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Pakistan supplies around 70% of the world’s footballs, with an estimated 44,000 men and women stitchers involved in the production of 35 million footballs every year. The sports ball industry has been known for its use of child labor, and working conditions are less than ideal. In order to work towards the elimination of child labor, sport balls were the first non-food product to be certified by the International Fair Trade Labeling Association (FLO) in 2002. Since then, four producers in Pakistan and one in Thailand have achieved certification, ensuring that no child labor is involved in their production and that workers receive a living wage in a healthy work environment.
Fair Trade Sports Ball Producers
Talon Fair Trade Workers Welfare Society
Photo and profile provided by Talon
Talon Sports is a large-scale producer employing around 1200 factory workers and contract stitchers. Production is split 50/50 between sports clothing and sports balls - mainly footballs but also rugby balls, Basket balls and indoor and beach volley balls that are assembled at more than 50 stitching centers.
The objective of Fair trade in the sports ball industry is to ensure good working conditions for factory and stitching centre workers and to provide decent wages so that employees can send their children to school rather than out to work. In addition, the manufacturer's price includes a fair-trade premium, about 20% which is to be used for improvement of the socio-economic situation of the workers, their families and communities. Workers and management decide jointly on the use of the premium such as providing an after-school program or a community.
Although there is a government-set minimum wage for the sports ball industry in Pakistan, workers are often paid less and struggle to provide for their families. All Fair trade certified producers pay factory workers at least the minimum wage, and piece-work rates for stitchers are calculated so that the minimum wage can be earned within normal working hours.
Talon Sports pays its workers 50% more when they produce Fair Trade balls. Fair Trade buyers negotiate a contract price with football producers in the same way as conventional buyers, with the stipulation that the agreed price must be above the cost of production.
Fair Trade Sports, Inc. is the U.S. distributor of Fair Trade Sports Balls. This sports supplier, also a member of the Fair Trade Federation, provides several different designs of soccer balls, footballs, basketballs, volleyballs, rugby balls and apparel. The Sports balls are certified to be stitched by adult workers paid fair wages and ensured healthy working conditions. The apparel is sweatshop-free, and all after-tax profits are donated to children's charities such as the Boys & Girls Club and Room to Read.