The Nameless Workers Who Give Us All

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary Over three hundred workers in a factory in Cambodia that manufactures Nike shoes went on strike over pay. They wanted each worker to have a U.S. $12.00 every month allotment for transportation to and from work along with the U.S. $74.00 they get paid a month. Even by Cambodian standards, these workers are not being paid enough to go to and from work—where they work 12 hours a day. Their strike was met with riot police with electric batons. Most of the workers are women. One of the striking women was pregnant. The brutality of the police caused her to miscarry and lose her baby. The Cambodian authorities said they will “investigate” the attack on the workers. Who is kidding whom?

The Nike corporation knows what the conditions are at this factory, and for the workers. They know how dirt cheap Cambodian labor is, and that even the basic labor laws to protect these workers are not even remotely enforced. This is why Nike chose to have its shoes made in Cambodia. This comes on the heels of the factory fire in a garment building in Bangladesh where over 1,000 people were killed. The condition of the factory roof was so bad that it collapsed. The factory manufactured clothes for export to many parts of the world (including Walmart stores). These two incidents are just part of the tip of the iceberg on the conditions and horrid work standards that hundreds of millions of people are forced to endure so that they can make things we have in our stores and use in everyday life.

As usual, the corporations will claim that they “knew nothing about any of the conditions the workers live under.” Yeah, right! They knew full well the conditions when they laid down the foundations for the buildings, made the first deals with their Cambodian or Bangladeshi counterparts, and hired all those workers. When we look at clothing, toys, TV sets, even the purses and wallets men and women wear, we should give a thought to all those people who have toiled and suffered to make these products possible for us. We should also be petitioning our congressional representatives about how corporations treat these people who give us so much, and how more publicity and news media coverage should be given to those who labor in all these Third World countries. When you see products with labels like “Made in China,” “Made in Bangladesh,” “Made in Cambodia,” “Made in India,” “Made in Mexico,” “Made in Egypt,” please spare a thought for all those nameless workers who are literally sweating blood and tears to make all the things we use everyday.

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