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Boycott and demonstrations to attack chains marketing 'sweatshop clothes'

Haaretz  |  August 12, 2009  |  Share  |  Source article

Demonstrations and a consumer boycott are being organized in response to a Haaretz report detailing alleged sweatshop conditions at a clothing factory in Jordan that supplies such stores here as Irit, Bonita, Jump and Pashut.

The allegations came from a report compiled by the U.S.-based National Labor Committee, noting the Jordanian factory Musa Garments is owned by two Israelis, Jack Braun and Moshe Cohen. The report says workers at the factory do an average work shift of 13 hours, seven days a week, for a monthly wage of $230. Employees who miss a shift lose two or three days' pay, the report says, and the workers suffer inhumane conditions - meager food rations and accommodations lacking reliable running water.

Jack Braun says the report is "a total lie," and the truth is completely different. "The workers went on strike for a reason I don't know. As a result, human rights organizations arrived, and the workers lied, though every one of their claims was proven false."

The National Labor Committee report was provided to Kav La'Oved, the Worker's Hotline for the Protection of Worker's Rights, which is organizing a demonstration in Tel Aviv on Sunday, to be held opposite the Azrieli Center, where the stores reportedly marketing clothing from Musa Garments have branches.

MK Ilan Ghilon (Meretz), a member of the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, said there is a need to address the subject through legislation. "First import permits should require provisions that deal with international labor laws so it will not be possible to import products manufactured at plants violating these laws. In addition, there is a need to act on the broad implementation of international labor laws to bar unethical child labor or workers being employed in conditions of servitude. From an economic standpoint, the public must be informed where goods come from."

Shelly Yachimovich (Labor) said: "This is a frightening phenomenon of exploitation that, of course, didn't begin today." Yachimovich is one of the sponsors of legislation pending in the Knesset requiring the government to give preference in some procurements to Israeli-made clothing, so in public tenders preference would go to Israeli textile manufacturers for uniforms for the Israel Defense Forces, the Israel Prisons Service and the Israel Police. The uniforms in use are currently being made by Chinese manufacturers.

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