Contrary to popular belief, the notion of workers’ rights was not forged solely in the dark days of the Industrial Revolution no matter that workers’ conditions were indeed bleak, being characterized by child labor, overwork, poor pay, and dangerous work environment. Instead, evidence of workers banding together and demanding better conditions exist from the Middle Ages, where events such as the Peasant’s Revolt of England were manifested as a collective expression of the desire for a better working life. There were early successes – a 73 years after the Industrial Revolution England passed child labor laws. We might laugh a little at the laws nowadays – children under 9 could no longer work but those aged 9 and up could work anywhere from 8 to 12 hours a day.
Fast forward to 1998, with the advent of the Internet and online retailers, the Department of International Development in the UK finally gave its official sanction and blessing to the formation of a new alliance Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI). Composed of companies, unions, and other organizations, the ETI’s purpose was to strive for the improvement of working conditions around the globe. Much of the attention was focused on clothes and shoes made in so-called ‘sweat shops’ in third world nations, sometimes exploiting child labor where laws didn’t exist to prohibit it.
For our readers who are interested in ethical shopping online, we present a very short selection of three clothing or shoe retailers, famous and also on the ETI list for being a responsible manufacturing and design firm.
1. Jabong – Indian fashion e-giant is a member of the ETI. They set a great example for being native to a growing economy that’s in a region of the world where poor labor laws do little to protect workers.
2. Gap Inc – American retailing giant Gap is well-known for their quirky, stylish commercials and for being a staple in young people’s wardrobes. Gap has been working hard to polish its image and has joined the ETI.
3. Primark Online – Irish retailing wonder famous for its low-priced but modern fashion has entered the responsible retailing world by being part of the ETI. For more information visit: http://primarkonline-shopping.blogspot.com/
(Photo Credit: thinkretail / Creative Commons)