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Workers Call for Holiday Gap Boycott
The Associated Press State &
November 28, 2002
By IAN STEWART, Associated Press
Garment workers from Indonesia are appealing to consumers in the United
States to boycott Gap products during the holiday season to protest labor
conditions at factories in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Calling many of the Gap-contracted factories sweatshops, the workers said
conditions were inhumane.
"We are treated like animals," Sudaryanti, a 23-year-old garment worker
from a Gap factory in Indonesia, said Wednesday through an interpreter.
"We are abused if we do not work the way the supervisor wants." Sudaryanti,
who like many Indonesians uses only one name, was in the United States
with several other Indonesian workers to raise awareness of poor labor
conditions in factories used by Gap.
With the holiday shopping season going into high gear, laborer advocates
have stepped up an ongoing campaign against the San Francisco-based Gap
In a new 24-page study on working conditions in Gap factories, the Union
of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees, known as UNITE, accused
the Gap of poor health and safety conditions in factories contracted by
the multibillion dollar company.
While the Gap does pay minimum wage in most of the countries where it
hires factories, it is still hard for most workers to make ends meet,
said Ginny Coughlin, the director of UNITE's Global Justice for Garment
The report also cited union busting activities by management, low wages
and, in some instances, corporal punishment to force laborers to meet
Wages are so low in Indonesia, Lesotho and El Salvador that many workers
are forced to live in ramshackle huts without running water or electricity,
A spokeswoman for the Gap said the factories were not owned by the Gap,
but were independently contracted by the Gap and other companies.
"We share the concerns and are aware of these conditions," said Stacy
MacLean. "We're doing more than most people and are committed to work
on it through the long term."
UNITE's study cited abuses at Gap factories in Cambodia, Lesotho, Indonesia,
Bangladesh, El Salvador and Mexico.
Like most major garment manufacturers, the gap employs clothing subcontractors
to produce their line of products. Some of the worst labor rights violators
are factories owned by Taiwanese and South Korean companies, Coughlin
While Gap men's pants cost between $39.50 and $59.50, many workers in
the company's Lesotho factories earn about 30 cents an hour.
For the first three quarters of its fiscal year, Gap earned $228.7 million,
or 26 cents per share, on sales of $9.8 billion. At the same juncture
last year, Gap had earned $26.4 million, or 3 cents per share, on sales
of $9.76 billion.
On the Net: http://www.behindthelabel.org