Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Puma, Reebok and Gap are at it again - Sweatshop Use!

uk beauty blog sweatshops


Sportswear and fashion brands have long been at the centre of allegations involving the use of sweatshops. Nike was once publicly exposed as using child labour in the production of their footballs but now its come to my attention that Puma, Reebok and Gap have been hit by claims of unethical practices involving the use of sweatshops in El Salvador.

A recent study was conducted by the American National Labour Committee in collaboration with Salvadoran women's right advocacy organisation Women Transforming over a 7 month period looking at factory conditions and involving interviews with workers, visiting their homes and lab tests on drinking water. The factory studied was Ocean Sky who make garments for many major retailers including Adidas subsidiary Puma, Reebok and Gap. They also make NFL shirts.

The study discovered that female workers at the factory were paid just 8 cents per NFL shirt when the shirts in question retail for $25 – that means they receive just 0.3% of the shirts retail value. A team of 14 workers is expected to sew 1500 per day (approximately 12 per hour per worker).

The women are held in appalling conditions and locked in the factory which is bordered with barbed wire and guarded by men carrying shotguns. The workers are cursed and humiliated with superiors often shouting abuse and obscenities if they don’t work fast enough. All overtime at Ocean Sky is mandatory which is illegal but goes on all the same. Workers at the factory earn just 72 cents per hour which the Salvadoran government freely admits is just a 1/4 of what a family needs to earn to cover even their basic needs.

Even the drinking water at the factory comes under fire. Despite the sweltering heat the drinking water itself is undrinkable. It was found to be contaminated and filthy and when tested contained fecal coli which can cause diarrhea, intestinal illness and serious infection. Six workers at the factory have been fired for daring to mention the state of the water and mention the word union and it earns you an instant dismissal.

No doubt Reebok, Puma and Gap will claim the had no idea what was going on but at the end of the day the buck stops with them. You would think with all the publicity surrounding unethical garment manufacturing and sweatshop use that they'd be more aware and do spot checks of their suppliers from time to time but it seems these companies value the bottom line above all else even human rights and ethical treatment. Gap has been supplied by this company for 5 years surely in all that time concerns would have been raised and action taken. We'll probably never know but one thing is for sure unethical practices likes these must stop but unfortunately unless consumers hit them where it hurts (in the pocket) things will probably never change.


  1. Your blog is great你的部落格真好!!
    If you like, come back and visit mine: http://b2322858.blogspot.com/

    Thank you!!Wang Han Pin(王翰彬)
    From Taichung,Taiwan(台灣)

  2. Wow, this is crazy!! I knew this type of thing happens, but hearing actual statistics and everything makes it a lot more real! This is good information.

  3. Great informative post! Loving the new theme and stance! xx

  4. I'm pretty sure these guys are not the only ones I remember the big tv programme that was on about primark. I mean when they sell their clothes for so little there must be somewhere along the line where they cut their costs which I'm guessing is cheap labour.

  5. I'm sure these are just the tip of the iceberg I think a lot of brands employ similar tactics to cut prices and you can pretty much guarantee i'll be exposing more brands in the future.

  6. thats my hope that by knowing the facts at least a few people will avoid these brands.

  7. Thanks huni so nice of you to say so :)

  8. ugh. this is sick. i remember beginning of last year i read something about reebok using sweatshops and having horrible working conditions and i vowed to never buy reeboks again. but i'm mad at puma cause i just bought a pair of puma sneakers thinking i was safe. i've also been down on nike because of the allegations that you mention from a few years back. who on earth are we supposed to trust? it's ridiculous. and gap, ugh! i don't even shop there but i'm mad. this bothers me so much.

    thank you for writing about this and bringing it to peoples' attention. i will share it on twitter.

    Kristy Eléna - Full Time Fabulous
    Vogue Gone Rogue
    Twitter: @kristyelena

  9. Thx Kristy. Yep Nike aren't to be trusted either as there have been recent allegations about them too. Gap are the worst of the bunch as they got caught using child labour in india just a year ago.

  10. Oh my goodness...how terrible. Now that it's been brought to light, I hope serious changes are made ASAP!

  11. I would hope so but Gap's unethical production techniques have been highlighted on more than 2 occasions in the past and still nothing has changed so im not hopeful :(

  12. There are so many brands that use sweatshops to cut costs and keep prices low for the consumer. It's a big problem, but a lot of the more ethical brands charge an arm and a leg for their products. It's a real shame because sure, you can vote with your dollars by not shopping at Gap, but most of the affordable alternatives are just as bad.

  13. Gosh, this is atrocious. I own one single item by Gap, a treasu(red) shirt which I bought for the wordplay, but I've since come to think much more critically of them!


i love comments i check out all your blogs :)