The persistence of reports about child labor exploitation in the Nepalese carpet industry, particularly by adults who control their weaving wages, begs an account of how carpet-weaving labor is recruited, remunerated, and reproduced. A study of union and nonunion carpet weavers found that most young weavers were not victims of traditional forms of debt bondage and coercive control, but working conditions often led to high levels of indebtedness. Salary advances (peskii) allowed weavers to compensate for cash shortfalls and meet unusual expenses, but some weavers have been able to remain in control of this salary advance system. Remittances to families have also been associated with weaving wage exploitation, as well as subsidies to the weaver’s parental household. Recently, the collapse of the Nepalese carpet industry—in part due to persistent child labor reports—has meant that wages do not keep up with urban living costs, increasing weaving debt and undermining the ability to make remittances. Young Nepalese carpet weavers were victimized not so much by traditional labor practices as by the capricious cycles of global capitalism.

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