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Thread: Would you buy a camera if you knew it was made in a sweatshop?

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    Member Agnius's Avatar
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    Would you buy a camera if you knew it was made in a sweatshop?

    I keep reading about appalling conditions computer assembly workers deal with every day and it just hit me - is my camera made just like that?

    For me, "Made in Germany" or even "Japan" stands for good working conditions and fair pay. China, Thailand and Vietnam does not have this track record.

    How would it affect your purchasing decision if you knew that what you are getting is made by a worker paid $10 for a 12h workday?

    It is bugging me very much.

    Your comments are appreciated.

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    Re: Would you buy a camera if you knew it was made in a sweatshop?

    China, no problems. Despite the socio-political environment currently there, it is acceptable and it is not about the $ wage.

    The other countries are also fine IF the workers involved were the locals and not in effect bonded laborers from another country.

    Broad brushing certain countries is simply wrong.

    Here, in the Netherlands, there are countless undocumented workers doing a lot of jobs.

    Would you buy a Tulip or a Tomato from here?

    Would I buy raisins or nuts from CA?

    Difficult questions with no clear answers.

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    Re: Would you buy a camera if you knew it was made in a sweatshop?

    Not if by slaves
    Yes if that wage is based on local market conditions.
    The fact is that folks tend to work for where they feel they get the best deal.

    My grandfather on my mother's side was a coal miner in Pennsylvania when they had a long strike, then the depression hit and then they shut down the mines. He worked for whatever he could get, and it was often barter for food.

    Reading in detail about China's computer assembly plants, and having visited one, I would say that they have the most competitive sort of assembly plants anywhere. As long as the workers are willing, and many seem to be, they will dominate electronics manufacture. Not only are their wages low (but increasing) but they have plant automation systems second to none.

    If you really want to look at poor conditions, there are some garment factories in places such as Vietnam and Thailand. Feel free to order your custom shirts from London, but chances are they will be stitched together somewhere else.

    Global trade is actually raising living conditions in rather undeveloped areas although there is some evidence that it is lowering living conditions in the West.

    So even though someone may be working for $10.00 per day, it often beats their reasonably available alternatives which may be more more than $10.00 per month.

    Would it make me feel better if I did not buy products that they made? No, it would be taking food from their mouths.

    -bob
    Last edited by Bob; 30th January 2012 at 06:07.

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    Senior Member David Schneider's Avatar
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    Re: Would you buy a camera if you knew it was made in a sweatshop?

    The tv show, Sunday Morning, had a segment today on iPhones and the plant they are made in in China. They had to put netting around the building because workers where jumping out of the building killing themselves due to the pressure to produce. Kids that are 12 years old working there.

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    Re: Would you buy a camera if you knew it was made in a sweatshop?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Schneider View Post
    The tv show, Sunday Morning, had a segment today on iPhones and the plant they are made in in China. They had to put netting around the building because workers where jumping out of the building killing themselves due to the pressure to produce. Kids that are 12 years old working there.
    I thought these plants were huge and made things for more than one manufacturer. A couple of weeks ago Microsoft also had an issue

    Microsoft probing report of Foxconn mass-suicide threat | Business Tech - CNET News

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    Senior Member David Schneider's Avatar
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    Re: Would you buy a camera if you knew it was made in a sweatshop?

    I don't exactly remember the statistic they gave, but one company produces something like 40-50% of all electronics products in the world. I think they said at the one plant, they employed 400,000 people.

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    Re: Would you buy a camera if you knew it was made in a sweatshop?

    In Thailand, $10 is a rather normal salary per day, not only for factory workers but also for lots of office and retail employees. Teacher salaries mostly start lower than that. Farmers earn much less.

    The working conditions are often not up to the standards of western countries, but generally, the international corporations are the best to work for. They simply can't afford the bad PR that follows when inhuman work conditions are discovered. Mostly when conditions like that are discovered, it's with sub-contractors and other outsourced work. Some electronic manufacturers in China seem to be examples of that, and as has been mentioned above, the textile industry.

    It's important to remember that:

    - Cost level in the countries in question is only a fraction of that in the west
    - The alternative for many of the factory workers is often a life in poverty, prostitution, crime or other misery
    - Tradition and culture has a great influence on what people expect from their lives and what they are willing to invest to improve their situation

    When that is said, there's no doubt that there are unacceptable working conditions many places and that huge piles of money could probably be distributed in a fairer way, but then we run into a mine field of political opinions and other issues. Let it be very clear though: Most Asian countries are not democratic compared to a western model of democracy, and many of them probably never will be, at least not in a very long time, even though they seem to sail under a democratic flag. The most important implication of this is not how many dollars end up in one's purse, but how each member of society can influence his or her life with regards to education, healthcare etc.

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    Re: Would you buy a camera if you knew it was made in a sweatshop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    Not if my slaves
    Yes if that wage is based on local market conditions.
    The fact is that folks tend to work for where they feel they get the best deal.

    My grandfather on my mother's side was a coal miner in Pennsylvania when they had a long strike, then the depression hit and then they shut down the mines. He worked for whatever he could get, and it was often barter for food.

    Reading in detail about China's computer assembly plants, and having visited one, I would say that they have the most competitive sort of assembly plants anywhere. As long as the workers are willing, and many seem to be, they will dominate electronics manufacture. Not only are their wages low (but increasing) but they have plant automation systems second to none.

    If you really want to look at poor conditions, there are some garment factories in places such as Vietnam and Thailand. Feel free to order your custom shirts from London, but chances are they will be stitched together somewhere else.

    Global trade is actually raising living conditions in rather undeveloped areas although there is some evidence that it is lowering living conditions in the West.

    So even though someone may be working for $10.00 per day, it often beats their reasonably available alternatives which may be more more than $10.00 per month.

    Would it make me feel better if I did not buy products that they made? No, it would be taking food from their mouths.

    -bob
    Well said, Bob.

    The workers in England's Industrial Revolution worked in very poor conditions but they willingly left the appalling rural lives they hitherto led. And slowly their lives got better and they (relatively) prospered.

    A job at $10 a day is better than no job at all.

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    Re: Would you buy a camera if you knew it was made in a sweatshop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Caulfeild-Browne View Post
    The workers in England's Industrial Revolution worked in very poor conditions but they willingly left the appalling rural lives they hitherto led. And slowly their lives got better and they (relatively) prospered.
    Karl Marx's Das Kapita was, in effect, a narration of that time period and those socio-economic conditions.

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