Wal-Mart Stores said today that it would begin an investigation into labor conditions at a Chinese factory that supplies Wal-Mart with Christmas ornaments, after the National Labor Committee released a report [pdf] asserting that Chinese teenagers at the factory worked for less than the legal minimum wage.

The ornaments in question come from the Guangzhou Huangya Gift Company, one of the largest Christmas ornament factories in China, which has 8,000 employees and is a supplier to a number of American and European companies.

The National Labor Committee — citing interviews, wage records and cellphone pictures smuggled out by teenage workers — said that the employees were being paid at less than Guangzhou’s legal minimum of 55 cents per hour and are being forced to work excessive amounts of overtime. Workers were paid by a piecemeal basis, according to the committee, with some earning as little as 26 cents per hour. The wage records, which were from a 10-day period from June 21 to 30 of this year, show a median wage of 49 cents per hour. By law, the employees should have been earning a median of 68 cents per hour because of overtime regulations.

Twenty-six cents an hour?? How hard is it to pay people a mere 55 cents, without even thinking about what an American worker would be paid to manufacture the same goods. Of course, WalMart is only looking into things (or saying that they will) because of the report done by the National Labor Committee. This is the latest piece of evidence in WalMart's horrendous track record of treating their employees like shit or condoning the practice by their suppliers. For WalMart, they will stoop to any low for a low price. So please, if you are thinking about shopping there, remember where those ornaments for your tree are coming, and ask yourself if you endorse that type of labor, whether it be in Tennessee or Guangzhou.

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