Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘sweatshop factories

How Monetary Currency instituted mendicancy?

Posted on November 9, 2010

Since mankind shifted from a barter economy to dealing with currencies, societies turned steadily and consistently away from production to a specie of mendicants.

In the barter trade, every individual in the tribe, clan, women, men, and children had a special task to support the survival of the tribe. 

Once a member is entirely incapacitated to be a productive entity in the order of the small community, or unable to get moving at a regular pace with the tribe to better seasonal greener pastures then, the member was relocated to a shady place near a source of water to tend to his peaceful death a “paradise for the old spirits“.

Most probably, a core of compassionate individuals delegated their services to aiding these old spirits as best they could.   They extracted from these elders oral stories of myths and traditional laws of conduct.

Transmitters of oral teaching and education are called “marabout” or “grios” in Africa:  They have been transmitting the oral spiritual traditions of communities around bonfires.

A few of them decided to institute religions, based on the captured myths told about the creation of the universe and what happen to the souls after death; until the written languages codified the sacred religious knowledge within the sacerdotal classes.

Currently, old people are still Not that scared of death: Just fearing a state of lack of liquid currency, lest they are forced to beg to staying alive.

They are Not afraid of dying of hunger:  Just apprehensive that no aides will come, unless they have to beg.

After years of toils and unconditional disposition to raise a family, sending them to universities, marrying their offspring, and distributing properties to their married children, old parents are dragging their arthritic feet as best they can and feeling ashamed to ask for small money.

I am witnessing a grandmother, wrecked with arthritis, barely able to shift its body during sleep, and having to do dishes, sweep, do laundry, preparing jams for the winter season, and even cook for her married daughter with six children, many of these children are way over 25 years of age.

I am witnessing a grandfather, having difficulty getting in a car and thus, deciding to stay home, dragging his feet three flats up in order to replenish water in the water tanks on the roof:  He had plenty of reasons not to trust automatic systems and the damage they did when they failed.

Old people are worried that their children will not make it in this new harsh world: They were not adequately trained to fending for their survival.

Old people without any social covering are waiting to die in pain and hopelessness.

Old people of the middle and upper classes, with health coverage, are willing to undergo heart surgery at the age of 80, only to survive three lousy months in pain and suffering.

I am pretty sure they were warned by surgeons of the humiliating conditions they will suffer, but sacrifice is forgotten at a senile age.

We beg for food and pocket-money, though we are entitled to vote, to drive expensive cars, to join armies, and to kill for “motherland”.

We beg for better grades; we beg for jobs; we beg for a raise; we lick asses to keep our jobs; we forget morality and ethical conducts and obey the boss; we claim that we are skilled survivors.

There was a time, still as valid now as ever, when materially fallen noblemen, had priority over the most disinherited people for the money collected in churches.

Poor Noblemen had to be secured firstlest the social structure disintegrates and chaos reign supreme.

Multinational financial institutions have to get first help:  They worked so hard to bilk people out of their earned money.

Multinational do Not beg: They demand their rights as knights and barons of the establishment.

The verb to “beg” was created for the poor people and it does not apply to the rich barons of industries who demand their rights to financial aids:  They invented the social and economic structure for the begging citizens.

We are effective beggars: we keep the mask of revolting against mendicant behaviors.

Wild animals and pets search for a shady and isolated place to die when the time approach:  They refuse further unnecessary suffering and pain.

They leave the company of the tribe:  They cannot expect the community to feed them; this is contrary to the nature of the specie.  Mankind is willing to beg mercilessly and assiduously to the last moment.

Millions of kids faking work, selling chewing gum on streets for a loaf of bread.  

Millions playing the meditative game, so that their collective spirits in prayers will bring about world peace, in exchange of one daily meal.

Billion of people are producing nothing.

They are the ones who cannot teach art but expose the results of art.

They cannot teach how to make shoes, but display instead varieties of shoes for you to select from.

The shopkeepers, working a lifetime in a box, collaborating with wholesalers, quickly turning over products in warehouses.

Engineers, supposedly trained to design products and services and ending up working salesperson.

Engineers  are hired to selling products and services, thinking that they can extend the illusion to consumers that they know something about the product or engineering practices.

It never crosses the mind of this engineer to make the effort of “re-designing” the product/system he is selling.

Sales people selling whatever there is to sell, uttering big technical terminologies: they have no ideas what these words mean.

Lawyers, shuffling papers and documents, bilking people, communicating with the lawyer of the other party, hammering out settlements, because they were Not trained or lack the talent to defend clients in courts.

Teams upon teams of “hygiene engineers” cleaning offices, gathering trash, vacuuming,  and then collecting garbage.

The lower middle class, learning technical skills, working around conveyor belts, assembling consumer products and canned food.

Now and then, facilitating modern lifestyle by updating plumbing and electrical systems:  running water, ready electrical power, and automatic appliances that were meant to liberating essential time for a real productive life, but falling short on target.

Who are the producers?  

They are the peasants in remote areas, no one paying them a visit, except wholesalers at harvest time.

Millions working in sweat shop factories:  the modern sacrificial lambs targeted to die at young age for disastrous workplace conditions.

Millions working in underground tunnels, extracting raw materials, trapped in worse conditions than taupe.

Millions working in open grounds, extracting raw materials, dying young, in polluted environment, for their daily meals.

If those are the people producing something then, how come so many trillions of dollar-kind money have been accumulated?

Trillions being talk about like we are meaning billions of dollars.

The world is currently  posting $60 trillion GNP per year; $15 trillion are saved by the “poorer” developing States so that multinational financial institutions move the surplus to the “powerful” States to maintain their higher standards of living.

The financial institutions cut out their commissions for facilitating the transfer of money from the poor people to the “richer” people maintaining high State indebtedness.

Last century, people were producing.  

In this century, worthless paper money are being printed, shifted, transacted, and transferred around as valuable earning: Fictitious wealth backed by the power of aircraft carriers and lethal killing equipment.

Millions of “men of war” in 200 official armies, begging for their daily meals in exchange for killing their own kinds, fighting for the “fatherland”.  

Millions of men of war enlisted in militia organizations fighting for the honor of the tribe, the trampled dignity of a local  leader, a religious cleric.

There was a long period in mankind history, tribes going on razzias expeditions against richer tribes and rounding up livestock.  Tribes expected razzias: They were meant for survival purposes under harsh conditions.

In the last three centuries, razzias on grand scale, are directed for pure greed.

Mankind: a specie of mendicants, with no dignity and no shame.

A specie that convinced itself that life is precious, even if they are totally worthless to producing anything spiritual.

Compassion is meant to help the abler body.

A specie toiling a lifetime not producing a dime’s worth;  unable to write an article, even an illegible one.

A specie no longer worth surviving.

The Other Side of Black Friday Price Tags

Throughout the Global South, underpaid workers face wage theft and injury to meet Western consumers’ demands.

‘This Is What A Feminist Looks Like’: Sweatshop factories producing £45 T-shirts

This repost is not meant to side with a British political party, but to refocus on the miseries of the sweatshop factories

A Mail on Sunday investigation revealed:

Feminist T-shirts proudly worn by Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Harriet Harman are made in ‘sweatshop’ conditions by migrant women paid just 62p an hour.

The women machinists on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius sleep 16 to a room – and earn much less than the average wage on the island.

The £45 T-shirts carry the defiant slogan ‘This is what a feminist looks like’. But one of the thousands of machinists declared: ‘We do not see ourselves as feminists. We see ourselves as trapped.’

The T-shirts are designed to make a political statement about women’s rights – but the female workers making them are paid just 62p an hour in an Indian Ocean ‘sweatshop’.

Between shifts women making garments emblazoned with the slogan ‘This is what a feminist looks like’ sleep in spartan dormitories, 16 to a room.

Scroll down for video 

The workers paid just 62p an hour: Machinists at the CMT factory in Mauritius with one of the 'feminist' shirts it would take nearly two weeks' of their wages to buy

The workers paid just 62p an hour: Machinists at the CMT factory in Mauritius with one of the ‘feminist’ shirts it would take nearly two weeks’ of their wages to buy

And critics say the low wages and long hours at the Mauritian factories amount to exploitation.

The shirts have been worn by Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Harriet Harman, all keen to display their feminist credentials – even though the Deputy Prime Minister last night admitted he had ‘no idea’ where the garments were made.

But The Mail on Sunday has toured a factory producing the T-shirts, where workers earn just 6,000 rupees a month – equivalent to £120.

The figure is just a quarter of the country’s average monthly wage, and around half of what a waiter earns.

Each ‘feminist’ T-shirt costs just £9 to make, but high street chain Whistles sells them for £45 each – a figure it would take the women a week and a half to earn.

The retailer promised an urgent investigation last night in the wake of the Mail on Sunday exposé.

At one factory visited by The Mail on Sunday, a female worker told us: ‘How can this T-shirt be a symbol of feminism when we do not see ourselves as feminists? We see ourselves as trapped.’

An official from factory owner Compagnie Mauricienne de Textile (CMT) told us he ‘would not be happy’ if the women left the work camp during the week in case they turned up for work ‘hungover’.

Whistles, whose customers include the Duchess of Cambridge, is selling the T-shirts in aid of women’s activism group The Fawcett Society – which receives all profits. The campaign is backed by fashion magazine Elle.

Reality: Migrant worker Primerose Marcelin, 37, at one of the T-shirt firm's factories on Indian Ocean island
Reality: Migrant worker Primerose Marcelin, 37, at one of the T-shirt firm’s factories on Indian Ocean island

Deputy Labour Leader Harriet Harman wore a shirt carrying the slogan on the front bench of the Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions last week, while the Labour and Liberal Democrat leaders proudly posed for photographs in Elle’s ‘feminism issue’ in the T-shirts.

Fayzal Ally Beegun, president of the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Union said: ‘The workers in this factory are treated very poorly and the fact that politicians in England are making a statement using these sweatshop T-shirts is appalling.

‘It would take a woman working in the factory nearly two weeks just to buy one shirt. What is feminist about that? These women have nothing in this world. They are paid a pittance and any money they do receive they send back home.

‘They work very long hours and have no lives other than their work. They are on four-year contracts that mean they don’t get to see their families in that time. What kind of existence is it when you are sharing your bedroom with 15 other women?

Ed Miliband (left) and Nick Clegg (right) posed in the 'This Is What A Feminist Looks Like' T-shirt

Slogan: Ed Miliband (left) and Nick Clegg (right) posed in the ‘This Is What A Feminist Looks Like’ T-shirt

Posturing: Harriet Harman wearing the T-shirt during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of  Commons
Posturing: Harriet Harman wearing the T-shirt during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of  Commons

Harriet Harman wears ‘This is what a feminist looks like’ t-shirt

‘The women have no careers or even the most basic of opportunities. This is not what feminism is supposed to be.’

Celebrities pictured wearing the feminist T-shirt in Elle magazine include Benedict Cumberbatch, Tinie Tempah, Eddie Izzard, Richard E Grant and Simon Pegg.

Yesterday a reporter and a photographer from The Mail on Sunday were given a guided tour of CMT’s factory in La Tour Koenig, north Mauritius.

As managing director Francois Woo showed us around the sleeping quarters he said:

‘All of our dormitories are identical. There are 16 beds in each room. They are based on university dormitories in China. They don’t need a lot of room because they only use them for sleep.’

He told us that the plant is one of six across the island where living conditions and wages are identical.

He could not say at which factory the Whistles T-shirts were made, but confirmed they made 300 at a cost of £9. ‘The machinists at our factories made the feminist T-shirt for Whistles’ he said, adding: ‘All the machinists earn 6,000 rupees.’

Mr Woo instructed workers to smile as our photographer took pictures of them on the shop floor.

The tour was delayed when we asked to view the women’s accommodation block. Staff made several phone calls and 30 minutes later we were allowed to view the bedrooms.

The 20ft square rooms are home to eight sets of bunk beds, each with a thin mattress and a pillow. Shelving on the far wall houses the workers’ meagre belongings.

Sleeping conditions: One of the dorms used by the women with thin mattresses and a few shelves for their meagre belongings 
Sleeping conditions: One of the dorms used by the women with thin mattresses and a few shelves for their meagre belongings

The women – who we could not talk to – work 45 hours a week basic and can earn more if they work overtime.

After the tour and without the company’s senior staff, we visited another of the company’s factories, in Curepipe.

Outside we spoke to one 30-year-old worker. She told us: ‘I have worked here for four years and I have not been able to see my son or husband in Bangladesh during all that time. We work very hard, sometimes 12 hour days, for not much money. I send all my money home and could not afford to fly back and see my family.

 I’ve not been able to see my son or husband in Bangladesh for four years, 30-year-old migrant worker

‘It is awful but we have no choice. In my country, the rupees I earn here are worth three times as much as they are in Mauritius.

‘How can this T-shirt be a symbol of feminism?

‘These politicians say that they support equality for all, but we are not equal.’

CMT has an annual turnover of £125 million. It produces 40 million T-shirts a year for clients including Topshop, Next and Urban Outfitters.

It employs 13,000 staff at its factories and about 4,500, all foreign, are housed on site. Migrants come from countries including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India and Vietnam.

There are around 2,800 female machinists. Workers are expected to produce around 50 shirts a day and face discipline if they do not reach their target.

Mr Woo said: ‘The Mauritian government has set out a minimum wage that we must pay and we abide by their rules.

‘I am like a parent to the workers. They are free to come and go as they please but if they go out on a weeknight I will not be happy because then they will turn up for work the next day hungover.

If people didn’t want to work for us then they don’t have to, nobody is forcing them. If they have the chance to earn more somewhere else then they should go elsewhere.

Control: Managing Director Francois Woo fears his immigrant staff would come in 'hungover' if they didn't sleep on site
Control: Managing Director Francois Woo fears his immigrant staff would come in ‘hungover’ if they didn’t sleep on site

‘If they didn’t like it, then we would not have existed as a company for 28 years.’

The factory was the focus of an exposé in 2007 when it was revealed that workers were being paid just £4 a day to make clothes for Sir Philip Green’s Kate Moss range at Topshop.

At the time, the factory employed agents who promised migrant workers good wages but when they moved to Mauritius they were told they would earn a pittance. The factory was also criticised for paying workers of different nationalities different wages.

Mr Woo added: ‘A lot has changed since then. The workers know exactly how much they will make when they start working here and people are paid the same, regardless of their race or sex.’ 

Last night Dr Eva Neitzert, deputy chief executive at the Fawcett Society said: ‘As a charity that campaigns on women’s rights in the labour market, we take ethical standards very seriously. We have been assured by Whistles that the “This is what a feminist T-shirt looks like” range has been produced to ethical standards.’

Dr Neitzert said they had originally been assured the garments would be produced ethically in the UK, and when they received samples in early October they noted they had in fact been made in Mauritius.

They were assured by Whistles that the factory was ‘a fully audited, socially and ethical compliant factory’ and decided to continue with the collaboration.

‘We have been very disappointed to hear the allegations that conditions in the Mauritius factory may not adhere to the ethical standards that we, as the Fawcett Society, would require of any product that bears our name,’ she said.

‘At this stage, we require evidence to back up the claims being made by a journalist at the Mail on Sunday. However, as a charity that campaigns on issues of women’s economic equality, we take these allegations extremely seriously and will do our utmost to investigate them.

‘If any concrete and verifiable evidence of mistreatment of the garment producers emerges, we will require Whistles to withdraw the range with immediate effect and donate part of the profits to an ethical trading campaigning body.

‘Whilst we wish to apologise to all those concerned who may have experienced adverse conditions, we remain confident that we took every practicable and reasonable step to ensure that the range would be ethically produced and await a fuller understanding of the circumstances under which the garments were produced.’

Factory: The factory was the focus of an exposé in 2007 when it was revealed that workers were being paid just £4 a day to make clothes for Sir Philip Green’s Kate Moss range at Topshop

Factory: The factory was the focus of an exposé in 2007 when it was revealed that workers were being paid just £4 a day to make clothes for Sir Philip Green’s Kate Moss range at Topshop

Whistles refused to say how many of the T-shirts had been made, or indeed where

The chain initially said they did not feel they had been given adequate time to respond to our questions about the T-shirts.

But a spokesman later promised: ‘We place a high priority on environmental, social and ethical issues. The allegations regarding the production of T-shirts in the CMT factory in Mauritius are extremely serious and we are investigating them as a matter of urgency.

‘CMT has Oekotex accreditation, [an independent certificate for the supply chain] which fully conforms to the highest standards in quality and environmental policy, while having world-class policies for sustainable development, social, ethical and environmental compliance.

‘We carry out regular audits of our suppliers in line with our high corporate social responsibility standards and can share the following information regarding the CMT factory in Mauritius.’

However the company acknowledged: ‘We will require time to thoroughly investigate the allegations with the factory and our lawyers in great detail. CMT is one of the largest suppliers to many high street brands, including the Arcadia group [owner of Topshop and Burton].

When she founded Whistles, former Topshop executive Jane Shepherdson vowed: ‘Customers cannot keep buying cheap clothes and not ask where they come from’ – as ‘someone somewhere down the line is paying’.

Last night, a spokesman for Nick Clegg said the Deputy Prime Minister had not known where the shirts were made. He said: ‘Nick Clegg had no idea where these T-shirts were being made and can only assume that the Fawcett Society were unaware of the origins, or they would not have asked him to wear it. He remains entirely supportive of efforts to ensure all women are treated as equals in this country and the world over.’

A spokesman for Labour Leader Ed Miliband and Deputy Leader Harriet Harman would only say: ‘This was a campaign run by Elle and the Fawcett Society to promote feminism and we were happy to support it.’ 

 

Not until you learn to sew: Will you learn what are sweatshop factories…

How to break the cycle of consumerism through awareness of sweatshop practice?

“Being able to sew means that when I see a piece of ready-to-wear clothing, I can see the hours of hard work that went into it.

And I get aware of how unrealistically low the prices are, and we expect to be able to pay for a throwaway dress or top.

I can see how $5 for a firsthand t-shirt that would have taken even a pro-seamstress over an hour to make cannot be a fair price, even without the costs of material and shipping. ..”

Layla Totah, of ‘The Old Fashioned Way’ sewing initiative, posted in NOW on Dec.10, 2012 under “Sewing against the stream”

 

“Cheap and fast fashion has changed the way most of us dress and shop.

Nowadays, trends in fashion move quickly. Necklines swoop and turn turtle, hems come in high and then make their way down to maxi lengths, all in a short space of time.

In this environment, shopping on a weekly basis becomes a necessity for those intent on keeping up.

This boom in shopping has altered the way we consider clothes.

Not long ago, an average of 64 new items of clothing a year (the number that Elizabeth Cline cites as today’s average in her recent book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Price of Cheap Fashion) would have seemed unthinkable, and non affordable to most.

This high number of garments is in exchange for a lower percentage of our household incomes than ever (3% as compared to 15% in 1900.)

Now, less money can go much further, and so we shop without pause, leaving no time to consider where our clothes are coming from and, equally importantly, where they will go once we have stopped wearing them.

Countless high street stores have been exposed for using inhumanely cheap sweatshop labor, paying barely live-able wages for excruciatingly long hours in cramped conditions.

Most of us are aware of the existence of cheap labor, yet struggle to connect its wrongs with the dresses and t-shirts and jeans that we buy. It has become increasingly difficult to disentangle finished garments from the fabrics and fingers that went into making them.

I consider myself lucky: my mum taught me the very nearly lost art of sewing when I was growing up. Making my own clothes not only brings me a lot of pleasure – being able to make clothes that fit how I want them to fit, in fabrics I choose from the shops of Bourj Hammoud (an Armenian quarter) in east Beirut– but also allows me to opt out of this consumerist cycle which is at least in part fueled by unjust practices.

While fashion used to be much more about self-expression, now it seems that it is driven foremost by ritual consumingsocializing on a Saturday has for many become synonymous with shopping.

I’m not standing in judgment on this – until I learnt to sew I too struggled to connect the clothes I saw in shops with the efforts that had gone into making them.

Making clothes isn’t easy or quick. Perhaps sparing a thought for that might help us to understand the knock-on cost of our fashion habits for those behind the sewing machines.

Note 1: Layla Totah is a sewing teacher in Beirut. Originally from London, she now runs ‘The Old Fashioned Way’ sewing initiative from her Sanayeh studio. 

Note 2: On sweatshop factories in Cambodia https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/part-1-fashion-industry-clothing-industry-who-is-being-sacrificed-background-of-mass-fainting/


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