Thursday, June 27, 2013
Is turn about fair play at sweatshops?
With all the discussion about various news stories that have been going on many people may not have noticed what is going on in China.
A factory owner is complaining about inhumanity. It's not because the factory workers are being abused though; it's because they're holding him hostage.
He says, "I think it's inhumane what is going on right now. I have been in this area for 10 years and created a lot of jobs and I would never have thought in my wildest imagination something like this would happen."
There appear to be conflicting views of what has been going on according to the following two articles. The first seems to indicate it is about the demand for a severance package; the second also mentions unpaid wages for two months.
I may not agree with these tactics but I'm not in any rush to shed any crocodile tears for this executive.
In the first article it says that this type of thing happened more often fifteen years ago but it still happens from time to time now. I hardly remember them reporting on this ever either fifteen years ago or recently.
Why hasn't this been reported more often if it is a semi-regular occurrence?
There hasn't been much reporting about the sweat shop conditions in the third world in the traditional press unless there is a major disaster like the recent large fires and building collapses but they report much more on this in some alternative outlets. The oppression of workers around the world has been standard operating procedure for a long time and it costs a lot of money and results in lower quality merchandise. This means that the savings for cheap merchandise hasn't actually been passed on to consumers at all; instead it has just been used to increase the profits for those that call the shots that lead to this oppression.
One of the things that they fail to mention is that when they save money by taking advantage of cheap labor abroad it comes with additional expenses, including shipping and distribution as well as the money they have to pay for armed guards to oppress the workers and protect the executives when they visit their factories. If they diverted all these bureaucratic expenses back to production and treated their workers better they could take advantage of factory direct savings and many other things to avoid passing the costs on to consumers and the quality would be better.
If consumers knew that a portion of the money they pay for their goods are being used to oppress the workers that build them and that the workers that provide actual value to the products were only receiving a minimal fraction of the money consumers pay would they approve?
If voters knew that the trade secrecy laws that are passed by there elected officials are being used to make it harder for most people to understand how the economic system works would they approve?
This is essentially what was happening thirty years ago before the globalization movement dramatically expanded along with a large number of mergers and acquisitions. I haven't been able to look into specific examples anymore than most other people but this seems to follow a common pattern except for the fact that they took matters into their own hands and it was actually reported. In this case it seems to have led to a settlement according to an article, U.S. exec Chip Starnes freed from China factory. The article states, "Its resolution offers further proof that, in China, taking the law into one's own hands may achieve the best results." Some sources seem to think that things have been resolved but problems with the system seem to continue to be overlooked. The reason this seems to have happened in the first place is that workers don't have any other alternatives that actually work. They supposedly have protections under the law and channels that they can go through to have their grievances addressed but in practice they don't work at all and the workers know it more than we do here in the US.
Most of us don't think that this is the appropriate way to go about things but when the appropriate way to go about things doesn't work then, at minimum this should be considered reasonable mitigating circumstances. Before he was released he managed to do an interview, U.S. executive does live TV interview from through the window of a Chinese factory where he's been held hostage by workers for FIVE days. this also appeared on CNBC; he didn't appear to be nearly as oppressed or subject to inhumane treatment as many of the other sweatshop workers that have had to live with this all their lives and for him it ended fairly quickly.
For what it's worth another report on this provides additional information, US boss held in China leaves plant after payout. This article is notable for a different reason related to reporting trends that might raise confusion. It was the link that I provided for the second article a couple of days ago but when I looked at it today the story had changed and since I had saved a copy I was able to locate another article to cite for it. This is far more common than most people realize although a more common problem is that many news stories are simply deleted. When citing some articles I have noticed that there are some that are more reliable than others but it is difficult to tell which is which.
Regardless of how this came out it seems to me that much more needs to be done to protect workers and consumers as well as the environment and to cut down on the bureaucratic expenses that are designed to benefit only those who control the system at the expense of the rest of us.
One of the most import things that needs to be done is to do away with corporate secrecy laws that enable them to cover up their human rights abuses.