Corruption at Gap Inc.

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Gap Inc. was founded in 1969 by Donald and Doris Fisher in San Francisco, California, with a single store and a handful of employees. Today, they're one of the world's largest specialty retailers with three of the most recognized and respected brands in the apparel industry - Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy. Gap Inc. has more than 153,000 employees supporting over 4,200 stores in more than 3,100 locations in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Japan and Germany. Their 2004 Sales were well over $15 billion, bringing in a net income of $1.03 billion, a 115.7% income growth from previous year.

Gap Inc contracts factories in 64 Countries, allegedly also making clothes within the US . And by "Made in the USA," they mean, "Made in the indigenous countries that, out of desperation, joined the United States in hopes of gaining more stable government regulations, yet remain excluded from basic employment rights and minimum wage laws." The "guest workers" from countries like Saipan, who joined the United States in 1975 to be citizens of the "land of the free," commit themselves to conditions that are simply shameful to basic human rights. Once committed, workers who toil for 12 hours daily behind barbed-wire fences, eat infested food, sleep on cots in dormitories that they are forced to pay more "fees" for, and work "off the clock" hours that they aren't paid for, can't escape from the madness, unless they can pay a mandatory $10 thousand dollar fee for this "privilege." Despite over 1,000 citations over a mere 5 years in Saipan, GAP remains stern on their refusal to pay a settlement with exploited workers. One worker was quoted: "Before 1997, we called for the strike because we were forced to work overtime with no opportunity to take a holiday, we wanted to go home for the holiday. But now we have so many holidays, and we have no money to go home. There is nothing in balance… I have no question why people commit suicide."

Of course, not all of the factories that GAP contracts could possibly conduct themselves like that, right? They have model factories like the Shin Won factory in Guatemala, acclaimed by industry reps and retailers, as well as winning several exporting awards in recent years. From afar, Shin Won is just an average factory that employs simple people to make clothing. Under the microscope, Shin Won is a factory that employs underprivileged people for roughly $3.60 daily and armed guards to keep them in line. Complaints of physical/sexual harassment aren't uncommon, yet no supervisor or guard has been found guilty or disciplined for their actions. The majority of Shin Won workers live below the poverty line, in iron shacks without indoor plumbing, running water or electricity.

One of the leading contractors for GAP Inc., Par Garment Co. Ltd, knows all too well about the sweatshop market. Established in 1987, Par Garment Co. Ltd began with a capital of 14 million baht and over 800 employees. Presently, Par Garment's property alone is valued at over 288 million baht ($8.2 Million USD) , yet in 2002, they only employed a mere 149 workers. Obviously the clothing isn't making itself, so how would the Par Garment Co.'s net worth increase by twenty fold? By subcontracting orders to sweatshops in smaller undisclosed provinces after the Bangkok government cracked down on the company for refusal to pay bank loans and for victimizing the poor workers of their Bangkok-based factory. On December 18, 2002, Mr. A-CEO of Par Garment Co. Ltd- fled Bangkok without paying the workers their salary or the mandatory overtime (a total of 5 additional hours daily), while taking everything from inside the factory so the bank couldn't liquidate it . To this day, The Ministry of Labor is still targeting Mr. A for the 10 months salary he stole from the citizens of Bangkok he employed.

Out of the 334 factories that GAP contracts, 100+ of them scored a 2: "Needs Improvement", or a 1: "Immediate attention required" . On...
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