Are sweatshops good or bad? essay
The term “sweatshop” denotes a factory which violates labor laws and human rights by forcing workers to have low wages, to work in poor conditions and/or long hours. There are many sweatshops worldwide, and many S&P 500 companies rely on sweatshops to make profits. The major reasons why companies organize sweatshops are low labor costs and poor protection of workers rights in the developing countries. The purpose of this paper is to discuss whether sweatshops are good or bad. The major thesis of the paper is the following; sweatshops are bad, and it should be the goal of all human beings to combine efforts to eliminate sweatshops and similar business practices.
There are numerous negative issues associated with sweatshops. People have to work and live in poor conditions in such factories; many of them receive low wages which are only enough to provide for some food or shelter or medicine. Workers of top earning corporations might have to choose between buying a medicine, buying a breakfast, buying basic clothes, etc.
Children of those parents who work in sweatshops grow mostly on their own; they are not able to get an education and eventually the children of these parents will form another generation of sweatshop workers. In many developing countries, children above 5 years are also forced to work.
Large corporations often use unethical and even cruel practices in developing countries to force their workers to work in such poor conditions. There are armed guards in sweatshops, and the top management in developing countries might collaborate with local mafia to gain control of the workforce. When external people attempt to visit sweatshops, guards do not allow workers to speak with the visitors at the threat of penalties, firing or even physical punishment.
This vicious cycle of poverty and exploitation should be stopped. Furthermore, it can be stopped: according to surveys of public opinion, consumers might be willing to pay 15% more for products that do not come from sweatshops, and doubling the pay of workers in such factories would only cause an increase of cost by 1.8% on average (Do Something, n.d.). The profits of large companies might slightly reduce due to eliminating sweatshops, but at the same time providing at least for basic human needs might increase the performance of sweatshop workers, drive motivation and stimulate the growth of developing economies.
The supporters of sweatshops have several arguments warranting the existence of sweatshops. For instance, Kristof (2009) states that in some regions working in a sweatshop is considered a blessing for those people who do not have a job and have to dig garbage to find some plastic elements for recycling. Furthermore, Kristof (2009) indicates that the standards of living in the regions with sweatshops soared. However, these arguments only show that the presence of factories in developing countries is beneficial for economic development.
None of the arguments set by Kristof actually justifies the practices common for sweatshops: extremely low wages, poor living conditions, excess working hours (which are directly related to very low wages), etc. Furthermore, if manufacturing companies adopt some basic standards of payment and working conditions that allow their workers to maintain human dignity, both these companies and the economies of developing countries will be better off.
Indeed, workers who have enough time to rest and enough resources to satisfy their basic needs are able to work more efficiently, can reduce the rate of errors and can be more enthusiastic in their work. Furthermore, higher wages will cause the inflow of additional finance into developing countries; these cash flows will likely stimulate the further increase of living standards in the community. The only threat that comes from adopting such practices is international competition from countries with no laws protecting their workers. However, if basic labor standards and wages were adopted at the international level, there would be no such threat to the developing countries which dare protect the rights of their citizens. Therefore, the arguments set by the supporters of sweatshops are inconsistent and basically relate to the presence of manufacturing companies and not to the practices adopted by sweatshops. Sweatshops have negative consequences for the developing countries and should be eliminated at the international level.
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