Sweatshops (was Re: Made in China)

From: Travas Gunnell (travasg@yahoo.com)
Date: Tue Apr 17 2001 - 03:54:49 MDT

My, what a can of worms we've opened here...

--- Chuck Kuecker <ckuecker@mcs.net> wrote:

> Ditto "sweatshops". If the choice is between a
> twelve hour work shift six
> days a week, and starvation, I would gladly work
> those hours. ( I tend to
> do this anyway, but then, I am my own "exploiter"!)

> There is one glaring exception to this rule. If the
> country in question
> (China?) uses SLAVE labor, then a boycott will not
> hurt the workers any
> more than buying the goods would, since they will
> not see any profits
> whatever from sales, unlike "exploited" workers. I
> consciously try not to
> buy Chinese goods because of this, at least until I
> see good evidence that
> there is no forced labor involved.

> Underpaid workers have the options of forming
> unions, going on strike, or
> just quitting, just like they do here. Slave workers
> have none of these
> options.

> A useful thing would be a chart showing the labor
> practices of various
> countries. If there is government coercion involved
> in labor, then I would
> consider a boycott of that country's goods. If the
> workers are paid the
> local going wage, let's help them by keeping their
> employment opportunities
> open.
> Chuck Kuecker

A sweatshop involves much more than just being
underpaid. Sweatshops typically feature several of
the following: threats and intimidation, human rights
abuses, hazardous working conditions, unsanitary
working conditions, failure to even pay the meager
wages that are owed, repression (often brutal) of
labor organization attempts, sexual abuse, and
occasionally even "dissapearing" those who get too
     While this may be an impovement over starving to
death, I hardly consider it "freedom".
     Workers under these conditions are probably even
worse off than slaves. If you "own" a slave, you at
least want them to stay healthy enough to work,
whereas in a sweatshop if someone is unable or
unwilling to work (or dies due to work related
injuries), you can just hire someone new from the
large pool of unemployed, starving people.
     Furthermore, the low wages that are paid to these
people, even after taking into account the lower
standard of living, are typically still not a living
wage. They are often only paid barely enough to

That's all for now... A few links:

A page with some examples of wages in the apparel

What is a sweatshop?

Child Labor Exploitation

Sweatshop Watch

Sweat-Free Shopping

Stop Saipan Sweatshops

An American Sweatshop

Sweatshops & child labor

What are the myths of capitalist economics?


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