Sweatshops & plantations
Across the developing world, hundreds of free trade zones have been created. Known as export processing zones (EPZs), they are industrial areas where, typically, factory owners pay no tax, the minimum wage is suspended and safety is neglected. Twelve-hour shifts are the norm and trade unions are often illegal.
In many factories, people's health is put in jeopardy on a daily basis; their wages are low, working days are long, living conditions cramped and women are particularly vulnerable to violence and sexual harassment. There is little job security, and no medical services or maternity leave.
Employment opportunities within EPZs are seen as a way out by many in extreme poverty. However, many remain poor even after they have secured employment.
Workers experience terms and conditions of work that are discriminatory, exploitative and oppressive. They face sexual harassment and physical abuse, job insecurity, abuses around pay and working hours. They are forced to work in unsafe conditions and face discrimination because of their gender, where over 80% of EPZ workers are women.
War on Want does not believe that boycotts of companies involved in this practice is the answer - workers who desperately need an income will lose their livelihoods. Instead, War on Want works with the following partners to improve working conditions and worker rights.