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International Labor: A Crucial Social Issue and WRAP’s Impact

By: Iman Naieem
Feb 22

The workplace has always been an environment of great interest to me. As a recent graduate of George Mason University, studying industrial organizational psychology, I have been exposed to dissecting human behavior within the workplace. Through my academic courses, research, and work experience, I began to develop an interest in employment and labor law. This brings me to my interest in WRAP, which utilizes an exciting approach to comparative international labor law. Through emphasizing its 12 principles, the organization ensures that apparel factories around the globe are adhering to the local labor laws within each respective country. From what I have learned thus far, it is imperative to understand that each nation has a different set of labor laws. For example, the minimum working age in China is 16 years of age while in India, the legal minimum age is 14.

Through my time here at WRAP, I have an even greater understanding of the importance of following strict guidelines within an industrial work setting. I am finally able to see the reinforcement and compliance of the law be put into action. For example, it is required for facilities to have outward opening emergency doors. Interestingly, inward opening emergency doors serve as a significant non-compliance and must be corrected for an audit to be approved. Also, all factories that are WRAP certified must provide a rest day on the seventh day. It is a requirement that workers do not work more than six consecutive days. This may seem like a minor detail in the workplace, but if not complied with, there can be devastating effects. This provided me with the insight that every little bit of the workplace matters to ensure employee satisfaction, comfort, and safety, in this case.

There has been public and media outcry within the past couple decades on sweatshops within foreign countries in Asia and Central America mainly run by well-known brands such as Nike and Apple threatening the safety of international workers. The scandals have been centered around numerous global labor issues such as child labor, poor working conditions, forced labor, hours of work, low wages, harassment, abuse, and discrimination. This led to protests and demonstrations around the world urging large companies to implement action plans to comply with local labor laws while also urging consumers to stop supporting these companies. Unfortunately, this abuse of power is a lot more common and mainstream than many consumers are aware of.

This brings me to my final point about why organizations such as WRAP are so essential and necessary. WRAP uses its platform to educate retailers and factories around the world about how to conduct safe, lawful, and humane manufacturing to avoid these legal issues. It is refreshing to see that non-profit organizations such as WRAP are working with facilities around the globe to ensure workers’ rights and protection. This also provides a peace of mind to consumers such as me to know that more and more companies that I regularly purchase products from such as Walmart, H&M, and Costco are becoming engaged in social responsibility and are partnering with monitoring firms to conduct audits making sure that they are complying with the local labor laws in each respective country. WRAP is working towards a tremendous social cause, and I am happy to be a part of it.

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