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- Indentured Servitude Tommy Hilfiger
2,040 wordsThe US General Accounting Office defines a sweatshop as a business that regularly violates wage, child labor, health and / or safety laws. While sweatshop abuses in the garment industry have been an issue of public concern for decades, few people know about the sweatshops of the booming electronics industry. Behind the gleaming facade of the high tech industry are thousands of low-paid, mostly immigrant women, who assemble the nuts and bolts of our computers using hundreds of toxic William Carls...
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- Cents An Hour Code Of Conduct
1,443 wordsFor many people, such as those in China, Vietnam, and Indonesia, working in sweatshops is a common way of life. A sweatshop is a work place that has been given this slang name because of the work conditions inside the factory itself. Conditions are rumored to be hard, often involving long working hours and barley lit, small workstations. Often, sweatshops will entail utilizing women and young children to accomplish a majority of the work. Working in such places is not a choice for most, but is t...
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- Transnational Social Movements And The Campaign Against Nike
2,410 words"Using the case of the anti-Nike sweatshop labour campaign, discuss the basis, the process and the problems faced by new transnational social movement coalitions. " In an increasingly globalized world Transnational Corporations (TNCs) have acquired unprecedented levels of power and autonomy. Spurred on by neo-liberal economic ideology, deregulation of markets and increasing international flows of capital, TNCs are relocating manufacturing to countries where labour costs are cheapest as a means o...
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- Transnational Social Movements And The Campaign Against Nike
2,462 words... es (1997, cited by Bullert, 2000). Economic development in post-modern societies provides a relative level of affluence and security so young people focus increasingly on the meaning and purpose of life, self-expression, and subjective well-being. Issues are being championed on the basis of personal identity politics rather than on broader political party affiliations or fixed alliances. The direct challenging of elites is a style of political activity that fits well with a post-materialist ...
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- College Or University Walt Disney
1,362 words... eople use it. Most factories only allow one bathroom break per day. The lighting in these factories is not very good. Poor lighting cause eyestrain and eye injuries (Springer 78 - 79). The factories should make sure that their workplaces are clean and that their workers cannot inhale the fumes before hiring any workers. The workers do not get minimum wage. The workers work long fifteen-hour days with one or no breaks. If they get a break, they can only take fifteen minutes and must go back t...
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- Ho Chi Minh Chi Minh City
1,940 words... on, arts, medical research and the environment. Hes given money to Gilchrist, Mapleton and Medford to pay for all-weather tracks and, when budget cuts threatened the Oregon baseball program, Bowerman dug into his own wallet to support the formation of a club baseball program. In 1990, he agreed to donate 2. 1 million dollars for the construction of a two-story building at the legendary Hayward Field on the UO campus that now bears his name. He also created the Bill Bowerman Foundation, which...
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- Style Of Management Aware Of The Fact
1,025 wordsStyles of Management There are two styles of management that are now being utilized by the majority of commercial and non-commercial organizations: authoritarian and democratic. Authoritarian style of management is being predominantly used by organizations that consider its own employees as the expendable component, within a context of their business strategy. For example, at Wal-Mart, workers are being paid minimum wages and they are expected to work over time, if required by superiors, without...
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- Minimum Wage Laws Turn Of The Century
1,932 wordsSweatshops In recent years the debate over sweatshops has become a forefront issue for a wide range of players in a globalizing world, including governments, multinational corporations, multilateral development organizations, civil society and concerned individuals. Often heated and always complex, the debate over whether sweatshops should be banned as unethical or embraced as a means to economic growth must be carefully unpacked and examined. While the Western public has long considered sweatsh...
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- Armed Forces Critical Thinking
3,373 wordsJournal # 1 The Electronic Sweatshop by Barbara Garson Introduction 038; Chapters 1 to 2 Summary In her introduction, Barbara Garson gives the reader an idea of her personal work experience as a clerk with automation. One can see that Garson is a strong critique of automation. In order to convey how automation is affecting our society the author begins by analyzing and studying various jobs from the bottom on up (i. e. starting with the most unskilled labor). Chapter one examines the various ...
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- Indentured Servitude Wal Mart
2,052 wordsThe US General Accounting Office defines a sweatshop as a business that regularly violates wage, child labor, health and / or safety laws. While sweatshop abuses in the garment industry have been an issue of public concern for decades, few people know about the sweatshops of the booming electronics industry. Behind the gleaming facade of the high tech industry are thousands of low-paid, mostly immigrant women, who assemble the nuts and bolts of our computers using hundreds of toxic chemicals. Ja...
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10 results found, view free essays on page:
Critics of sweatshops point to the 1,000+ people killed and 2,500+ people injured by the collapse of the Rana Plaza sweatshop in Bangladesh in 2013. This was indeed grotesque, and evidence of the poor conditions that many sweatshop workers have to work in.
But what is their next-best alternative? Subsistence farming still dominates many of the countries that sweatshops operate in – in Vietnam, 59% of workers are self-employed in farming; 1.5% work for businesses owned partially or fully by foreign firms. And farming – particularly subsistence farming – is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world.
The International Labour Organisation estimates that agricultural workers suffer 250 million accidents every year, and say that in some countries the fatal accident rate is twice as common in agriculture as in other industries. “Out of a total of 335,000 fatal workplace accidents worldwide,” say the ILO, “there are some 170,000 deaths among agricultural workers.” As horrendous as the Rana Plaza incident was, anti-sweatshop campaigners have not shown that sweatshops are more dangerous than sweatshop workers’ next-best alternative.
Sweatshops seem to have good impacts on women in particular. A study by researchers at the Universities of Washington and Yalethat I blogged about last year looked at different villages in Bangladesh – some close to sweatshops, some not.
In the villages close to sweatshops, girls were substantially less likely to get pregnant or be married off (28% and 29% respectively, and this effect was strongest among 12-18 year olds) and girls’ school enrolment rates were 38.6% higher. The authors say that these effects were likely due to a combination of wealth effects (richer families need to marry off their daughters less early, and can afford to send their daughters to school for longer) and the fact that garment factory jobs reward skills, increasing the value of education.
And what do workers themselves think of sweatshops, given not just wages but other non-monetary compensation as well? Using field interviews with thirty-one sweatshop workers in El Salvador, David, Emily, Brian and Erin Skarbek found that “workers perceive factory employment to provide more desirable compensation along several margins.”
This is not to condemn all work done ‘against’ sweatshops. Using data from Indonesia, the World Bank's Ann Harrison and Jason Scorse found that 1990s campaigns to improve conditions for sweatshop workers in the developing world seem to have led to real wage increases without significant unemployment effects, though some smaller factories did close.
The lesson here may be that work that focuses on improving wages and conditions for sweatshop workers, not closing down sweatshops and trying to wash our hands altogether, may be the best approach. Persuading consumers to continue buying things from sweatshops, but to pay a higher price to give those workers a better wage, might be a decent way of essentially 'bundling' a charitable donation into a normal purchase. Unfortunately, most campaigns in Britain seem to be straightforwardly anti-sweatshop.
And even the most noble-seeming campaigns can backfire. UNICEF argues that early 1990s campaigns to reduce child labour in Bangladesh’s formal economy led to children looking for income in much worse places: stone-crushing, street hustling, and prostitution.
It is understandable that anti-poverty campaigners find sweatshops appalling, and work done to improve conditions in sweatshops might be valuable, but too often people forget that blunt campaigns against sweatshops probably end up hurting people. Instead, people should use the awfulness of sweatshops – and even greater awfulness of other jobs – as proof that we need to do more, much more, to give better options to poor people in other countries.
One option might be guest worker programmes, targeted at people from the poorest countries in the world, to allow them to come and work in the developed world so that they can send more money back home for investment. And lower trade barriers to goods from poor countries would help them grow, too.
Sweatshops are particularly horrifying because they make us feel complicit in the suffering of the poor. They are not a good option, but they are the least bad option currently available to many people. Washing our hands of the situation and just closing the sweatshops would make their workers worse off, potentially much worse off. If we want to help people, we should give them new options, not take away existing ones.