African dream turns sour for orphan army

Posted: 2009/08/03 in 新聞與政治

年興紡織這一次被爆料毒害村民新聞

其實我個人認為一半一半
因為
我在那邊工作三年
多少瞭解一點真實性的事實

記得當初安裝攝影機裝到差點累死的時候
正是員工經常偷漿染用的廢料桶
廢料桶其實很毒
但是塑膠或是鐵製桶再當地來說是很珍貴的材料
也非常實用
所以他們經常偷、買、或是透過關係運輸到廠外去

我在想那些偷桶子又中毒村民
是不是這一次新聞報導的部份人呢?
若是的話就非常可惡了,您覺得呢?

至於廢水問題
那邊設有標準廢水排放流程
或許
某些地方排放的管線破損導致廢料外洩
紡織廠開廠到今也有六年了
成衣廠更超過十年
這幾年幾乎也沒聽過附近村民抗議的聲音

我只能說樹大招風
或是其他我沒看見的原因
靜待gap公司調查還原真相吧

African dream turns sour for orphan army

Maseru


Dan McDougall in Maseru, Lesotho

Nothing grows here in the shadows. There is only desolation in the tired soil
at Paballo Marumo’s cracked and filthy feet. Her shoes, the thin plastic
sandals worn by children across the townships of southern Africa, are gone.
“Stolen!” she tells me in her language, Sesotho. At eight years old she sits
hopelessly at the bottom of the rubbish dump hierarchy.

“Gap! Gap! Gap!” comes the sudden cry from the 12-year-old leader of a
destitute army of rag pickers patrolling the vast waste dump before us.

Paballo is the quickest off her feet, darting towards a trailer overflowing
with the discarded remnants of Lesotho’s garment industry. In the twilight I
can make out her tiny frame as she runs between burning pillars of denim and
cotton.

When they reach the trucks, the youngsters plough headlong into the refuse as
it pours from heavy loaders. With stern concentration they fight for scraps,
sifting through filthy piles of garment industry waste and sweeping it into
sacks.

Thousands of Gap and Levi’s labels, buttons and studs for stonewashed jeans
and huge quantities of heavily dyed cotton and denim pile down over their
heads, burying them up to their waists.

Gap’s decision to develop the production of jeans and T-shirts in Lesotho had
heralded an era of opportunity for one of the world’s poorest nations but a
Sunday Times investigation has exposed an unforeseen consequence of that
commitment – the dumping of tons of waste, much of it dangerous, at
unsecured municipal sites.

Over the past 12 months the child rag pickers have been attracted to garment
dumps by the denim and plastic thrown away by a Taiwanese supplier whose
clients include both Gap and Levi Strauss.

Such is the ubiquity of denim and cotton waste in Lesotho that garment refuse
has replaced charcoal as cooking fuel. Alarmingly, for the two San
Francisco-based firms, the waste dumped by their suppliers Nien Hsing and
Formosa Textile – both part of the Nien Hsing Fashion Group – includes
harmful chemicals, needles and razors.

Each day it is painstakingly picked over by children and mothers with ailing
infants strapped to their backs in a community ravaged by HIV. Not only
that, but Nien Hsing is leaking chemical effluent into a river from which
cooking water is drawn.

Lesotho, largely isolated from the rest of the world as a landlocked kingdom
surrounded by South Africa, has relied heavily on its garment industry to
stave off economic collapse. Fuelled by demand in the West for cheap
clothing, more than 50 Taiwanese-owned factories have grown up, shipping
£500m of jeans, T-shirts and other items to British and American stores last
year alone. In recent years the firms have prompted a wave of migration to
Maseru from drought-hit rural areas. Today they provide about 40,000 textile
jobs, 80% of them held by women.

Bono, the U2 singer, visited three years ago to boost Gap’s Product Red range,
from which profits are ploughed into a fund set up by the star to combat
diseases such as Aids. But despite the good intentions, the expansion of the
industry has seen a sharp increase in unsecured waste. In trawls through the
Ha Tsotsane and Ha Tikoe dumps in Maseru, The Sunday Times uncovered sacks
bearing the names of several potentially harmful chemicals. Among these were
sodium hydroxide, better known as caustic soda, which is used in the
manufacture of textiles and can cause chemical burns; and calcium
hypochlorite, a cleaning and bleaching agent which has been linked to lung
problems, particularly in children.

The sacks were identified as belonging to Nien Hsing/ Formosa Textile Ltd, a
supplier of both Levi’s and Gap denim.

The children of the dumps begin their day by hauling such sacks to “work” and
using them to collect scraps of cloth.

Waste spilling from trucks includes countless pumice stones for stonewashed
jeans, Gap zips and paperwork showing Gap orders to suppliers.

At regular intervals the workers dumping the refuse set fire to it. The
burning is particularly intense when heavily treated and dyed cotton and
denim and polyurethane bags are set alight. Many children living and working
around the Ha Tsotsane site are evidently suffering from respiratory
problems and weeping eyes. Others speak of skin complaints.

Thabiso Liaho, 11, and her sister Motselisi, 8, described a miserable routine
that revolves around waiting for the trucks to arrive.

“Our father is gone. He died of Aids,” Thabiso said. “So we collect denim and
plastic bags from the factories to sell to our neighbours. They burn the
denim instead of firewood but when we use it there is thick black smoke and
a horrible smell.”

Thabiso knows the hazards posed by chemicals but presses on regardless. “We
itch all day and some of the sacks used to dispose the chemicals have powder
that makes our hands and arms burn,” she added.

“One girl rubbed it in her eyes last month and started screaming. Sometimes we
get rashes.

“The hardest thing for me is the burning. We work two dumps and they are
always on fire because there is so much waste. At night we cough up black
mucus and my sister wheezes in her sleep.”

The Sunday Times also found children of five handling tools such as needles,
rusted and broken knives, fabric cutters and razors, all of which came in
consignments from Nien Hsing.

Environmental campaigners in Lesotho are dismayed. “The world needs to know
that some of the poorest people are being exploited and their environment
destroyed for western firms,” said Jon Bumasaka of the Lesotho Environmental
Justice Advocacy Centre.

“These firms tell the world they are helping Africa but look around you – look
at the children picking through dangerous waste in the dumps. Is this Bono’s
African dream for Gap? Or is it a hell for the poor people who have to live
next to these factories?”

The dumps are not the only environmental problem facing Gap and Levi’s in
Maseru. On the other side of a road leading from the Ha Tsotsane tip to the
city centre, the rag pickers’ mothers and aunts emerge from hovels to draw
foul-smelling cooking water from the Caledon River.

The river, like many tributaries across the city, is stained deep blue by
effluent from the garment industry. But after a long day at the dumps the
children bathe in it regardless.

Some of the effluent comes from a factory operated by Nien Hsing and Formosa
Textile. The waste spills into water used by people every day. The situation
is particularly bad around the factories run by Nien Hsing and Chinese
Garment Manufacturers, which supplied Gap until 18 months ago when the
retailer severed its ties because of “serious concerns”.

The streams around Nien Hsing’s site are known among local children as “Blue
River”.

“The water has been this colour for as long as I can remember,” said Thabiso,
in the one-room shack she shares with four younger siblings near the Ha
Tikoe dump. Strapped to her back was the youngest, Leno-hang. Their mother
is in hospital with Aids, a national disaster in a country with an HIV
infection rate of 30%.

Around the Nien Hsing factories, sick women say the nearest “untainted” water
is more than a mile away, an impossible distance for them to walk.

According to an environmental charter drawn up by Gap Inc, which has 3,149
stores worldwide and turned over $14.5 billion last year, the factories that
supply it must have an environmental management system and an environmental
emergency plan, including procedures to notify the authorities of an
accidental discharge.

Tseliso Tsoeu, an environmental expert from Lesotho’s council of
nongovernmental organisations, said the law was being broken by the foreign
garment industry: “Our laws state that no person shall discharge any
poisonous, toxic or chemical substance into our waters. So why is the
government allowing our people to bathe in bright blue water stained with
effluent and dyes? “ The Chinese and Taiwanese have come here and have
basically done what they wanted. They make enormous profits from employing
black Africans on behalf of respectable western companies who advertise the
highest standards of production but in reality don’t really know what is
going on here.”

In a statement yesterday, Dan Henkle, Gap’s senior vice-president of global
responsibility, said the company had ordered an investigation as soon as it
learnt of the allegations. It had placed Nien Hsing “on immediate notice
until our investigation is complete and all issues are adequately
addressed”, he said.

Gap accounted for 5% of Nien Hsing production. While an inspection in May had
found no significant violations, its waste water was now deemed
“unacceptable”.

Henkle added: “We will continue to act swiftly, decisively and thoughtfully in
doing everything possible to protect the workers at the factories that make
our products and the communities in which they live and work.”

Levi Strauss, which also sent an investigator to Lesotho, said it was
“disturbed to see the local water is polluted”. A spokesman added, “It is
clear the municipal landfill has not been secured”, and promised to protect
the community and children.

It is a world away from the aims set out by Bono, whose visit to Lesotho in
2006 is still being talked about in the factories. The workers and their
families recall how the U2 singer, sporting dark glasses imprinted with the
word Red, walked among them, stroking children’s foreheads and cracking
jokes.

At that year’s Davos economic forum in the Swiss Alps, he had persuaded some
of the world’s most sought-after brands, including Armani, Apple and
American Express, to develop special products under the Red umbrella.

The concept was simple: half the profits from Red-branded goods launched by
him would go to the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. He
was visiting southern Africa to unveil the next high-profile recruit to the
cause: Gap Inc.

For Bono and Gap it was the perfect match. In Lesotho, one of the Aids
capitals of the world, Gap had the factories and the local know-how to
realise the rock star’s vision – an African factory making branded clothing
for Product Red to be marketed from Cape Town to Tokyo.

As Bono toured Precious Garments, the firm slated to make clothes for Gap’s
Product Red Range, he declared: “This is the face of transformation.” It was
hoped that Product Red, in common with other brands made in Maseru, would
help to liberate local people from poverty.

However, while Precious Garments continues to supply Gap, Red T-shirts are no
longer made there. A spokesman said he was deeply concerned about the
allegations and no Red clothing would be produced in Lesotho until they were
resolved.

Although the garment industry has proved an undoubted financial lifeline to
many, not all workers are well treated.

At the Nien Hsing factory, where Taiwanese managers oversee production of Gap
jeans, a 26-year-old woman named Meluwan said she worked up to 200 hours a
month for 30p an hour to support a family of seven.

“I am insulted on a daily basis,” she said. “The Taiwanese call me koko,
mentally retarded. They also call me kaffir. It makes me so sad. I don’t
know why they call me this.”

Other women accused supervisors of insulting them when they were late with
orders.

A spokesman for Nien Hsing said the company was acting on the pollution
allegations. “The blue water escaping into local rivers is something we are
urgently looking at,” he said. “We are looking into claims that children are
picking through our refuse. The first we knew about the child rag pickers
was when Gap contacted us this week.” He refused to comment on the claims of
abuse.

At the Ha Tikoe dump, Thabiso Liaho offered shelter from a bitter whistling
wind in a home propped up by cardboard. “We have to get by looking after
each other,” she said.

“The smoke from the dump fills our shack. We all have weeping eyes and running
noses and itch after we work there looking for things to sell. The garment
trucks come day and night. When we fetch water in the morning it is blue.”
As I looked out towards the tip, the call went up again and the children ran
towards the trucks.

Gap vows

Gap will conduct a thorough environmental assessment in Lesotho in partnership
with an independent environmental organisation.

It will work with factory management to improve training and knowledge around
waste handling/disposal.

It will convene a supplier summit in Lesotho to update policies, procedures
and expectations.

While we’re proud of the progress we’ve made to date, we also
understand that conditions are not perfect and that there is still a great
deal more to be done to improve both environmental and factory working
conditions in developing regions like Lesotho – Glenn Murphy,
chairman and chief executive, Gap Inc

——————————————————

Gap factory danger to African children

Maseru_596605a.jpg

A
factory that makes jeans for Gap and Levi Strauss is illegally dumping
chemical waste in a river and two unsecured tips where it poses a
hazard to children.

The scandal was uncovered by a
Sunday Times investigation into pollution caused by a plant in Lesotho,
southern Africa, which supplies denim to the two companies. Dark blue
effluent from the factory of Nien Hsing, a Taiwanese firm, was pouring
into a river from which people draw water for cooking and bathing.

The
firm was also dumping needles, razors and harmful chemicals such as
caustic soda at municipal dumps that have attracted child rag-pickers
as young as five in search of cloth fragments to sell for fuel.

Many of the children, who work for up to 10 hours a day, complain of breathing difficulties, weeping eyes and rashes.

Yesterday
Gap and Levi Strauss said they had ordered immediate investigations.
Gap, which has a public image of environmental awareness, put the
factory “on notice” to improve. Levi Strauss said it was “disturbed” to
see that water was being polluted.

Gap has said it
will conduct a thorough environmental qssessment in Lesotho in
partnership withan independent environmental organisation and work with
factory management to improve training and knowledge around waste
handling and disposal. It will also convene a meeting of suppliers in
Lesotho to update policies, procedures and expectations.

"While
we’re very proud of the progress we’ve made to date, we also understand
that conditions are not perfect and that there is still a great deal
more to be done to improve both environmental and factory working
conditions in developing regions like Lesotho," said Glenn Murphy,
chairman and chief executive of Gap Inc.

——————————————-

賴索托廠僱童工、倒廢棄物 年興否認

NOWnews
更新日期:2009/08/03 18:55
財經中心/綜合報導

外電指台灣紡織廠年興紡織在賴索托非法傾倒化學廢棄物、針頭、刀片及僱用童工事等。年興表示,公司均依賴國政府指定的清潔公司處理垃圾,且針頭、刀片均收集後統一處理。

年興表示公司於賴索托投資近20年,營業活動均遵守當地法令規定,從未僱用童工,廢棄物及圾垃處理係由當地政府認可之清潔公司清運,並運至政府指定之圾垃場,並無報導所載非法傾倒情形。

報導指控年興在兩個垃圾場傾倒針頭、刀片和有害化學品,前述垃圾場吸引兒童前往撿拾廢布料出售。報導還說,許多兒童每天工作10小時,他們抱怨發生不適,包括呼吸困難,流淚和皮膚發疹。

年興紡織發言人蔡樹軒指出,紡織廠在生產過程中的縫紉機若有針頭、刀片等斷針時,均統一收集後處理,並未隨意亂拋棄;而且當地有50家台商都被指定傾倒垃圾在固定垃圾場,因此到底是哪一家台商所為,實在很難辨認。蔡樹軒強調,年興在當地未雇用童工。

引用資料

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article6736113.ece

http://timesmobile.mobi/ms/p/times/op/s-kydDxJGJ7De3RtcOrYA_w/view.m?id=64641&tid=3019&cat=Search

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