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Working conditions in Wal-Mart factories

Jocelyn Ford Sep 28, 2006
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SCOTT JAGOW: The things you find at Wal-Mart are made in more than 7,000 factories in more 60 countries. The company just came out with its annual report on the conditions in those factories. Jocelyn Ford reports.


JOCELYN FORD: Last year Wal-Mart blacklisted 141 factories, mostly because they used underage labor.

The number of serious violations rose 15 percent. Wal-Mart says that’s mostly because it’s doing more surprise audits.

An increasing number of foreign brands with factories in China insist on inspecting labor conditions, and experts say that’s helping raise workers’ awareness of their rights.

Manufacturer Jeffrey Graham says factories used to be able to count on workers doing illegal 20-hour shifts if they paid time and a half. But no more.

JEFFREY GRAHAM:“Some workers will just walk out. And I was pretty surprised at that, because the thought was OK well you can walk out, there’s someone else willing to do it. But now with better conditions in other factories, people are starting to have a harder time finding workers.

So factory owners have to improve working conditions to stay in business.

In Beijing, I’m Jocelyn Ford for Marketplace.

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