TAIPEI, Taiwan (GlobalPost) — Hourly wages below a dollar. Firings with no notice. Indifferent bosses. Labor brokers that leech away months of a worker’s hard-earned wages. A corporate shell game that leaves no one responsible.
Embarrassed companies have vowed to do better. They’ve drafted “codes of conduct” for their Asian suppliers, and promised more factory audits to catch abuses.
“These codes of conduct and audits are new tools that every brand will have, and they feel so proud of themselves,” said Jenny Chan, a labor rights activist formerly with Hong Kong labor rights group Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM). “But the codes have limits. To see fundamental change, you have to get labor groups involved and gain the trust of workers. Otherwise it’s just a cat-and-mouse game between auditors and suppliers.”