The truth is like all workers those in the shoe industry have plenty to worry about. For example, a study done in the US by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that shoe workers here found an excess of lung cancer, bronchitis and emphysema.
As the shoe industry moved overseas working conditions were documented as from awful to horrendous. A Russian study for example found "...poor working factors of present-day industry to include high intensity of labour, monotonicity, forced posture, constant wide-range noise, fumes of organic solvents, dust of organic origin, etc." In addition, "There were prevalent acute respiratory diseases, influenza, osteomuscular and connective tissue, hypertensive and ENT diseases in the pattern of mortality with temporary disability. Comprehensive medical examinations revealed high incidence of ENT diseases due to exposure to chemical agents and organic dust."
In Vietnam Corporation Watch reports:
In an inspection report that was prepared in January for the company's internal use only, Ernst & Young wrote that workers at the factory near Ho Chi Minh City were exposed to carcinogens that exceeded local legal standards by 177 times in parts of the plant and that 77 percent of the employees suffered from respiratory problems.
The report also said that employees at the site, which is owned and operated by a Korean subcontractor, were forced to work 65 hours a week, far more than Vietnamese law allows, for $10 a week.
Anyway, I say good luck to these French workers. Maybe they ought to threaten to hold the bosses captive at their plant while they work.
The following comes to us from the Tocqueville Connection.
FRENCH WORKERS LOCK UP MANAGERS OVER RELOCATION PLANS
SAINT HIPPOLYTE DU FORT, France, May 30, 2007 - Shoe factory workers in southern France took four senior managers captive on Wednesday after the firm announced plans to relocate its production to Tunisia.
Managers of Jallatte, Europe's leading manufacturer of safety shoes, told workers early Wednesday they intended to cut 285 out of 336 jobs across its four French production sites.
Furious at the news, union leaders and workers burst into a meeting in the southern town of Saint Hippolyte du Fort, attended by four top executives, including Giovanni Falco, managing director of the company's Italian owner JAL.
The managers were held captive for several hours, until Falco agreed to push back by three weeks a June 6 meeting intended to kickstart the restructuring plan.
Falco was to take part in a round table meeting later with workers and local officials to consider ways of keeping manufacturing jobs in the Gard region, which has been hit by a string of high-profile relocations in recent months, including the stocking maker Well.
The protesting workers had called on President Nicolas Sarkozy to fulfil a campaign pledge to stop French manufacturing from shifting abroad.
Founded in 1947 as a rubber boot manufacturer, Jallatte now produces 1.2 million pairs of safety shoes a year.