In the News

End of cheap labor era for China pits workers against manufacturers

The Associated Press

Global manufacturers struggling with life-or-death pressures to control costs are finding that the legions of low-wage Chinese workers they rely on have limits.

Recent protests and the official response to a spate of suicides at Foxconn Technology, a maker of electronics for industry giants such as Apple, Dell and Hewlett-Packard, suggests China's leaders are at least tacitly allowing workers to talk back...

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Sweatshops up for debate in gubernatorial candidates' forum

The Associated Press

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A former garment industry worker in Bangladesh was among those who attended a forum for Maine gubernatorial candidates on international trade policies.

The three candidates who attended Tuesday's forum — Democrats Pat McGowan, Libby Mitchell and Steve Rowe — all expressed support for policies Maine has adopted to encourage purchases of clothing made in non-sweatshop conditions...

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The Football Stitchers of Sialkot

Spiegel Online

The Football Stitchers of Sialkot

By Hasnain_Kazim [at] (Hasnain Kazim) in Sialkot, Pakistan

The city of Sialkot in Pakistan produces as many as 60 million hand-stitched footballs in a World Cup year. The firms here are running out of new workers since child labor was abolished. Western buyers may have a clear conscience, but the children of Sialkot now toil in the local brickworks instead.

Fair trade labeling isn't cut-and-dried

The Sacramento Bee

For some shoppers, when they buy their coffee, a bottle of honey and or that Mexican woodcarving, a "fair trade" label on it is just as important as the taste or the look or the cost.

The fair trade label of one international organization is familiar to at least half of consumers, according to a 2008 survey conducted in 15 countries for Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International.

Yet even as awareness grows, fair trade gins up controversy because the term is difficult to define – unlike, say, setting safe lead-paint levels for toys...