scouring the globe to give shoppers an $8.63 polo shirt
It requires the sale of millions of dollars of shirts and shorts at a lower price, which can be felt in a remote Chinese industrial town, a port in Bangladesh and here in Honduras, under the corrugated metal roof of the cosmic garment factory.
Isabel Reyes, who has worked in this factory for 11 years, sells fabrics through sewing machines 10 hours a day, trying to reach the latest quota of scribbles on the blackboard.
She is now sewing sleeves on her shirt at the rate of 1,200 pieces per day.
Two shirts a minute, one every 15 seconds.
\"There will always be an acceleration,\" said Reyes, 37 . \" He can\'t lift the pot or hold her little girl
She eats inflammatory every few hours.
\"The goal is always increasing, but the salary remains the same.
\"Reyes, who earns $35 a week, said her boss blamed long and low wages on big American companies. S.
The company and their needs
The largest company, Mart, is the main customer of the universe factory.
Reyes is skeptical.
She asked, why would a company in the richest country in the world care about a few pennies on a pair of shorts? Answer: wo
Wal-Mart built its own empire for bargains.
The company\'s scale and obsession with shaving costs have made it a global economic force.
Its decisions affect wages, working conditions and production practices-
Even the price of a yard cowboy. -
All over the world.
The headquarters is located in Bentonville, Ark.
The company has built a network of 10,000 suppliers and is constantly putting pressure on them to lower prices.
At the same time, Wal-Mart-
Wal-Mart buyers are constantly looking for stationary products around the world.
Cheaper sources of supply.
Competition sets suppliers against suppliers, countries and countries.
\"They control so much retail, they can get someone to do business if they want, and they can get someone out of business,\" said Pat Dana, former chief executive of Pat Mills Corp.
Greensboro, New JerseyC.
One of the few Americans who survived. S.
In Honduras, pressure keeps factory managers tense and always looks for ways to cut expenses without violating labor laws or Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart\'s own contractor rules require \"reasonable employee hours \".
\"I think we have reached the limit,\" said Shen Yukang, manager of dahansol Textile Co. , Ltd.
Sewing factory in the suburbs of San Pedro Sura.
The factory employs 1,600 workers, most of whom are young women. Wal-
Wal-Mart is its biggest customer.
The brightly lit factory was packed with buzzing machines, piles of clothing parts and fastmoving hands.
On a production line, with the appearance of Bobby Brooks polo shirt, the chips of the deep blue fabric began to take shape, each with Wal-Mart
$8 supermarket price tag. 63. Kang said Wal-
Matt pays Hansol $3 a shirt-
A little less than last year.
Asked what he would do if the retailer asked for a lower price and Kang became quiet.
\"We have to find something,\" he concluded . \".
\"To be honest, I don\'t know what this is.
In order to reduce the cost, the Honduras factory reduced the workers and improved the efficiency.
Henry Franson, director of the Association of garment manufacturers in Honduras, said that the number of garments produced in the country was the same as three years ago, but the number of workers decreased by 20%.
Nearly 200 export factories.
He said with a smile: \"Our income is getting less and our output is getting higher and higher . \"Mart philosophy.
\"It\'s a tough drug for a developing country.
In this country with a population of 6 million, the clothing industry is one of the few sources of unskilled human face work.
Many of these jobs depend on Wal-Mart. Mart.
\"If something happens in this industry, you may see a government collapse,\" said Raja Rajan, factory manager active in the apparel association.
In Rajan\'s view, Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart is so important to the stability of Honduras that leaders should strengthen relations with the company as they do with foreign countries.
He has lobbied the government to send high-
Wal-Mart\'s special envoy
Wal-Mart\'s Arkansas headquarters, Bangladesh and other countries are already doing it.
Even with such efforts, Rajan is worried that sewing will be transferred to China and other low-income countries.
Cost countries can\'t stop, they can only slow down.
Chuck Wilburn expects his 1,300 employees to be one of the casualties.
He manages a factory in the suburbs of San Pedro Sura to produce clothing for Wal-Mart
And other retailers
Wilborn\'s employer, Oxford industrial, in Atlanta, has 44 factories in the southern United States.
Over the past 15 years, it has shut them down and moved the work to a cheaper place.
This is how Wilburn came to Honduras.
He is proud of his clean and modern factory.
\"It\'s better than I did in South Carolina,\" Wilburn said . \".
Still, it is difficult for him to make a profit.
Two years ago he fired 500 employees.
It\'s hard to see Wal-Mart even here. Mart\'s prices.
Wilborn expects the University of Oxford to close his factory in the next few years and move to another country, where basic cotton-padded clothes like Walmart
Matt\'s old glory trousers can be produced less.
\"Our business is a lot of twill,\" he said . \"
* Waving the flagpole not long ago, Wal-Mart-
Wal-Mart has been trying to maintain jobs in American manufacturing. S. soil.
In 1985, founder Sam Walton launched his plan to \"take it home. \"Wal-
\"Wal-Mart believes American workers can make a difference,\" he told his supplier, proposing to pay 5% more for American workers. S. -made products.
In his 1992 memoir, made in America, Walton claimed that the project saved or created nearly 100,000 jobs by using the power of \"this giant enterprise as a force for change\"
\"But the late Walton
The rise of the global economy soon outweighed the hype.
The spread of the Internet and other technologies, and the United StatesS. -
By working to remove trade barriers, goods and capital flow more easily across borders.
In order to maintain the price advantage, Wal-Mart-
Globally, Matt, along with other retailers, quietly looks for the cheapest source of production.
In terms of clothing, the process begins with a solo.
From a refurbished warehouse near the company\'s headquarters.
In 2000, the world\'s largest clothing budget was estimated at $35 billion.
Clancy gives her buyers the task of \"adding one\" every year: for each item they handle, they either reduce costs or improve quality.
To prove this, she pulled a girl\'s shorts from the crowded office wall and pulled them.
\"This is a stupid little knit pull-
\"In short,\" said Clancy.
\"We improved the fabric, added some fashion and sold it for the same price as last year ---$5. 19.
\"Keeping low prices like this means that costs are reduced every step of the way.
Cransey and her buyers cut the number of brands, styles and color schemes.
This makes Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart consolidated its purchases of fabrics, accessories and threads and received substantial discounts from suppliers.
In the past, Clancy\'s buyers relied on Hong Kong companies and other intermediaries to find bargains overseas. This year, Wal-
To find the cheapest raw materials, manufacturers and shipping routes, Wal-Mart has set up its own global purchasing department.
Last year, for example, the company diverted the goods from a port in Hong Kong to the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, where the freight was lower.
When buying fabrics like denim and khaki cloth, Wal-Mart
Mart plans to approach three to five factories around the world and let them compete with each other.
Ken Eaton, head of global purchasing, said: \"We will put our global power on them . \" The department has 21 offices in 18 countries.
Eaton believes he can reduce costs by at least 20% by reducing middlemen and buying directly from foreign factories.
He feels a sense of urgency about his mission, in part because he believes that the company\'s \"Buy American\" focus is on catching up.
\"To be honest, it\'s a bit late for us to go to the party,\" he said . \".
\"There are a lot of companies that are direct-
Import and understand the global aspects of procurement for a long time.
\"As of 1995, Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart said imports accounted for no more than 6% of its products.
Today, consulting firm Retail Forward estimates that the company has between 50% and 60% of goods in the United States. S.
The shop is imported. Wal-
H. Wal-Mart chief executive. Lee Scott Jr.
In an interview, the trend reflected an unavoidable reality:S.
Consumers are not even willing to pay a little more for a \"Made in America\" label.
\"Customers will push this in the end,\" he said . \".
* Big Bangladesh-
Although Wal-Mart does not have a store in Bangladesh, it is the most powerful corporate citizen in Bangladesh.
This spring, the company responded quickly when it complained to the Bangladesh Export Promotion Agency about delays in the transportation of goods.
Officials at the southern port of Chittagong are accelerating efforts to reduce paperwork and modernize facilities.
With the opposition of the Labor leaders, port officials are also building a five-year plan.
Private managed berth container terminal.
The large crane has reduced the turnaround time of a ship from 6 days to less than 4 days.
No wonder Wal-Mart-
In a country where almost half of the population lives in poverty, Wal-Mart has such influence.
The company purchased 14% of $1.
9 billion pieces of clothing from Bangladesh to the United StatesS. last year. \"Wal-
\"Wal-Mart is our biggest customer, which is very important to me . \"
But, he added,
Wal-Mart prices have been falling-
This is the biggest threat to us.
The factory owner in Bangladesh said
Wal-Mart and other retailers have asked them to cut prices by 50% in recent years.
A clothing manufacturer described a visit to Wal-Mart
Show him Walmart buyers in Europe.
Artificial clothing that retails for $100 to $130.
The buyer asked the Bengali to produce counterfeits for more than a dozen dollars. He declined.
\"They said they want to cut prices, but we have to make a profit,\" complained another clothing manufacturer . \".
Hope to buy Wal-Mart
This year, He bargained from the supplier, ordered 600,000 wool jackets and managed to reduce the price by 20%.
Not good enough for Walmart. Mart.
\"They said they would place orders in Vietnam or China,\" he recalled . \".
Saeed Navi Hussein had hoped to avoid the nickeland-
As head of Beximco garment sector, Bangladesh\'s largest private company, Husain spent $0. 3 billion in 1995 building a computerized textile and garment manufacturing center in rice fields outside Dhaka
He has hired hot designers from Asia and Europe.
A few years later, he produced clothing for European retailers Diesel and Zara, and his lush \"manufacturing oasis\" has become a leader in the industry.
But the market has begun to change. Wal-
More for Mart
Fashionable clothes, Hussein\'s high
Terminal customers are nervous.
They urged him to cut costs like never before.
\"Unfortunately,\" Hussein said of Wal-Mart.
\"They created a model that brought the world into a storm. \"U. S.
In the 1980 s, retailers began to travel to Bangladesh.
They found a large number of poor young women willing to work from dawn to dusk, working a few pennies an hour.
Many factories lack ventilation and fire exits.
Labor activists estimated in the medium term
1990, as many as 50,000 Bangladeshi children are sewing clothing companies such as Wal-Mart
Walmart and Kmart
The protests prompted the government to crack down on child labor and led companies like Wal-Mart --
Suppliers are required to comply with labor laws and safety standards.
Former child labor Sheikh Nazma saw what Wal-Mart looked like.
Matt can help clean things up.
She works at a garment factory in Dhaka, where there is no clean drinking water and there are only a few dirty toilets for hundreds of employees.
After the boss refused to pay the salary for three months, the employee complained to Wal-Mart
Mate, the main customer of the factory. \"Wal-
Matt interfered. . .
\"The owner paid US wages and overtime and even paid bonuses to each worker,\" Nazma recalls . \" He later helped set up the Bangladesh Federation of Independent Garment workers unions.
But Nazma and others said
Wal-Mart\'s continuous efforts to reduce prices have undermined its good efforts.
According to Sayeeda Roxana Khan, former factory manager in Dhaka, in order to complete orders in a short period of time, the factory often forces employees to work overtime or for weeks without rest.
Auditors said that in order to cover up the practice, two sets of books were kept in some factories.
\"Workers suffer when entrepreneurs have to live by cutting corners,\" Khan said, who is now working at Verite, a factory audit of Levi Strauss and other Americans for Tommy HilfigerS. companies.
Khadija Akhter can prove this.
About $21 a month, three times the number of maids or cooksyear-
The old man works in a factory in Dhaka and carries out final checks on men\'s shirts and trousers.
Employees often start work at 8 in the morning, she said. m. to 3 a. m.
10 to 15 days in a row to meet large orders from Wal-MartMart.
A year later, she was exhausted and resigned.
Work hard but not so hard
All acceleration at the Bangladesh plant may not be enough to meet Wal-Mart\'s requirementsMart. A. Hasnat, Wal-
Wal-Mart\'s general manager in Bangladesh said the country\'s factories still need to be more efficient.
From his point of view, many people are poorly managed, old equipment and running too slowly.
\"I think they need to improve,\" he said . \"
\"When I entered a factory in China, they seemed to be very fast.
\"* There are 3,000 factories in China, Hunchback forward, 20-year-
Laoping Qiuxia used a sewing machine to steer a pair of green women\'s underwear.
Her fingers then rotated the panties 180 degrees and moved them back to her side, this time, the elastic band was neatly stitched to the edge.
Within a few seconds, she was working for the next pair.
This dress is part of 6,000.
Orders scheduled for shipment to Wal-Mart
Supermarket in Germany.
Nine hours a day, sometimes six days a week, Ping and other employees at the gladpiper garment factory in the southern Chinese city of Dongguan produce underwear, pajamas and children\'s wear.
Wal-Mart in southern China
Wal-Mart has found all the ingredients to keep its \"daily low price\" the lowest in the world.
Although labor costs here are higher than in Bangladesh, China offers other advantages: low
Cost of raw materials;
Modern factories, roads and ports;
Help government officials. Wal-
In China, the world\'s fastest corner, Wal-Mart has played an important role.
Growth in manufacturing.
Last year, the company exported $12 billion of products from China, up 20% from 2001.
The marriage of the world\'s largest and most efficient retailer to China\'s low-end retailer
According to Deloitte Tohmatsu, a consulting firm, the cost Factory is setting a new global \"cost standard\" for manufacturing products \".
This phenomenon is disturbing competitors around the world and worrying international labor activists.
They pointed out that the Chinese government is hostile to organized labor and lacks protection for workers. \"Wal-
Mart is indeed leading the way in lowering wages and working conditions, \"said Kent Huang, director of the UCLA Labor Center, who visited China twice last year.
\"Not only are they exporting Wal-Mart --
Name, company and identity of Wal-Mart.
They are also exporting this way of doing business. \"Wal-
Wal-Mart has more than 3,000 supplier factories in China, and the figure is expected to rise.
But that does not mean that Chinese workers are safe.
I used to make clothes in Hong Kong.
Simon Lee, managing director of the family, said it moved production to China in the 1980 s because the cost was much lowerowned firm.
Mainly young women. -
Pay $55 a month to stay in a clean but crowded dormitory with eight to one room.
But Li may soon cut jobs in Dongguan.
He plans to open a new factory in Guangxi, a remote part of western China, where labor, electricity, housing and taxes are cheaper.
\"The competition is very fierce. our biggest problem is the cost,\" Li said . \"
\"Many customers look at the cost first and then work.
So we are going to Guangxi.
Cleeland from Honduras reported that Iritani from Bangladesh and Marshall from China.
The Times staff writer Abigail Goldman and Hong Kong bureau researcher Huang Yuming contributed to the report.