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3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Today

Crossroads

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So, I've recently been looking at this issue of 3rd world labor, after the factory collapse in Bangladesh that ended up killing more than one thousand people. It kind of shocked me into really caring about this issue. So I've been looking around the internet, and trying to do some basic research on the topic. One of the first sites I came across was "The Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights".

Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights

They have a large body of work on the subject, though it comes from a very leftist perspective to be sure, but if even half of their research is true, then something needs to be done.

One thing I WANT TO GET OUT OF THE WAY FIRST, is the horrible, inhumane argument usually put forth very quickly by conservatives and libertarians; "Although the workers in these countries are working in conditions what we may think to be horrible and getting paid very little, these jobs pay more than the local employment available". THIS is a completely shallow argument. It is THE EQUIVALENT of having an incredibly rich man, with a near unlimited supply of food surrounding him, giving the poor starving man next to him a few crumbs, and then justifying his actions by simply saying "well, it's still more than he would have had otherwise". That is NOT an answer to this issue. Also, it isn't even true in many cases. In Honduras, at the car factories owned by international companies, wages are around THE LOWEST WAGES IN THE COUNTRY.


The main points I want to put out there for debate are;

- The current situation of labor in most of these countries (Bangladesh, China, India, Central America etc) is unacceptable. Something needs to change.

- 1st world countries, governments and businesses, need to take an active step in addressing these issues, and put REAL pressure on these countries to allow for unions to organize, and for the installment of basic labor standards (for instance; those currently put forth by the International Labour Organization, of which 185 countries are members of)

- Legislation the US could pass: The Decent Working Conditions and Fair Competition Act - Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights

- US citizens (and all citizens from wealthy countries) need to hold these corporations more accountable. In this day and age it is nearly impossible to have a normal existence without somehow benefiting from this 3rd world labor, but that doesn't mean we still can't work toward addressing at least some of these issues.


 

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Re: 3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Tod

So, I've recently been looking at this issue of 3rd world labor, after the factory collapse in Bangladesh that ended up killing more than one thousand people. It kind of shocked me into really caring about this issue. So I've been looking around the internet, and trying to do some basic research on the topic. One of the first sites I came across was "The Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights".

Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights

They have a large body of work on the subject, though it comes from a very leftist perspective to be sure, but if even half of their research is true, then something needs to be done.

One thing I WANT TO GET OUT OF THE WAY FIRST, is the horrible, inhumane argument usually put forth very quickly by conservatives and libertarians; "Although the workers in these countries are working in conditions what we may think to be horrible and getting paid very little, these jobs pay more than the local employment available". THIS is a completely shallow argument. It is THE EQUIVALENT of having an incredibly rich man, with a near unlimited supply of food surrounding him, giving the poor starving man next to him a few crumbs, and then justifying his actions by simply saying "well, it's still more than he would have had otherwise". That is NOT an answer to this issue. Also, it isn't even true in many cases. In Honduras, at the car factories owned by international companies, wages are around THE LOWEST WAGES IN THE COUNTRY.


The main points I want to put out there for debate are;

- The current situation of labor in most of these countries (Bangladesh, China, India, Central America etc) is unacceptable. Something needs to change.

- 1st world countries, governments and businesses, need to take an active step in addressing these issues, and put REAL pressure on these countries to allow for unions to organize, and for the installment of basic labor standards (for instance; those currently put forth by the International Labour Organization, of which 185 countries are members of)

- Legislation the US could pass: The Decent Working Conditions and Fair Competition Act - Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights

- US citizens (and all citizens from wealthy countries) need to hold these corporations more accountable. In this day and age it is nearly impossible to have a normal existence without somehow benefiting from this 3rd world labor, but that doesn't mean we still can't work toward addressing at least some of these issues.




Well. I completely disagree with you. How's that for a start? ;)

It is the responsibility of these countries' governments to put building codes in place, effective minimum wage laws, safety standards, etc. It is not the responsibility of the United States of America.

I would completely support U.S. companies who formed an alliance that agreed to respect minimum wage laws, government employment laws, AND assured that the factories laboring on their orders adhered to certain minimum safety standards. By support, I mean I would be willing to pay more for their products. Whether others would is something else again. I rather doubt it.

I would also completely support an alliance of Third World countries who elected to actually, you know, CARE?? about their people?? But that's not going to happen in the sense WE think it should. Their governments are thankful for the jobs and aren't going to do anything to jeopardize them. And that's just the way it is.
 

sawdust

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Re: 3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Tod

I'll see your video and raise you one.

 

RabidAlpaca

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Re: 3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Tod

One thing I WANT TO GET OUT OF THE WAY FIRST, is the horrible, inhumane argument usually put forth very quickly by conservatives and libertarians; "Although the workers in these countries are working in conditions what we may think to be horrible and getting paid very little, these jobs pay more than the local employment available". THIS is a completely shallow argument. It is THE EQUIVALENT of having an incredibly rich man, with a near unlimited supply of food surrounding him, giving the poor starving man next to him a few crumbs, and then justifying his actions by simply saying "well, it's still more than he would have had otherwise". That is NOT an answer to this issue. Also, it isn't even true in many cases. In Honduras, at the car factories owned by international companies, wages are around THE LOWEST WAGES IN THE COUNTRY.

Except most of those jobs wouldn't exist if the wages are higher. Why does the world have most of their products produced in China? Because it's cheapest there. If you make the production costs higher by increasing labor wages, you're killing that edge they had. Why would anyone produce anything in China if it wasn't cheaper?

You're completely overlooking how basic production economics works, and it seems like you think every employer in the world is a rich greedy bastard that's making billions. Life ain't that cut and dry.
 

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Re: 3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Tod

It is my opinion that if a company wants to call itself an American company, and enjoy the rights and protections doing so entales, then they should be legally obligated to extend at least SOME of the rights and protections offered to US workers, to those laborers they employ, in the name of the US economy.
 

sawdust

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Re: 3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Tod

The real problem with the first post is ethnocentrism. We judge other countries using our frame of reference. The economic systems, the corruption, lack of natural resources, historical development and a number of other factors determine various levels of prosperity abroad. Prosperous nations have similar levels of employee protection and working conditions. Less prosperous nations do what they can with what they have. Our own ethnocentrism causes us to make value judgments on the less prosperous nations which are unrealistic because our standards are not affordable in those nations. It's elitist nonsense.

Understand I'm not arguing in favor of tragedy like what happened in Bhopal India but I understand that the government of India and Indian culture contributed to the problem there.
 

ttwtt78640

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Re: 3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Tod

That ignores basic reality. Even within the U.S., wages for the exact same job vary based on the local cost of living. A McJob in DC pays more than a McJob in Podunk - yet the work performed is identical. The same is true of manufacturing, labor costs, cost of living and safety/envirinmental laws are all local. A widget made in a lower cost area is going to easily undercut the price for the same widget made in a higher cost area. Why do automakers (foreign and domestic) place their new plants in right to work states? Hint: it is not to pay the same high wages as in union states.
 

Fisher

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Re: 3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Tod

"We must hold these people accountable" is code for "I am a control freak". They are beyond our reach and it is not our duty to impose our will upon them. Just have to live with it.
 

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Re: 3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Tod

Likewise Wal-Mart has a long history of high-profile labour rights violations.
 

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Re: 3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Tod

The fact is that not every country we engage in commerce with has the luxury of providing their workers with lifestyles and protections that we and other developed countries are accustomed to currently. The same industrialization process that America underwent in the late 19th and early 20th century will be endured by emerging countries and passed along to fledgling economies. Outside pressure in the form of reduced trade will do little to improve the average worker's living conditions and likely hamper income mobility.
 

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Re: 3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Tod

Remember when NAFTA was going to solve the labor exploitation problems in Mexico? The politicians sold NAFTA to the American people by telling us it would make Mexico such a labor paradise that Mexicans would stop immigrating to the United States to steal American jobs and welfare. What a joke.

The United States is not responsible for solving every problem in the whole damn world. If it's not the constant Liberal wars, it's crap like labor on the other side of the world.

Why don't we take care of our own for awhile and let the rest of the world fix their own endless problems?
 
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Crossroads

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Re: 3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Tod

Except most of those jobs wouldn't exist if the wages are higher. Why does the world have most of their products produced in China? Because it's cheapest there. If you make the production costs higher by increasing labor wages, you're killing that edge they had. Why would anyone produce anything in China if it wasn't cheaper?

You're completely overlooking how basic production economics works, and it seems like you think every employer in the world is a rich greedy bastard that's making billions. Life ain't that cut and dry.

Really? SO that give you the ability to justify allowing for millions of people to live their entire lives working on assembly lines 6 days a week (or more) 80 some hours a week, with little food, no freedom to unionize, or go on strike, nothing. Just like most "libertarians" you won't even address the human side of it, you just go straight to the snarky "economic" argument.

And what happens when these companies run out of 3rd world **** holes to run to? Your argument only works with the current system in place, with a seemingly never ending supply of countries willing to beat down their citizens and their workers when those workers demand rights. In the US, in a matter of a few decades, we made an extremely impressive amount of progress. If 1st world countries put their brains and economic power together, most certainly they could find a way to, at the very least, improve conditions in these countries. Passing laws that ban the import of goods made in sweatshop like conditions, for starters, could do a lot in forcing these countries to increase their work standards. Even the SMALLEST of wage demands can end in police beatings and the like.

And yes, companies like Apple, Wal-Mart, Vtech, they are making billions. "Greedy" can be more of a subjective term, but the way people like John Stossel use the word, MOST CERTAINLY they are "greedy".
 

Crossroads

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Re: 3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Tod

Remember when NAFTA was going to solve the labor exploitation problems in Mexico? The politicians sold NAFTA to the American people by telling us it would make Mexico such a labor paradise that Mexicans would stop immigrating to the United States to steal American jobs and welfare. What a joke.

The United States is not responsible for solving every problem in the whole damn world. If it's not the constant Liberal wars, it's crap like labor on the other side of the world.

Why don't we take care of our own for awhile and let the rest of the world fix their own endless problems?

Oh yes, the other god damn problem with this argument. The "Americans are more important than everyone else" argument. Disgusting.
 

Crossroads

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Re: 3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Tod

I'll see your video and raise you one.



See argument raised in bold in original post.
 

Crossroads

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Re: 3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Tod

That ignores basic reality. Even within the U.S., wages for the exact same job vary based on the local cost of living. A McJob in DC pays more than a McJob in Podunk - yet the work performed is identical. The same is true of manufacturing, labor costs, cost of living and safety/envirinmental laws are all local. A widget made in a lower cost area is going to easily undercut the price for the same widget made in a higher cost area. Why do automakers (foreign and domestic) place their new plants in right to work states? Hint: it is not to pay the same high wages as in union states.

Pay is only part of it. Even if the pay could buy them enough to survive (which basic survival shouldn't be the end goal in life), you're still left with 80 hour work weeks, no, or extremely few vacations, horrible living conditions etc. Many workers have to turn to loan sharks to survive, for example.

U.S. Free Trade Debacle in Central America

After 29 years of Free Trade agreements with Central America, Lear workers in Honduras producing Hyundai and Kia auto parts for export to the U.S. continue to earn below-subsistence wages of just 99 cent an hour, while being illegally fired and blacklisted for daring to exercise their legal rights, including the right to organize a union at Lear.

Lear’s workers in Honduras are trapped in makeshift, dirt-floored huts, lacking potable water, relying on primitive outhouses and cooking with wood, since they cannot afford gas. The workers’ children go barefoot to save their shoes for church and school. Lear workers subsist on rice and beans, and even so, they often must turn to loan sharks to survive.

Lear, Hyundai and Kia workers are on their feet the entire shift, constantly rushing to keep up with the moving rotary tables and typically performing 6,160 operations per shift, or one operation every 4.82 seconds, connecting circuits on the wire harnesses and binding them together with tape.

The workers are drenched in sweat, since factory temperatures routinely exceed 95 degrees. Supervisors threaten and curse at the workers to move faster or face dismissal. Many workers report they experience sharp pains in their wrists, hands and fingers from repeating the same motions, nonstop, throughout the day.

Recently management unilaterally increased the workers’ production quota by 17 percent — with no wage increase.

Workers have to bring their own toilet paper to work.

The Honduran Ministry of Labor is not acting in good faith. When corporations like Lear deliberately and arbitrarily block Honduran labor inspectors from entering the KyungshinLear factory in San Pedro Sula, the Labor Ministry’s only “recourse” is to fine the $14.2-billion Lear Corporation between $10.23 and $102.30 in penalties — which amounts to a pitiful slap on the wrist. When it comes to enforcing labor rights, the system is broken.

Similarly, the U.S. Government’s ironclad commitments to the multinational corporations have blossomed under 29 years of free trade agreements. The multinationals have been lavished with massive tariff and tax breaks, while workers’ real wages are slashed and the workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively are suppressed. This must change.
29 Years of Failure: U.S. Free Trade Debacle in Central America - Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights
 

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Re: 3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Tod

Well. I completely disagree with you. How's that for a start? ;)

It is the responsibility of these countries' governments to put building codes in place, effective minimum wage laws, safety standards, etc. It is not the responsibility of the United States of America.

I would completely support U.S. companies who formed an alliance that agreed to respect minimum wage laws, government employment laws, AND assured that the factories laboring on their orders adhered to certain minimum safety standards. By support, I mean I would be willing to pay more for their products. Whether others would is something else again. I rather doubt it.

I would also completely support an alliance of Third World countries who elected to actually, you know, CARE?? about their people?? But that's not going to happen in the sense WE think it should. Their governments are thankful for the jobs and aren't going to do anything to jeopardize them. And that's just the way it is.

Do you think it is beyond our power to heavily influence these countries? We buy their products, AND MANY OF THESE companies are based in 1st world nations, they are, in a sense, OUR companies. Any progress we've had as been mostly due to outside influence.
 

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Re: 3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Tod

Do you think it is beyond our power to heavily influence these countries? We buy their products, AND MANY OF THESE companies are based in 1st world nations, they are, in a sense, OUR companies. Any progress we've had as been mostly due to outside influence.

You actually think we're supposed to someone influence these governments to establish higher minimum wages? What are you smoking? To double/triple/quadruple their minimum wage?? Or that we can influence these governments to establish building codes and building code enforcement agencies?

There's a walk that has to be walked to get from a Third World country to a Second or First World country. It won't work with crutches.
 

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Re: 3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Tod

See argument raised in bold in original post.

I saw it. Why would you expect anyone to accept a specious argument?
 

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Re: 3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Tod

The fact is that not every country we engage in commerce with has the luxury of providing their workers with lifestyles and protections that we and other developed countries are accustomed to currently. The same industrialization process that America underwent in the late 19th and early 20th century will be endured by emerging countries and passed along to fledgling economies. Outside pressure in the form of reduced trade will do little to improve the average worker's living conditions and likely hamper income mobility.

This seems to be a missed point by many of you. I'm not even asking for American standards. Just basic reforms, even modest pay increases. If you look at countries like Bangladesh, their governments don't allow them the chance to progress, they are beaten down in the street by police if they do. Similar things happened in the US in the early 1900s through the 1930s, but I would think it would be somewhat foolish to attempt to equally compare the U.S. in the early 1900s to these countries. The companies we were dealing with were more local, not multi-national corporations. We had basic rights in our laws, far more than countries like China have, even in the 21st century. If you adjust for inflation, many of these workers get payed far less than what American workers got paid in the early 1900s. Change has to come from outside with this issue, as well as from within. And on that point, if all the countries that are part of the International Labor Organization signed onto such reforms, wouldn't that force many of these countries to simply give in to certain demands, RATHER than give up those jobs and that income? And yes, there would probably be a rough period in transitions, but in the long run, how could it be worse than a never ending state of what we are currently faced with?
 

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Re: 3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Tod

Unfortunately, there's little motivation to do anything about it. Our government benefits from our people paying low prices, our people benefit from low prices, their governments benefit from getting pay offs (think our wealth gap is big? theirs is HUGE), and they also benefit from their people having jobs (crappy though they are). The losers are, of course, those people. The workers in those countries will have to demand better working conditions etc. Probably the only time I'll openly support the idea of a union is when it comes to real positive change in worker safety and standard of living at the workplace. Labor may be cheap, but there's no excuse for it being unsafe or demeaning. Those people are the only ones that can realistically effect change. It won't be easy...people will get hurt and die from that struggle (reference America's stand for labor rights in the late 1800s early 1900s), but that is the only way any real, lasting change will occur despite your consumer conscience and good intentions.
 

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Re: 3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Tod

I saw it. Why would you expect anyone to accept a specious argument?

1. Your argument is based on a false premise. Not all countries enjoy jobs from international companies that pay above local norms.

2. How is my argument specious? Could the gigantic corporations allow for unions, for small wage increases, for less grueling work conditions? (Yes) Is mass human suffering worth less than an international car or tech company making a few more million a year? Yes, maybe some of those costs are passed on to the consumer, but giving these workers modest concessions (not full American labor standards, just simple pay raises, and less hours and what not) wouldn't overload the system, it wouldn't crash the global economy.
 

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Re: 3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Tod

1. Your argument is based on a false premise. Not all countries enjoy jobs from international companies that pay above local norms.

2. How is my argument specious? Could the gigantic corporations allow for unions, for small wage increases, for less grueling work conditions? (Yes) Is mass human suffering worth less than an international car or tech company making a few more million a year? Yes, maybe some of those costs are passed on to the consumer, but giving these workers modest concessions (not full American labor standards, just simple pay raises, and less hours and what not) wouldn't overload the system, it wouldn't crash the global economy.


If you lived in a third world country as a child and had a choice of looking for scraps of food in a dump or working in a sweatshop which enabled you to buy a meal, which would you take? The professor of economics in the clip who actually studied several countries didn't say that all sweatshops paid more than the average wage. He did say some do. I still maintain that your argument is ethnocentric. If all sweatshops around the world closed, how many lives would be hurt. How many people would be forced to subsistence farming, gathering firewood for sale or eating from dumpsters or dumps?
 

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Re: 3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Tod

So, I've recently been looking at this issue of 3rd world labor, after the factory collapse in Bangladesh that ended up killing more than one thousand people. It kind of shocked me into really caring about this issue. So I've been looking around the internet, and trying to do some basic research on the topic. One of the first sites I came across was "The Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights".

I, of course, agree with you. One thing we can do that may or may not have an immediate impact is to exercise our power as consumers. I try to buy american made or at least in stores where I can track who produces their goods. If I can't do that I shop at stores that have a reputation for treating their employees well. etc.

Question: I wonder about the impact allowing this to continue has on jobs here. As long as these corps can get cheaper labor elsewhere, they will ship jobs out of the US. If the standards are raised for workers in other countries that might keep more jobs here. Is that valid point?
 

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Re: 3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Tod

Pay is only part of it. Even if the pay could buy them enough to survive (which basic survival shouldn't be the end goal in life), you're still left with 80 hour work weeks, no, or extremely few vacations, horrible living conditions etc. Many workers have to turn to loan sharks to survive, for example.

29 Years of Failure: U.S. Free Trade Debacle in Central America - Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights

What exactly do you propose that the U.S. do about that? This is not new, we know full well that people do not flee into the U.S. from Mexico (and points south), by the millions, because working conditions there are wonderful, yet we (both parties) play dumb and allow that "free trade" and our pourous border because it is very profitable to do so.
 

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Re: 3rd World Labor - Labor Rights Abuses - The Most Important Human Rights Issue Tod

"We must hold these people accountable" is code for "I am a control freak". They are beyond our reach and it is not our duty to impose our will upon them. Just have to live with it.

Actually that is far from the truth of the matter. We refuse to impose trade restrictions on them beacuse we (meaning mostly those that supply campaign cash) like cheap (highly profitable) stuff. You will never see protests over this with demorats in charge, this will become a major issue only if (when?) republicants are in charge.
 
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