Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the vast range of goods produced overseas and the often horrifying conditions under which workers labored to produce them. College students, activists, and certain scholars were quick to condemn “Sweatshops” and the multinational companies (Mans) that used them.
However, this initial moral condemnation was based more on a natural sense of horror than moral reasoning, and critics often demonstrated a lack of sensitivity to both the underlying economic conditions that gave rise to the sweatshop phenomenon and to the beneficial uniqueness Of sweatshops for both their employees and the broader economies in which they functioned. As a result, many economists quickly leapt to the defense of sweatshops.
However, currently, all sides to the debate now recognize that sweatshop labor often represents the best option available for desperately poor workers to improve their lives and the lives of their family, and that any attempt to reform sweatshops should be proceed with caution lest the incentives that product this benefit be destroyed. Regardless of much view that sweatshop is the best option, some still argue hat sweatshops violates the laws of the countries in which they operate, aside from charging that sweatshops labor, even if mutually beneficial, is nevertheless often or necessarily coercive or exploitative.
Sweatshops may also happen to be the best option for the potential workers since they are living in poverty and perhaps unable to adequately provide for themselves and their families, Mans provides the worker with just enough money to make the employment offer attractive, and will demand in exchange the worker to work for long hours in dangerous and unpleasant conditions. The most basic point made by defenders of sweatshops is that workers’ voluntary choice to accept sweatshop employment demonstrates that sweatshops were the best alternative available to them.
Arnold and Hartman argued that free market will generate many benefits if transactions among workers and employers optimally satisfy the interests of each only if there is a free flow of information, the transaction is truly voluntary, and people are able to make rational decisions about their self-interest. Workers are free to quit and look for another job at any time. Although pay and working intuitions seem low, but are an economic step forward compare to subsistence farming.
In fact, the average income for farmer in Indonesia is around DIR 1 35,000 per month whereas sweatshop wages is about DIR 156,000 per month which is higher than the farmer. Sweatshop workers themselves have the much more local knowledge than Mans and those workers certainly have the incentive to choose what is best for them. Real slavery exists today not due to economic development, but due to authoritarian regimes that do not recognize basic human rights like North Korea, Cuba and militias of Sudan and Somalia. Some critics also argued about the low wages of the sweatshop workers.
In practice, higher wage will deprive some countries comparative advantage which is the low-cost labor and reduce the job opportunities for poorer workers. When wage increases, demand for labor might decrease at the same time and causing low employment rate. However, sweatshop wages may double the national average in countries like Cambodia and Haiti. In this sense, sweatshops offer considerable improvement from their previous state such as a permanent state of near-starvation, or the backbreaking labor of subsidence farming.
Moreover, Arnold and Hartman claimed that some of the positive Mans deviants who voluntarily pay employees a living wage will achieve increases in worker productivity and loyalty. Some of the employers that unwilling to increase the wages might provide calories directly at a lower cost so as to fulfill the workers’ daily basic needs. In addition, exploitation of cheap labor is necessary to allow developing countries to expand export activities and to improve their economies. Based on Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” principle, demand and supply will prevent individual behavior that will damage the society’s interest.
When economic growth, it creates more jobs opportunities which will cause the labor market to tighten, which in turn will force Mans to improve working conditions in order to attract workers. Bear in mind, individuals who have no jobs at all are working on alternative jobs which are more hazardous and exploitative than sweatshops. For example, when Child Labor Deterrence Act (US) introduced, there were about 50,000 Bangladesh children dismissed from garment industry jobs and many of them took up stone-crushing, street hustling or even prostitution.
In this sense, the working conditions are far worse than the sweatshops. Jeffrey Cash also claimed that international trade will, in the long run, make all parties better off. As a result of improving the working conditions, Mans could have been successfully pursuing ethical branding and shifted out the demand curve for their products which in turn it will bolster the economic expansion and reduce unemployment rate. At the same time, Maintain does not accept the view that sweatshops pay unconscionable wages, or that they impoverish local workers and widen the gap between rich and poor.
He argued that interfering with the market can have terrible results and not only paying market wages in developing entries is morally permissible but also that it may be morally wrong for companies to pay wages that exceed market levels. Additionally, Kristin advocated that the best way to help people in the poorest countries is not to campaign against sweatshops but to promote manufacturing there. In order to attract Mans to manufacturing abroad, De George rejects the view that home-country standards should apply in host countries or else Mans would have little incentive to expand their businesses.
Although sweatshop may disrupt the local labor market with artificially high wages, it bore no relation o the local standard or cost of living. For instance, Nikkei paid wages equivalent to Indonesian legal minimum wage; these workers were among higher paid Indonesian. Even if wages are low in sweatshops, there are long lines of job applicants outside remaining conspicuous; workers consider themselves lucky to have them and want to keep them. For many workers, exploitation is not a concept easily comprehended because the alternative prospects for earning a living are so bleak.
On the other hand, there are also arguments that against sweatshops. Mans use the threat of withdrawal of investment to pressure governments and rockers to grant concessions. As result, a destructive downward spiral of the labor conditions and wages of workers throughout the world. For instance, sweatshop workers often work long hours for very low pay, regardless of laws mandating overtime pay or a minimum wage. Child labor laws may also be violated as sweatshops may have hazardous materials and situations.
Furthermore, employees may be subject to employer abuse without an easy way to protect themselves. In this situation, sweatshop is immoral as refer to Emmanuel Cant’s second maxim, people should not be used as a mean to achieve an end. Mans should not control over the sweatshop labor as they have dignity and rational thinking. Besides that, sweatshops also cause harm to the workers occasionally. For example, workers constantly are exposed to verbal, physical and sexual abuse by supervisors. However, workers are afraid to voice out as they have to keep the job in order to survive.
They may also suffer psychological abuse as they are forced to work under armed supervision and physically assaulted with no legal protection if productivity is not up to standards. Moreover, workers forced to work overtime without extra pay. Despite overtime not being a part of the contract, if they refuse to work, they will be fired. However, if sweatshops are not existed in this world, many poor may suffer from starvation and die of hunger. Statistic from BBC news revealed that four children die of hunger in every minute. Comparing between harms and deaths, it is actually a small matter to the workers.
While it is true that sweatshop workers’ wages are higher than the average wage for a worker in a third world country, but no evidence that jobs Of sweatshop workers are “better”. Simply because one job might pay more Han another doesn’t make it “better” ; especially if the workers are being exploited via working exceptionally long work days, or subject to harsh practices in unsafe conditions. Even one might choose to work in a sweatshop for their own survival (to afford the costs of minimal standards of living), it does not make sweatshop ethical.
Indeed something can only be considered a sweatshop in the first place if it specifically aims to keep the workers as poor as possible by maximizing profits for the company while having no regard for employees. In reality, once the workers can demand higher wages or better conditions, impasses simply move to another country; they find people who are even more desperate to employ. In this way, they can still pay as little as possible for labor, and all of the people who were once employed by sweatshops in one country lose their jobs thus remaining poor.
Demand for their labor doesn’t increase because companies simply hire different labor. Their jobs are outsourced putting them once again in a vulnerable position where any labor at all seems better than starvation. So, as you can see, this system is oppressive as it doesn’t truly give laborers the opportunity to invest or rise above their current economic standard, nor does it ensure a minimal standard of living. Instead, they are trapped in a vicious cycle that keeps them poor.
Capitalism fails in this regard as the idea is that demand for labor will increase, though this actually is not true. In conclusion, as refer to Cant’s categorical imperative, Mans should not treat a rational being merely as a means but always as an end in itself. While it’s true that employees will always be used as a means to make a profit, it becomes immoral when employees are seen merely as a means for profit. From the utilitarian perspective, considering the costs and benefits of headships, most of the workers are still demand for it even if it is an evil.
Based on the Kantian universal principles, the ethical obligation of respect for persons should guide the employment interactions. Philosophers Arnold and Bowie also stated that Mans must ensure the physical well-being of employees and refrain from undermining the development of their rational and moral capacities. As a recommendation, Mans should voluntarily eliminating practices that harm the public and ensuring minimal employee standards is even beneficial to the companies itself from an objectivism stance on ethics considering the bad rap of sweatshops.