The exploitation of workers in the footwear industry is well documented yet receives little attention from the general shoe buying public. Most of us remain oblivious to the sweatshop conditions using child labour and minimum wages despite campaigns to highlight the poor and often inhumane conditions that exist. Many critics counter without the footwear companies in developing countries there would be no work and greater poverty. Research seems to support among the politically aware there is a significant number of consumers want reassurance that they are not contributing to exploitation of workers and are prepared to seek out shoes made in socially responsible factories.
‘No Sweat’ sneakers are made in a 100% unionized footwear factory and these are beginning to attract the attention of the fashionista.
‘No Sweat’ sneakers are made in Jakarta, Indonesia and provide their workers with health benefits, rice allowances and wages above minimum wage. In Indonesia, “No Sweat” guarantee their workforce earn at least $90 a month which is 20 per cent more than the minimum wage for the region, plus other benefits such as full medical coverage, Ramadan and rice allowance. Black canvas, rubber-soled sneakers that look like low-rise Converse Chuck Taylors, minus the logo, retail at approximately at $35 per pair. Co-founder and chief executive of No Sweat Apparel , Adam Neiman believes shoe-industry giants like Nike can still make reasonable profits even as they do more to promote humane, fair working conditions. Most brand leaders counter they are in the process of effectively monitoring their off shore factories and are aware of the need to issue more information to the public about how their products are made. However, this has not happened yet but to be fair, big companies are trying to improve the working conditions for the hundreds of thousands of manufacturing workers.
Nike has faced scrutiny for its labour practices since the early 1990s. The attention led eventually to the company's participation in a global factory-monitoring program through the nonprofit Fair Labor Association , an industry-supported labour standards group. Nike is among more than a dozen companies that help pay for the association to visit hundreds of factories around the world. Some factory surveys are published on the Fair Labor Association web site. Now conscientious shoe wearers can truck out in cool sneakers without stepping on the toes of the workers who make them. How cool is that? No Sweat Apparel is a privately owned company which last year sold $150,000 worth of T-shirts, jeans and other clothing made by union workers in developing countries.