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Author Topic: Whats our responsibility in global manufacturing?  (Read 1136 times)

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Offline mecch

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Whats our responsibility in global manufacturing?
« on: May 16, 2013, 07:19:00 AM »
I read this morning the death toll in Bangladesh has hit 1000.  And a factory producing ASICS collapsed in Cambodia.

I read lot of companies are signing onto an accord to improve conditions in Bangladesh.  But Walmart won't, instead doing their own control which some argue is smoke and mirrors adding up to nothing. 

This is nothing new here, we've been having this conversation for awhile but at least now there's more attention to implications of our supply chain and people are thinking... 

I see the arguments on all sides.  Thinking about what I'm willing to pay, or simply not buy. 

Its been a long time I buy the "fair trade / equitable exchange" coffee, bananas, etc - since there they are in the supermarket, always available and the price difference isn't important. 

Sometimes we have little choice.  My Apple products.  Lots of times when I look for new clothes. You need something, you buy whats available at the price you can deal with.

Isn't it possible to have a middle ground, where the big companies make a little less profit, the workers make a little more or at least work in safer more humane conditions, and the prices don't change all that much? 

Its not just the labour in developing countries.  Something has to give on service workers in the US, as well.  Can't they make more money, have more benefits, and yet the price point still be attractive to sell a lot of hamburgers, and such?

1000 dead. I mean come on.

I read an article in the New Statesman right after the collapse.
http://www.newstatesman.com/economics-blog/2013/04/now-not-time-defend-sweatshops

It shows the many arguments why cheap labour is good for both exporter and importer.  But it makes a fine point that the factories/so-called sweatshops ARE NOT MEETING the local laws.  Meaning the western discounters are not bothering to buy from legal factories in these producing countries...  Squeezing every penny possible makes that difficult it seems.   So, who has a role in this? 

I think its good if the western companies are shamed and consumers demand, at least buy from factories that are not death traps!  Can we have a cheap t-shirt or kitchen gadget or string of christmas lights that isn't made in a death trap? If not, I guess, no thanks, I won't buy anything.  Thats what my father did, but that was his generation, ("buy American"), and when you're old, I guess you can be stubborn in your ways, and live with what you got, or live with less crap.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2013, 07:36:00 AM by mecch »
“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline Theyer

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Re: Whats our responsibility in global manufacturing?
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2013, 02:07:05 PM »
It is a disgrace Meech added to many, stick a pin in history say the Bopal chemical diesaster, it goes on with greed as its foundation.

Ethical buying is one way forward, if you can afford it and are motivated enough. I do think knowing the route off what you perchase is important , look at the horse meat malarkey, here in Europe.

Un regulated free market Global capitalism is not the answer to stopping these outrages. Product boycots , public shame , ruthless no corruption policies and laws that are Global will be a start.
"If we can find the money to kill people, we can find the money to help people ."  Tony Benn

Offline J.R.E.

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Re: Whats our responsibility in global manufacturing?
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2013, 08:05:55 AM »


Chris Hayes, was covering this on his show last night on  MSNBC ( All In)

http://video.msnbc.msn.com/all-in-/51911968#51911968

Ray
Current Meds ; Viramune, Epzicom, 40mg of simvastatin, 12.5mg of Hydrochlorothiazide.
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http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=40802.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=45159.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=39722.msg495621;topicseen#msg495621

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=46806.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=39414.msg491701#msg491701


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Offline mecch

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Re: Whats our responsibility in global manufacturing?
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2013, 08:07:58 AM »
Wow thanks. I look forward to seeing that, when I get back today from my shopping chores.... 
It has really struck me that the catastrophe in Bangladesh is, also, historically really big.
A relatively straightforward step might be Western relailers being required to use only LEGAL factories in these producing nations. The factory was illegal by Bangladesh's own laws and regulations. They have engineers, after all.

There are probably actual slaves working in some countries.  Which is probably illegal in those countries.  And western retailers can just hire any factory it wants and that's fine???  Aren't there laws in importing countries preventing the import of such products??  Should be.  I know its illegal in the US to pay bribes to foreign governments related to "offshore" production as well as offshore business activities.  Ralph Lauren lost millions in Argentina, getting caught doing this.

A company selling products made by slaves, or made in deathtraps, should be actionable where they are selling the product.  Its difficult for one country, let alone one business, to regulate and influence the industrialisation and labour processes in another country.  But a rich country should be able to directly slap hefty fines or even criminal cases on retailers selling such dirty immoral products.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2013, 08:24:57 AM by mecch »
“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline bocker3

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Re: Whats our responsibility in global manufacturing?
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2013, 03:08:20 PM »

A relatively straightforward step might be Western relailers being required to use only LEGAL factories in these producing nations. The factory was illegal by Bangladesh's own laws and regulations. They have engineers, after all.

Why stop there??  Why not require the consumer to ensure they only purchase items made in LEGAL factories??

While I agree that companies shouldn't, knowingly, contract out work to companies that aren't in compliance with local laws -- really, the onus isn't on the retailers -- it is on the companies making the clothing and, most of all, the government that regulates these places.

We can NOT have everything we want at the lowest possible price and still expect things like living wages, no safety "shortcuts", etc.  The problem stems NOT from the WalMarts or the H&Ms of the world -- the problem stems from US, the people demanding cheap stuff.  Yes, yes -- corporate greed plays a role, of course -- though these are public companies, so many of us have a role in that too.

Bottomline, tragedies like this should not happen and we need to get them to not happen in the future -- but we can't place all the blame on that evil ol' capitalism.  Consumers and local governments bear fare more blame, IMO.

Mike
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Offline Jeff G

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Re: Whats our responsibility in global manufacturing?
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2013, 03:30:28 PM »
I don't know about that bocker , the onus probably belongs largely on the importers and company's that send designed products to be manufactured in sweat shops . Its not exactly easy to get good results by googling did a slave make my undershirt . Its infinitely more feasible to expect the person that's importing products to be held to a MUCH higher standard .     

I worked in the Chicago merchandise mart during the made in America boon and then I saw it decline . I was a manufacturers representative and my manufacturers learned the hard way not to do business with the giants like Crate and Barrel or Pier One , the list goes on .

They placed huge orders which pretty much made American manufactures a one customer business , they would then send the product to china or India and knock it off for a fraction of the cost . A patent isn't worth a thing if you change one design element even slightly .

These corporations did what corporations do and that's maximize profits but they ruined a whole industry in one decade and the consumer never knew a thing because its legal and not particularly looked down upon by many .       
« Last Edit: May 17, 2013, 03:33:03 PM by Jeff G »

Online buginme2

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Re: Whats our responsibility in global manufacturing?
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2013, 03:58:38 PM »
This isnt exactly a new problem. 

The Insutrial Revolution in Europe and America led to the people organizing and forming unions to combat labor coniditions including child labor.  Unionization continued up to the 1970's with Cesar Chavez organizing the farm workers. 

IMHO this is something for the people of India (and the other developing countries with low wage unskilled labor) to take a stand, possibly organize, or make change through the political process. 

Its not something we can control from the other side of the world. 

Offline mecch

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Re: Whats our responsibility in global manufacturing?
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2013, 04:06:44 PM »
I agree that it's not the fault of evil ol capitalism. IMO everyone has a hand in this.  It's hardly just the discounters, but they probably order the highest percentage of this crap.  And I agree, they do it because the consumer both wants it and needs it. If the consumer has a small budget, its only logical they need cheep goods. 

Middle class consumers could step up. I think they are, increasingly. Since its only from middle class and up that consumers have the option of consuming far too much. 

One of the jokes on middle class and wealthy consumers is that high priced goods are manufactured as well in such conditions, often enough. ASICS is a top brand. Remember the Burberry scandal at the Olympics.   >:(

More education for everyone.  Better and clearer labels. Fair trade processes and clearer labelling.  More and easier access to fair trade type imports.  Better promotion of first world goods. Making it easier for people to know what they are getting.  Making it easier to find this stuff. 

Michele Obama goes and meets the big retailers - pressures them into promoting the origin of their products. Patriotic "made in our country" sections in stores.  Can do it for food, why not other products?

I read the readers comments on Huff post articles about all this.  Frequently cited was the not clear belief that all New Balance is made in America.  Not so - have to read the label on the shoe you are considering..  But yet, that's a interesting model, New Balance.  Company willing to manufacture in two different ways.  (But their cheaply produced products should be a bit cheaper, at least, and this should all be clear.)

“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline mecch

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Re: Whats our responsibility in global manufacturing?
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2013, 04:07:45 PM »
Most analysts have made cogent arguments about how capitalism HELPS these countries.  We don't need a screed about Capitalism, it's not constructive at this time.
“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline Jeff G

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Re: Whats our responsibility in global manufacturing?
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2013, 04:23:42 PM »
You guys act like importers ad manufactures don't have to ability to visit or do vetting for who they are doing business with . We can and should have laws that dictate that the industry's that are manufacturing and importing put a system in place that guarantees the consumer that the goods we buy are not made by children or slave labor. 

The company's that are reaping the huge profits should be held responsible and consumers should have a way to know what business are responsible corporations .

I was in the wholesale industry for a decade and all of my manufactures that did business in other country's traveled to the place of origin for the products they sold , if they didn't know what was going on in a factory it was because they didn't want to know or care .   

Offline Dachshund

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Re: Whats our responsibility in global manufacturing?
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2013, 04:24:24 PM »
Yes capitalism has worked wonders for third world countries. Unbridled capitalism is just as dangerous as any other form of government when it comes to worker's rights.

Offline Miss Philicia

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Re: Whats our responsibility in global manufacturing?
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2013, 04:37:09 PM »
Well howdy there Karl Marx!

wait

wat
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Offline bocker3

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Re: Whats our responsibility in global manufacturing?
« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2013, 05:22:02 PM »
I am not saying that companies should NOT try and ensure they are dealing with ethical contractors, but really, it can't be ALL them.  We are not without blame in where we are today.  I was being facetious when I said a consumer should ensure things are manufactured in "good" environments -- but it is our demand that we get things are rock bottom prices that helps drive this.  If we say, "H&M (or Walmart, or whomever) must make sure conditions are proper" but we continue to buy their goods, well, what message is that sending.  We "vote" with our dollars. 
Companies are after the almighty dollar -- that is why they exist -- we can help "guide" them by either going to them or their competitor.

It really is the government and the people of these countries that should really be driving reform -- as pointed out by Bug -- we can try and influence, but we can't be there 24/7.  Nor should we.

Mike
Atripla - Started 12/05
Reyataz/Norvir - Added 6/06
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