Friday, April 23, 2010

You, yes you, are causing slavery.

How? Because you're too greedy and too cheap to pay the real costs of goods. You want far more stuff than your own income can reasonably afford, and Western companies oblige by forcing people in third world countries into defacto slavery so you won't have to pay a fair trade price for the products you buy. Who does this? Not just the usual suspects such as Walmart, but also companies that supposedly pride themselves on all the "good" they are doing in the world, such as Microsoft. Things don't look very good for these workers.

UK Daily Mail Online
The image Microsoft doesn't want you to see:
Too tired to stay awake, the Chinese workers earning just 34p an hour
By Liz Hull and Lee Sorrell
Last updated at 12:29 AM on 18th April 2010

Showing Chinese sweatshop workers slumped over their desks with exhaustion, it is an image that Microsoft won't want the world to see.

Employed for gruelling 15-hour shifts, in appalling conditions and 86f heat, many fall asleep on their stations during their meagre ten-minute breaks.

For as little as 34p an hour, the men and women work six or seven days a week, making computer mice and web cams for the American multinational computer company.

...The mostly female workers, aged 18 to 25, work from 7.45am to 10.55pm, sometimes with 1,000 workers crammed into one 105ft by 105ft room.

They are not allowed to talk or listen to music, are forced to eat substandard meals from the factory cafeterias, have no bathroom breaks during their shifts and must clean the toilets as discipline, according to the NLC.

The workers also sleep on site, in factory dormitories, with 14 workers to a room. They must buy their own mattresses and bedding, or else sleep on 28in-wide plywood boards. They 'shower' with a sponge and a bucket...

...Microsoft is not the only company to outsource manufacturing to KYE, but it accounts for about 30 per cent of the factory's work, the NLC said. Companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, Foxconn, Acer, Logitech and Asus also use KYE Systems...

...One employee told the NLC: 'We are like prisoners. It seems like we live only to work - we do not work to live. We do not live a life, only work.'

...Charles Kernaghan, executive director of the NLC, said: 'It sounded like torture - the frantic pace on the assembly line, same motion over and over for the 12 hours or more of work they did.'

This is the type of working conditions that Americans fought long and hard to pass laws to prevent, because they are immoral, unethical, and are pure and simple exploitation. And this is the type of workers that we ourselves are now having to compete with for jobs, because Microsoft and Walmart and others like them allow these conditions to prevail in places without such laws - indeed, they moved their manufacturing there on purpose specifically to avoid those laws that protect Americans from being treated like machines and like slaves.

It is absolutely wrong for us to turn a blind eye to this injustice. No sabbaths, no religious holidays, paid pennies an hour and forced to work far more than 8 hours a day - unless we ourselves are willing to work under these conditions, we are going to HAVE to fight for these people's rights. Otherwise, neither we nor they will have living wage jobs.

Shame on Microsoft. Shame on Walmart. Your "ethics" are a joke, and your "concern" for the world is a farce. If you want to help the people of the world, give them basic worker's rights, wage and labour laws, and living wages. Anything else is just propaganda.

And shame on us for buying from companies that have offshored their jobs to places that allow working conditions like this to exist. Buy American, class. If you don't, you will have only yourselves to blame when your kids are working in conditions like these poor girls. If you continue to support these practices with your hard earned money, you are subsidizing slave labour and causing wages and working conditions worldwide to fall to the lowest common denominator. Stop it. Buy from first world countries with wage and labour laws firmly in place or don't buy at all.

See also:

Wall Street Journal Online
Blogs: Real Time Economics
Broader U-6 Unemployment Rate Increases to 17.1% in April
By Phil Izzo Updated 05/07/2010

...The comprehensive gauge of labor underutilization, known as the “U-6″ for its data classification by the Labor Department, accounts for people who have stopped looking for work or who can’t find full-time jobs. Though the rate is still 0.3 percentage point below its high of 17.4% in October, its continuing divergence from the official number (the “U-3″ unemployment measure) indicates the job market has a long way to go before growth in the economy translates into relief for workers...

And as we've read elsewhere, it's not actually likely to at all.

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