Why Purchase Fair Trade Products?
In March of 2012, Bill Weir on ABC’s Nightline was the first journalist allowed onto the Apple production line in China. He exposed how Apple was exploiting workers in these factories. Weir discovered many labor law violations such as: 60 hour work weeks, $2 hourly wages, and excessive overtime.
As consumers, we are faced with many different choices about the different products we buy. We have become used to purchasing products at competitive, reduced cost. However... buyer beware! Many of these products are made by workers who are not fairly compensated for their work. They are made in sweat shop conditions in foreign countries – often in unsafe conditions.
From the Business Human Rights Documentation project, which is an initiative to raise global awareness about the impact of business activities on human rights, factory workers in China are:
Hired by large corporations, which rarely pay fair wages to their employees.
Factory workers frequently work long hours without rest and fear losing their jobs if they refuse overtime.
Workers often live in corporate dormitory housing with very little privacy, and with restrictions on their freedom of movement. (Business Human Rights Documentation Project, 2013)
Many American companies have moved their manufacturing facilities overseas where they can find these low-paid workers. They expect these workers to work in buildings with no heating or cooling. They do not pay fair wages and offer no benefits. Often, workers travel to factories in distant cities and are separated from their family and friends.
You may argue that these companies are creating jobs where none existed. That they are helping workers and improving the local economy with these jobs. At first, this may appear to be true but when you look more closely, you will find that these companies are exploiting workers. Sweat shop workers are not even paid enough to cover their daily living.
At Krafty Kats, we are committed to selling Fair Trade products. These products are manufactured with the idea of helping workers receive fair compensation and in a safe environment. You can help by purchasing Fair Trade products and stop purchasing those procucts made in sweat shops.
There are many organizations like the Fair Labor Association, Fair Trade USA and the Business Human Rights Documentation Project which are monitoring the labor practices with low-wage workers. They work with small and large companies to set standards, similar to our own labor laws:
Companies shall adopt and adhere to rules and conditions that respect workers
Every employee shall be treated with respect and dignity
No use of forced labor - including prison labor, indentured labor, or bonded labor
No child labor: No person shall be employed under the age of 15
Companies shall provide a safe and healthy workplace setting
Companies shall not require workers to work more than the regular and overtime hours allowed by the law of the country where the workers are employed.
At Krafty Kats, we support companies who are compliant with the standards.
Let us tell you the story of one fair trade company - Pilgrim Imports. Their story started over 30 years ago in a small villiage outside Chaing Mai, Thailand. Traditional village life had deteriorated to poverty and children were sent to work in Bangkok factories and in the tourist trade. Today, there are now over 400 villagers who live and work together. They use traditional metal working skills to create honest and clean products.
By purchasing Pilgrim Imports products, you will help to support a village, preserve local traditions, and allow families to stay together.
Since Bill Weir exposed workers in Apple's factories in China, Apple has changed their practices to comply with the Fair Labor Association's standards. They are now one of many companies such as Nike, Nestle, and Asics who now comply with these standards.
By learning a little bit about the companies we buy our products from – and possibly by paying a little bit more for products, you will be assured that you are purchasing a product which has been made by workers who are compensated fairly. They are not expected to work more than the labor laws in their country.
With this, we will be “working together for the good.” (Pilgrim Imports, 2005)
Business Human Rights Documentation Project (2013). High Tech, Low Pay. 11/04, 2013: http://www.bhrd.org/fe/infocus.php?page=20
Fair trade USA.org: What is fair trade?. (2013). Retrieved 10/14, 2013, from
Fair Labor Association: Protecting workers rights worldwide. (2013). Retrieved 11/12, 2013, from http://www.fairlabor.org/our-work
Fair Trade Resource Network: (2013). Retrieved 11/14, 2013 What Makes Fair Trade http://www.fairtraderesource.org/learn-up/faq/
Pilgrim imports: What fair wages and fair trade means. (2005). Retrieved 10/12, 2013, from http://pilgrimimports.com/?page_id=3500
Krafty Kats - 11/19/13