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Published: Wednesday 15 November 2006

www.sweatshopwatch.org

Chinese checker
Since the elimination of global garment and textile quotas on January 1, 2005, analysts have predicted that China will dominate global garment production. However, the question emerges: are Chinese workers "winning" or how much are multinational corporations profiting at their expenses? What are working conditions and wages of these workers? The site under review takes a look at some of these issues. It also has links to films which look at the situation from the worker's point of view. This is significant because while China is seen as the poster child of globalisation regime, there is limited information from labour's point of view.

The site is run by a coalition of labour, community, civil and women's rights groups committed to "eliminate exploitation that occurs in sweatshops". And, its not just China-centred. For example, it sites a US department of labor survey which shows that more than 67 per cent of Los Angeles's sewing shops violate minimum wage and overtime laws, and 75 per cent of them violate health and safety standards. Amongst sweatshopwatch's campaign successes is a landmark settlement between sweatshop workers and garment retailers in the US commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific Ocean. A corpus of US $20 million was created to pay back wages of 30,000 workers from China, Bangladesh, Thailand and other south-east Asian nations.

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