy just a week ago. Believe it or not, the beige shorts are a size 0. Although they look bigger than the rest. The blue ones are also a size zero.

However, the burgundy ones that I just got last week are a size four. Size has never really mattered to me, I truly believed I had grown four sizes in two years, I was okay with that, but I can only imagine how this affects others. No, the size of your pants does not define you but companies like these have changed their sizes this much in just a couple of years. My hope is that people become aware and do not let the "size of their pants effect them.

Ladies, understand that the sizes have gotten smaller over the years, and for some people, this is a relief, as they needed the sizes to change to fit them. Just please don't be alarmed if you suddenly "moved up four sizes."

Now you can imagine what most girls are thinking when they read this... "oh, thank God!" I know I did.

However, this just draws our attention to a bigger issue. No one from any of these companies that play this game has made it public. That makes me physically sick. There are girls out there who truly go home devastated after having to move a size or two up, and the fact that these changes made to sizing haven't been made public up until this point is appalling. That is why I have chosen to share this not only on Facebook but on other platforms.

No girl should ever feel ashamed of their change in size. We are stuck in this era where everyone is promoting self-love and body positivity; but how are we supposed to do any of that when retailers around the world are doing everything in their power to prevent it? My hope goes hand in hand with Ms. Spence — that girls do see this and become aware of it.

This knowledge can change so many things if we let it be heard. Take it from a girl who thought she went from a size 6 to a size 10 in 4 months, we all deserve better. I'm not saying boycott American Eagle or any other retailer for that matter.

However, I truly believe promoting this awareness is crucial to the mental health of millions of girls out there.

Related Content

Facebook Comments