May 27, 2008
By Mary Hamilton, Whitby, ZZ

No person should be without their human rights. Everyone should have a place to live, food to eat, clothing to wear, enough money to take care of their families and a job which pays enough for all this to happen. Sweatshops violate human rights. A sweatshop is “a shop or factory in which employees work long hours at low wages under poor conditions.” ( Too many humans are forced to work for little money in unsanitary and insecure working conditions in China. Many other countries around the world (mainly countries in the third-world) also have no protection from these unacceptable labour conditions.

Nike is a very well known shoe and athletic wear company. Not many people know that Nike controls many sweatshops. Nike should not be allowed to pay people less than a living wage, make them work for an outrageous amount of hours, and make them work under the present appalling laws and conditions.

A living wage is “A wage sufficient to provide minimally satisfactory living conditions.” ( Nike employees do not even receive this small, living wage. “Nike gains this profit through the perpetuation of human suffering. The wages Nike pays are less than workers need to live on. No one can survive in the long term on Nike pay.” ( Some sad facts are that some Nike employees in China receive only $1.60 each day, when three small meals a day on average costs about $2.00. In fact, it would take only 4% of Nike’s advertising money to provide all of their employees with a living wage. These workers earn only an average of 20 cents an hour. In these sweatshops, employees are not paid extra when they work forced overtime. In response to all this, Nike says, “Workers in Indonesia earn Rupiah, not dollars. Characterizing these wage packages in U.S. dollars is simply inappropriate.” (Harris, 2001) And yet, all the amounts above are not what they earn in ‘Rupiah’, but what they earn in U.S. dollars. The wages Nike provides in these sweatshops is simply intolerable.

The amount of hours Nike employees work is plainly unjust. “While labour laws say the maximum yearly overtime is 200 hours, on average Nike workers are forced to work 500+ hours per year. If workers refuse, they are punished or receive a warning. After three warnings, they’re fired.” ( Nike employees work 77-84 hours per week, seven days a week. That is 11-12 hours of work each day. For all those hours, they earn only $1.60. “In 25% to 50% of Nike’s factories, work hours exceed legal limit.” ( These hours violate every code of conduct you could find anywhere. “The long working hours at these factories also violate Nike's own Code, which stipulates that workers work no more than 60 hours of work per week.” ( Workers are not permitted to take any breaks during these long hours of work, and are not allowed to go to the washroom more than once. When, as often is the case, employees do not complete their work for the day, they are forced to work without pay until they complete it. Nike should not be permitted to force their employees to work as long as is stated above.

Nike employees do not work in safe and sanitary working conditions. “It is a common occurrence for workers to faint from exhaustion, heat, fumes and poor nutrition during their shifts.” ( There is corporal punishment in Nike factories and fining for many false reasons, such as being found talking, being pregnant, and being older than the age of 25. At Nike, they have very cruel and unique punishments. “56 women workers at a Nike factory were forced to run around the factory’s premise in the hot sun because they weren’t wearing regulation shoes. 12 fainted during the run and were taken to the hospital.” ( “15 Vietnamese women were hit over the head by their supervisor for poor sewing. 2 were sent to the hospital afterward.” ( In an average Nike factory, there are approximately ten children in the sewing section alone. Nike replies “The way we approach business is simple-relentless improvement.” (Harris, 2001), but according to the facts above, either Nike isn’t telling the full truth or they aren’t improving enough. The working conditions of Nike are unbearable, as they make work painful for their employees.

In conclusion, Nike does not provide a beneficial working environment for its employees, through its low wages, the unbelievably long working hours, and through the dreadful working conditions. In no country should Nike sweatshops be legal. Nike is abusing its power, and it has to stop!

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This article has 22 comments.

website21 said...
on Nov. 19 2014 at 2:24 pm
you do make a good point but if they dont have a good resumes they cant get any other job. So thats probably why thay can't get a good job. Also if they quit they wont have enough money for insurance or rent or even enough money to feed them and their family.  

DH42 said...
on May. 6 2014 at 12:38 pm
i like nike clothes and runners its their choice to work there so if they dont quit why are we concerned about it they can stop all this if they want but they dont so why are we getting involved

on Nov. 15 2012 at 8:01 pm
I'm presently working on a Seniors level Economics assignment in Australia and I'd like to point out a few fundamental errors. I'll probably be crucified for this, but I feel a need to add a grain of salt to this article, if you will.  I do not deny that at a western standard these statistics are appaling. I work at a cinema and it's pretty easy stuff, and I still get paid $11AU an hour. I don't deny that these people are very, very poor.  However, before we condemn the owners of these sweatshops, a few questions should be asked. Firstly, what is the alternative for these workers? These people are at the sweatshop by choice, not because someone put a gun to their head and told them to start sewing. $1.60 may not seem like a lot but in their country it's the best option they have. Let's sau we all took the advice of some of the comments and "Boycot Nike". Assuming that a few kids refusing to buy Nike shoes actually makes a difference and Nike does pull out of Indonesia(As for where they'd go, I'll discuss that shortly), then what do you think would happen to the workers? The women will most likely go into prostitution along with some of the children and whatevers left will be left to pick through the rubbish tips for things worth selling. Alright, so maybe instead of telling Nike to pull out entirely, we should pressure the Indonesian government to "Fulfil their human rights obligations" and raise the minimum wage, in order to improve the conditions. In that case, Nike will pull out and move to somewhere else, away from public scrutiny- maybe Colombia, maybe Burma, Sierra Leone, the list goes on. This world is an unjust place and poor people are very easy to exploit.  Nike is just one country who uses sweatshops. Most major manufacturers use sweatshops today, simply because it's cheaper than paying an American or an Australian to do it. One final thing I will say, is that if you look into the history of most developed countries, you will find Sweatshops. Most of our countries have a manufacturing period, where workers laboured in bad conditions for minimal pay, but this is just one of the steps towards development.  Nike buys their goods off contractors, who are somewhat a middleman in the chain of supply- these people operate under indonesian law. If you truly want to make a difference for these workers, then attack the root of the problem- the governments of the countries involved.  Conclusion- Don't be so quick to condemn sweatshops, when they give a rate of pay unavailable to most people in undeveloped countries. Yes, Nike could do more, but would you be willing to pay extra for your Nike Shoes if they did? If you boycott Nike and they give the jobs back to the Americans, then you just have more unemployed workers.

mr. thunder said...
on Oct. 25 2012 at 7:57 am
okay lets face it...nobody will boycott nike. all we need to do is find a way to improve the sweatshops. is boycotting them really the solution? whats one person going to do to nike...hell, whhats 900 people boycotting nike going to do? they have almost 3times that many people just working for them.

charlie98 said...
on Jan. 31 2012 at 11:30 am
i totally agree that nike should face there problems and think people should all be treated the same all over the world but i kinda know this is never gonna happen

TcCollins said...
on Jul. 6 2011 at 4:45 am
I have to say for one, the truth must be spoken, i say that nike will never face the problem face to face, i say for one time we need to think of others, i think that god has blessed you, and i think that maybe the world will have equallity, maybe after you and me are long gone but the possibniltys are endless all we need is a few steps towards that bright light we are all aiming for...

svds said...
on Apr. 22 2011 at 10:32 pm
I LOVE how you provided citations; that can actually be very important in the long run. I love seeing articles like this, PLEASE write more so the public can be alerted and changes can be made!!

GaelicC said...
on Jan. 2 2011 at 5:17 am
GaelicC, Longford, Other
0 articles 0 photos 91 comments

Favorite Quote:
No -Rosa Parks

What an article! I heard that Nike gave low wages, but I never knew anything about it to this level! And to make it worse, I've tons of Nike clothing and have bought their runners for as long as I can remember!:( They're very wrong, and awareness should be raised and this madness MUST stop!!!:(

I hate these sad stories but they are the truth throughout the world today.

Brilliant article.Thanks for spreading awareness!

LT44 said...
on Dec. 14 2010 at 1:21 pm
Everyone has the choice to work there, and the fact is that people do. Are the conditions horrible? Yes. Should they be changed from a humanitarianism stand point? Yes. But from a business stand poitn the yare doing just fine. If people were to refure to work, conditions would get better, but the fact of the matter is that lots of peopel are willing to work in such bad conditions and for such low wages because they cannot do anythign else. Nike should do something, but economically they are doing everythign right.

on Dec. 11 2010 at 5:35 pm
BeatleMania16, A, Delaware
0 articles 0 photos 12 comments

i COMPLETELY agree!!!!!

i think we should all boycott nike.

RB701 said...
on Oct. 28 2010 at 3:07 pm
RB701, Plaquemine, Louisiana
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments
I agree with you fully. Sweatshops are a horrible way of making a band. If it isn't even going to take more than 10% of advertisement money to fund these people's lives, but they cant even give them that. Those people can't even get three small meals and we fuss if we don't have money to shop. We have to think outside of our social boxes, and look at the problems of the world around us.

tsa502 BRONZE said...
on Oct. 28 2010 at 12:41 pm
tsa502 BRONZE, Plaquemine, Louisiana
3 articles 0 photos 6 comments
This article is well written. Nike sweatshops shouldn't be legal if workers are going to be treated wrongly and misused. In no country should a person have to go to work and their work day is horrible each  and everyday. The working conditions are bad, and it needs to come to an end. Even though I won't stop purchasing Nike products, I will still support the fact that Nike sweatshops should be illegal in countries like China and Indonesia.

smj4410 said...
on Oct. 28 2010 at 11:59 am
smj4410, Plaquemine, Louisiana
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
what dont kill me only makes me strong

I agree, this is a well written article. No one should have their human rights taken away because of a job. The people working in Nike's sweatshop has no life. They only make $1.60 a day. Thats not enough for anyone to live off of, eat off of, to buy clothing to wear, or to take care of their families. Working at Nike sweatshop will not got the job done for anyone in life.

on Oct. 6 2010 at 4:30 pm
missTaco BRONZE, Kingston, Massachusetts
4 articles 0 photos 53 comments

Favorite Quote:
Enjoy Today, because you could die tomorrow

the conditions are bad, i agree, but people would actually be worse off because of the large population there are not enough jobs to go around, the one big disadvantge of technology

msjean07 said...
on Sep. 17 2010 at 7:39 pm

Is that how Nike justifies profiting off of sweatshop laborers? What a perfect excuse for coming into their country, exploiting their labor resources and repressing their basic human and labor rights.

The least we could do is pay them a living wage.

on Sep. 4 2010 at 3:30 pm
softballbby BRONZE, Berea, Kentucky
2 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"sometimes things fall apart so better things can fall together"

nike makes enough money to provide better working facilities and higher pay wages then they do. the fact that they dont is outrageous. 

on Jun. 18 2010 at 12:38 am
K9_Typical_Islander SILVER, Koror, Other
7 articles 0 photos 47 comments

Favorite Quote:
Hours of boredom followed by moments of excitement (and adrenaline)- that's fishing

I agree about the negative impact of sweatshops, especially if they employ children. Like it is mentioned in an earlier comment, the opposing viewpoint can claim, though how low it may be, that sweatshops do provide income. We must also consider the fact maybe these employees took this job as an opportunity to escape prosititution or drug-related trafficig. The conditions in which sweatshops are portrayed are not wholly alien or new to us- speaking humanity. In some point in American history, there was a period, likely the Great Depression, which children were used in mining and cotton facilities. Though it was terrible, it was the only common solution for them to feed themselves. Besides all this, the article was well planned out and argued, maybe try use footnotes next time.

Oh, please comment on my works as well.

on May. 27 2010 at 11:03 pm
HeraclitusDRM SILVER, Sewell, New Jersey
8 articles 0 photos 31 comments

Favorite Quote:
"For a man to conquer himself is the first and noblest of all victories." -Plato

I actually felt his website placement was refreshing: in the middle of the article instead at the bottom where they (the references) are ignored. 

on May. 10 2010 at 6:07 pm
in my history class we are learning about sweatshops and how terrible they are.  we even looked at Nike's responses to articles like this one and they had nothing intelligent to say (like above).  Don't support companies who treat their workers unfairly.  Google: Fair trade products, and buy your products there to help fight unfair, big-money businesses!

on Mar. 22 2010 at 6:03 pm
Someone_Who_Is_Loved GOLD, Mount Forest, Other
10 articles 0 photos 82 comments

Favorite Quote:
This quote is one I made up.....
"You can't climb a mountian without a harness." It means that you can't go where you want to get in life without the help of your friends or family.

You added to many wbsites. It kept me confused. Other than that I agree with you.

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