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Sweat Shops


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Poll: Sweat Shops (12 member(s) have cast votes)

Are sweat shops good or bad?

  1. Mostly good (4 votes [33.33%])

    Percentage of vote: 33.33%

  2. Mostly bad (6 votes [50.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 50.00%

  3. Not Sure (2 votes [16.67%])

    Percentage of vote: 16.67%

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#1 bred

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Posted 18 March 2007 - 02:13 PM

What do you think of sweat shops?
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#2 The Wedge Effect

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Posted 18 March 2007 - 03:24 PM

Mostly bad. The employees get paid very little, work harsh, long hours in poorly ventilated conditions and are usually physically and verbally abused. Can't really think of any benefits except for the consumers. We get cheap stuff as a result.

#3 John

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Posted 18 March 2007 - 04:24 PM

Only good thing about them is the people working in them have a job.

Everything else about them is bad, and Jamie has pretty much summed up why.

#4 linds

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Posted 18 March 2007 - 04:48 PM

Ooooh, we did this in Sociology not that long ago.

There are always two sides to every story.

So these people are working in truly awful conditions. They work between 60 and 90 hours a week, and get paid 17 a month - and that's the lucky ones. The working conditions are appauling. Even though these factories are audited, with safety inspectors etc. paying visits, the owners still have notice of 20 days to prepare themselves for it. So they create false time sheets, they sort out any glitches.

They don't have trade unions - those who join are fired. It's mostly women who work in these factories, for companies like Primark or Tesco or Wal-Mart. Women are easier to exploit. Maternity leave is rare. Sexual harassment is common. Physical violence, regardless of gender, is also common.

You can see a lot more on this here.

However, you also have to look at it as these people don't really know any better. They need money. And while they will see that they way they're treated at work is pretty crap, they're not going to know any other way of working. These people are employed in sweat shops from a young age - it's what they're used to.

While to us the money people in sweat shops seems pretty crap, to them it makes a difference.

So I don't really know what I think to be honest.

#5 ad absurdum

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Posted 18 March 2007 - 08:11 PM

Employees not knowing anything better doesn't justify treating them badly in the slightest. It's not good for the societies at all, it's exploitations of the inexperience and desparation of poverty stricken areas.
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#6 linds

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Posted 18 March 2007 - 08:30 PM

No, I know that, but from their point of view. They could turn round and say, "No, I'm not working there, they're treating me badly." But at the end of the day, that's the only choice they have.

#7 smb

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Posted 18 March 2007 - 08:34 PM

Hmm, what are sweat shops?

#8 The Wedge Effect

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Posted 18 March 2007 - 08:46 PM

They're factories set up in third world countries hiring loads of employees on very low wages to make cheap tat for shops like tesco, primark and george (for asda)'s range of clothings, to save money on labour costs. Think I heard IKEA has a similar thing set up for their furnitures, but I hope not, as I'm sitting on a leather chair from IKEA, and I'd hate to think it was made by exploited third world kids.

#9 dondon

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Posted 18 March 2007 - 11:16 PM

IKEA I know about, a bit. They say they use kind of sweat shops in places but try to give them a fair wage and never employ child labour.

Anyway I think sweat shops are a good and a bad thing, its really case specific. For example, quite a large part of China's economy depends on sweat shop type work, so if it was abolished it would do a lot of damage. And whilst we may think that the amount people are paid to work there is nothing, quite a lot of the time its a lot more than they would be paid in most other jobs. And in another example I read a jurnal article which I wish I had the link to because it was really good (and in somewhere reliable) that in some foreign call centres in India the people are paid more than doctors. But theres always the issue of people being exploited and treated really badly, so I really think multi-national corporations should take more responsibility for this to make sure that their employees are treated well.

And as always I'm going to pick the inbetween option because it depends on the case.

#10 bred

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Posted 18 March 2007 - 11:34 PM

As I expected, most people seem to be voting 'mostly bad'. Western firms and the West in general has a moral obligation to monitor their factories to avoid oppressive and unsafe workplaces. If it wasn't for the cheap labour in foreign countries we wouldn't be able to have the wealth of inexpensive consumer goods that we have available to us. However, sweat shops are generally a good thing. Although workers in sweat shops are not paid nearly as much as the minimum wages of the USA or the UK (even taking into account purchasing power parity), Nike still manages to pay workers five times the Chinese minimum wage. Working conditions have been seen as more of a problem: nearly eight percent of Nike workers at nine Indonesian factories reported receiving unwanted sexual comments, over two percent said they had received unwanted sexual touching by their employers and thirty percent said they had been shouted or sworn at (National Centre for Policy Analysis). However, companies like Nike have provided countries like China and Indonesia with opportunities for many people of better lives that would not be available otherwise. Unfortunately, but importantly, without the factories of the Western corporations many of the workers would not be working under better conditions, earning less and perhaps be forced into prostitution. The United Nations Children's fund estimated that five thousand Nepalese children were forced into prostitution after the US banned carpet imports from Nepal. Many people hope that they will be able to work in 'sweat shop' in the future. Take a look at http://media.www.diamondbackonline.com/med...f-2755977.shtml - food for thought. Of course, if we weren't in the context of Capitalism prospects could arguably be different, but perhaps opening up that can of beans would broaden the subject matter of this thread too much.
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#11 Daniel Williamson

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 11:23 AM

Are you being serious?? what a stupid question to ask? how can any good come of sweat shops? children as young as our primary children are being forced to work for something silly like 3 pence a day when we the west are sitting here raking in the benefits, ooo cheap footballs.

#12 Plug in Baby

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 05:10 PM

I take it you didn't read the post above you.

I would have said sweat shops are generally bad but bred has enlightened me a bit on the 'other' side of the arguement. smile.gif
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#13 ermd

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 12:15 AM

QUOTE(bred @ Mar 18 2007, 11:34 PM) View Post
However, sweat shops are generally a good thing.


This, I sort of agree on actually (surprisingly!). Capitalism can be progressive in developing nations, to a certain degree.

QUOTE(bred @ Mar 18 2007, 11:34 PM) View Post
Although workers in sweat shops are not paid nearly as much as the minimum wages of the USA or the UK (even taking into account purchasing power parity), Nike still manages to pay workers five times the Chinese minimum wage.


The Chinese minimum wage is pretty poor though, I'd presume?

QUOTE(bred @ Mar 18 2007, 11:34 PM) View Post
Of course, if we weren't in the context of Capitalism prospects could arguably be different, but perhaps opening up that can of beans would broaden the subject matter of this thread too much.


Also agreed. I could modify my first point if we were broadening the discussion to that.

Edit: One thing about sweatshops, though, is that they generally produce unecessary consumer goods - if they were producing something which would then be bought an used in their own developing country, it would be a more progressive venture. However, we can't expect Nike to particularly care for developing the nations they exploit...quite the opposite.

#14 ad absurdum

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 07:25 PM

QUOTE(bred @ Mar 18 2007, 11:34 PM) View Post
As I expected, most people seem to be voting 'mostly bad'. Western firms and the West in general has a moral obligation to monitor their factories to avoid oppressive and unsafe workplaces. If it wasn't for the cheap labour in foreign countries we wouldn't be able to have the wealth of inexpensive consumer goods that we have available to us. However, sweat shops are generally a good thing. Although workers in sweat shops are not paid nearly as much as the minimum wages of the USA or the UK (even taking into account purchasing power parity), Nike still manages to pay workers five times the Chinese minimum wage...

I still don't see how the poor general working conditions of less prosperous nations justifies Western firms providing working conditions that are widely accepted as sub-par... Examples need to be set by Western firms, and I would sincerely hope that this goes past giving them more money than the other firms can afford to.
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#15 linds

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 07:35 PM

I don't know if this will make sense or not, or if this is even the right thing to say, but you have to think of it from their point of view. Forget the fact that you're from the Western world, and you're used to better working conditions. Look beyond what you are familiar with. Of course the conditions in which these people are working are crap. If you're used to health and safety guidlines here, and the minimum wage, the hours you can work then yes, the way sweat shop workers work are diabolical in comparisson.

But if you forget all of this. If you look at it as families who are starving and need all the money they can get. They are underpaid. They also have no qualifications. It's the equivilant of unskilled work here, which is also poorly paid and sometimes in pretty awful conditions. It's all about context.

I'm totally rambling and don't even know what I'm saying any more.

It's something to do with a sociological imagination.

#16 ad absurdum

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 08:35 PM

QUOTE(Lindsay @ Mar 20 2007, 07:35 PM) View Post
I don't know if this will make sense or not, or if this is even the right thing to say, but you have to think of it from their point of view. Forget the fact that you're from the Western world, and you're used to better working conditions. Look beyond what you are familiar with. Of course the conditions in which these people are working are crap. If you're used to health and safety guidlines here, and the minimum wage, the hours you can work then yes, the way sweat shop workers work are diabolical in comparisson.

But if you forget all of this. If you look at it as families who are starving and need all the money they can get. They are underpaid. They also have no qualifications. It's the equivilant of unskilled work here, which is also poorly paid and sometimes in pretty awful conditions. It's all about context.

I'm totally rambling and don't even know what I'm saying any more.

It's something to do with a sociological imagination.
I can definately see where you are coming from, and I do agree to a certain extent but entirely not so. I guess my argument is that it shouldn't be about context, there should be the same context for us all, and the Western companies providing the poor working conditions isn't going to bring about any wider equality in the world (and of course they never will provide the working conditions that I feel these people deserve).
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#17 bred

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 08:42 PM

Of course sweat shops aren't giving poor people in poor countries the opportunities people have in the West. What they are doing is providing better opportunities than there were previously.
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#18 linds

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 08:48 PM

See if something like this comes up in my sociology exam? I think I'll have to hunt down every one of you and kiss you all. We talked about this in the workshops one week, which is generally a hint for an exam question.

#19 ermd

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 10:00 AM

QUOTE(ad absurdum @ Mar 20 2007, 08:35 PM) View Post
I guess my argument is that it shouldn't be about context, there should be the same context for us all, and the Western companies providing the poor working conditions isn't going to bring about any wider equality in the world (and of course they never will provide the working conditions that I feel these people deserve).


Then that opens up that whole new argument re capitalism in general...

Which I think my views are well enough known on.





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