Linked by David Adams on Wed 17th Dec 2008 17:15 UTC, submitted by Michael
In the News In a muckraking Spiegel.de article, suppliers to well-known computer manufacturers are accused of mistreating workers and violating Chinese labor law: "According to a Hong-Kong based human rights organization, working hours total up to 370 hours per month, workers aren't receiving the legal minimum wage and in the run-up to Christmas, days off are cut out entirely." One of the reasons that high tech hardware has become so widespread and useful is because it's so inexpensive. As this article demonstrates, this affordability can come at a price.
Order by: Score:
shit happens
by evert on Wed 17th Dec 2008 17:38 UTC
evert
Member since:
2005-07-06

Not buying from those companies will most likely result in 1) less work hours of 2) less jobs. Both cases would be hard for people who obviously need the money - otherwise, they would take another job.

I prefer inside pressure (strikes and so on). Maybe the Chinese gov. can do something. External pressure from the West can be counterproductive.

Reply Score: 3

RE: shit happens
by red_devel on Wed 17th Dec 2008 17:46 UTC in reply to "shit happens"
red_devel Member since:
2006-03-30

Whatever lets you sleep at night buddy, but the only way they can get away with it is because we buy this stuff! In the West, we have built up a lifestyle that we enjoy, and we have done it based on prices that are only possible because the stuff is being made by people being mistreated, under payed, and living very poorly in comparison. 20% of the world's population owns 80% of the world's resources. Somewhere on the order of 30,000 people starve to death every day. There is enough food in the world for everyone to eat over 2600 calories a day.

The only reason people starve is because we let them. Because we let borders and petty conflicts and our own selfish desire to live well supersede the well being of our brothers and sisters around the world. And when someone writes an article like this that makes us uncomfortable, we tell ourselves crap like that: "Oh, its more complicated than that, see." Yeah, because we make it. There is no justice in the world. And everyone in the West, living well and bitching about a "bad economy" is guilty, the first person on that list being me.

Reply Score: 14

RE[2]: shit happens
by evangs on Wed 17th Dec 2008 18:14 UTC in reply to "RE: shit happens"
evangs Member since:
2005-07-07

Somewhere on the order of 30,000 people starve to death every day.


And they come from countries where the tyranical dictator who runs the local scene lives in lavish style. But whatever right? It's always the fault of the West. They are either too interventionist or not interventionist enough -.-

Reply Score: 9

RE[3]: shit happens
by Soulbender on Wed 17th Dec 2008 18:23 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: shit happens"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

And they come from countries where the tyranical dictator who runs the local scene lives in lavish style.


Dude, we're not talking about the U.S.A.

Reply Score: 9

RE[4]: shit happens
by evangs on Wed 17th Dec 2008 18:26 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: shit happens"
evangs Member since:
2005-07-07

If you truly think that, I suggest you go live in China/Zimbabwe for a year.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: shit happens
by Soulbender on Wed 17th Dec 2008 18:28 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: shit happens"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

A bit defensive, aren't we?

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: shit happens
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Wed 17th Dec 2008 18:32 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: shit happens"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Not always dictator related. Although that is a common element. Sometimes a country is just poor, had no natural resources or industries, poor soil, and is hit by a drought or some other natural disaster.

Don't let blame get in the way of doing the right thing, unless you want the world to look like New Orleans post Katrina.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: shit happens
by wanderingk88 on Wed 17th Dec 2008 19:39 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: shit happens"
wanderingk88 Member since:
2008-06-26

And most of times it's the US backing such dictators.

Go read a book on history.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: shit happens
by christianhgross on Thu 18th Dec 2008 21:44 UTC in reply to "RE: shit happens"
christianhgross Member since:
2005-11-15

Did you happen to read the article?

>>>
Chan argues that the long working hours violate Chinese law. In addition to the normal 40-hour workweek, Chinese law stipulates that a maximum of 36 hours of overtime can be worked each month. She claims that, in many cases, workers at Excelsior have to work up to 174 hours of overtime. During rush periods, especially before the European Christmas shopping season, days off are cut out entirely. Employees at Excelsior must then work seven days a week, the study claims.
<<<

These computer makers are violating the law! Excuse me, but this is not a problem of the West. This is a Chinese problem because Chinese law has clearly said "hey this is not right."

Actually my bigger question is how come the spiegel is talking about this in this context! They should be showing these violations to the government and getting the government to act.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: shit happens
by melkor on Sat 20th Dec 2008 08:16 UTC in reply to "RE: shit happens"
melkor Member since:
2006-12-16

You are, of course, correct. Unfortunately, man is greedy and money is more important that people. I find it amazing that slavery in the US is outlawed, by US companies are the biggest abusers of slave wages & conditions outside of the US.

Dave

Reply Score: 2

RE: shit happens
by DrillSgt on Wed 17th Dec 2008 17:47 UTC in reply to "shit happens"
DrillSgt Member since:
2005-12-02

"I prefer inside pressure (strikes and so on). Maybe the Chinese gov. can do something. External pressure from the West can be counterproductive."

I agree. The west should stay out of this one. Though, as for the government of China, they condone this type of thing. I would expect it to be ignored.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: shit happens
by red_devel on Wed 17th Dec 2008 17:53 UTC in reply to "RE: shit happens"
red_devel Member since:
2006-03-30

Hahahaha, strikes and stuff. Thats hilarious. Strikes only work if they're allowed, and if you can afford to survive a day without the pay, and if there aren't an army of other people willing to take the job 'cause they're starving too. What a naive and ridiculous comment. You clearly have no understanding of the breadth and depth of the human rights violations that occur in China. Probably because most of the West has decided to ignore it so we can keep buying cheap crap.

Reply Score: 6

RE[3]: shit happens
by DrillSgt on Wed 17th Dec 2008 18:03 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: shit happens"
DrillSgt Member since:
2005-12-02

"What a naive and ridiculous comment. You clearly have no understanding of the breadth and depth of the human rights violations that occur in China."

You're right, I do not have a clue on it, as I do not live there. What I do know is that most of the factories and such are government run. What I do know is that it is a way of life for them. Don't forget either if you really want to do something, get rid of your credit cards and bank accounts. Some of the biggest banks are owned/run by Chinese interests, at least in the US. Human Rights violations appear everywhere sadly. If you feel that strongly then by all means petition the Government of China to stop doing it.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: shit happens
by red_devel on Wed 17th Dec 2008 18:12 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: shit happens"
red_devel Member since:
2006-03-30

As I said in my very first post in this thread, I am first on the list of people who's lifestyle supports this kind of stuff. I'm probably wearing a couple things made in China, and you're right about my credit cards, etc...

My point is that, first, when we read a story like this our reaction shouldn't be something as ignorant as "Shit Happens" and "Let them strike or get a new job if they don't like it". That is ridiculous, that is naive, and it is insulting to them. My second point would be that Western governments shouldn't tolerate this kind of stuff from China, and we should all be doing everything we can to see it stopped. But we don't, and we won't, cause we want cheap crap. So we say, as you have, Oh how sad this is, but it happens everywhere, nothing I can do about it, and that's wrong.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: shit happens
by sdeber on Wed 17th Dec 2008 20:29 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: shit happens"
sdeber Member since:
2005-07-06

BTW, Bush is trying to 'help' people in Iraq and to bring them democracy, why don't you do the same thing to China? Or at least, try to convince Bush to do it.

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: shit happens
by h3rman on Wed 17th Dec 2008 20:34 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: shit happens"
h3rman Member since:
2006-08-09

Are you joking?

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: shit happens
by wannabe geek on Thu 18th Dec 2008 00:22 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: shit happens"
wannabe geek Member since:
2006-09-27

As I said in my very first post in this thread, I am first on the list of people who's lifestyle supports this kind of stuff. I'm probably wearing a couple things made in China, and you're right about my credit cards, etc...

[..] But we don't, and we won't, cause we want cheap crap. So we say, as you have, Oh how sad this is, but it happens everywhere, nothing I can do about it, and that's wrong.


Well, don't worry too much about that, because it's not likely to last much longer, at least according to Peter Schiff. Go to youtube and search "Dollar Collapse - America, A Country Living On IOU's - Peter Schiff -Part 1 - America Is Finished" or follow this link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1V5iu715rc&feature=related

If you are wondering who this guy is and why would someone listen to him, search "Peter Schiff was right", or go here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8r-nDBx5Jg

As many other followers of the Austrian school of economics, he correctly and accurately predicted the current crisis, as well as the housing bubble and the dot com bubble. They don't blame the lack of regulation of the markets, but exactly the opposite, the interventionist, Keynesian policies of credit expansion by the US Federal Reserve. Similar causes, say the Austrians, lie behind the 1929 crack and virtually all boom-bust economic cycles ever since, which are NOT a natural behavior of a real free market economy.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: shit happens
by h3rman on Thu 18th Dec 2008 09:43 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: shit happens"
h3rman Member since:
2006-08-09


As many other followers of the Austrian school of economics, he correctly and accurately predicted the current crisis, as well as the housing bubble and the dot com bubble.


So did other, non-"Austrian" economists, such as Michael Hudson. Also search for Max Keiser, lots of fun now and then to see him commenting on a.o. Al Jazeera English.

They don't blame the lack of regulation of the markets, but exactly the opposite, the interventionist, Keynesian policies of credit expansion by the US Federal Reserve.


1) There is nothing "Keynesian" about what the Fed has been doing in the past decades;
2) The reason the crisis is so bad this time is partly because of Clinton having killed the Glass-Steagall regulations.

Similar causes, say the Austrians, lie behind the 1929 crack


No, that was because of a very similar credit bubble on the stock market. There was very little regulation at the time.

and virtually all boom-bust economic cycles ever since, which are NOT a natural behavior of a real free market economy.


"Boom-bust" cycles are caused not by regulation or deregulation, but by the monetary system (fractional reserve banking and compound interest).

While Peter Schiff is completely right about the debt and the balance of payments deficit, and about America's overconsumption and huge indebtedness, he pays little attention to America's free ride as explained by America's top financial economist, Michael Hudson, in Global Fracture and Superimperialism.

Reply Score: 4

RE[7]: shit happens
by wannabe geek on Thu 18th Dec 2008 13:52 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: shit happens"
wannabe geek Member since:
2006-09-27

"
As many other followers of the Austrian school of economics, he correctly and accurately predicted the current crisis, as well as the housing bubble and the dot com bubble.


So did other, non-"Austrian" economists, such as Michael Hudson. Also search for Max Keiser, lots of fun now and then to see him commenting on a.o. Al Jazeera English.

"

That may be the case, but my point is that mainstream economists, following Keynesian reasonings and terminology, massively failed to predict it. This is the most interesting aspect of "Peter Schiff was right" videos.



" They don't blame the lack of regulation of the markets, but exactly the opposite, the interventionist, Keynesian policies of credit expansion by the US Federal Reserve.


1) There is nothing "Keynesian" about what the Fed has been doing in the past decades;

"

I disagree. From the Wikipedia definition of Keynesianism:

"According to Keynesian economics the state should stimulate economic growth and improve stability in the private sector - through, for example, interest rates, taxation and public projects."

All this talk about "stimulating the economy", "avoiding deflation" and lowering the interest rates as a medicine for the economic crisis, the belief that a little bit of inflation is good for the economy, are all Keynesian tenets. They are not facts all economists agree about.



2) The reason the crisis is so bad this time is partly because of Clinton having killed the Glass-Steagall regulations.



Well, there's much truth to that, and many Austrians agree, but then it's no surprise that some particular piece of "deregulation" can be harmful in a massively regulated and intervened market, where this particular regulation at best mitigated the abuse of some privileges that should have never been conceded in the first place:

http://mises.org/story/3098

"The Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 would make perfect sense in a world regulated by a gold standard, 100% reserve banking, and no FDIC deposit insurance; but in the world as it is, this "deregulation" amounts to corporate welfare for financial institutions and a moral hazard that will make taxpayers pay dearly."






"Similar causes, say the Austrians, lie behind the 1929 crack


No, that was because of a very similar credit bubble on the stock market. There was very little regulation at the time.

"
"a very similar credit bubble on the stock market", exactly. Your explanation coincides with mine and the Austrians' in everything, except, maybe, on who is to blame for the credit bubble (central banks, that is, the government).

There was quite a bit of regulation back then, but most importantly, central banking is all the regulation that's needed for this kind of disaster. Panicked interventionism did the rest and led to the Great Depression.


" and virtually all boom-bust economic cycles ever since, which are NOT a natural behavior of a real free market economy.


"Boom-bust" cycles are caused not by regulation or deregulation, but by the monetary system (fractional reserve banking and compound interest).

"
Yes, as you say, fractional reserve banking lies behind the boom-bust cycles, but what makes them huge and nation-wide is central banking. Otherwise there would be a bank run here and there, but most banks would act responsibly for their own sake, as an excess of credit expansion would lead to a quick depletion of the bank's reserves, and most people would diversify their choice of banks for their savings.


While Peter Schiff is completely right about the debt and the balance of payments deficit, and about America's overconsumption and huge indebtedness, he pays little attention to America's free ride as explained by America's top financial economist, Michael Hudson, in Global Fracture and Superimperialism.


I'll take a look at that. But Schiff talks quite a lot about America's "free ride", even if it's from a slightly different angle.



[/q]

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: shit happens
by jimbofluffy on Fri 19th Dec 2008 03:13 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: shit happens"
jimbofluffy Member since:
2008-07-15

2) The reason the crisis is so bad this time is partly because of Clinton having killed the Glass-Steagall regulations.


GS is such a buzz word these days. There is no good argument that connects GS's repeal to the current crisis whatsoever. Now getting rid of the up-tick rule, that was a really bad idea and did allow hedge funds to do a lot of damage.

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: shit happens
by melkor on Sat 20th Dec 2008 08:43 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: shit happens"
melkor Member since:
2006-12-16

Thanks for the links!

Dave

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: shit happens
by jlarocco on Wed 17th Dec 2008 20:05 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: shit happens"
jlarocco Member since:
2005-09-14

Well what exactly is your plan then?

Assume everybody in "the west" stops buying things made in China. Millions of Chinese lose their jobs, and then what?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: shit happens
by fithisux on Thu 18th Dec 2008 07:23 UTC in reply to "RE: shit happens"
fithisux Member since:
2006-01-22

"I prefer inside pressure (strikes and so on). Maybe the Chinese gov. can do something. External pressure from the West can be counterproductive."

I agree. The west should stay out of this one. Though, as for the government of China, they condone this type of thing. I would expect it to be ignored.


I agree, don't buy Chinese products "The west should stay out of this one" this is the right thing to do, justice. But wait the companies who rule the West do not agree and we as loyal slaves follow them and make other people slaves for the companies (we are not better). The prices are low because they work under inhuman conditions. This is a pseudo-dilemma, if they could get reasonable (and not legal, anther pseudo-dilemma)wages, prices could remain low, but companies are greedy and want high profit margins. We are cannibals and we are paying for this. Enough is enough, corporates betaryed nations by moving their manufacturing plants to China and have given rise to unemployment. Do you think they did it because they care? The main problem is that they were looking for slaves in Europe/America but they could not find. If China decides not to provide slaves what do you think will happen? Take your time to think about it.

Reply Score: 3

RE: shit happens
by Ben Jao Ming on Wed 17th Dec 2008 18:03 UTC in reply to "shit happens"
Ben Jao Ming Member since:
2005-07-26

Not buying from those companies will most likely result in 1) less work hours of 2) less jobs. Both cases would be hard for people who obviously need the money - otherwise, they would take another job.


By buying something from these countries or practicing our usual over-consumption, we silently ignore the problems and participate in the acceptance of poor working conditions.

China (government and companies) isn't stupid. If it turns out that Western consumers don't want their products because they mistreat their workers, then China will act in one way or the other... I'm not being naive. You are, by stating that we're basically just helping their economy. We've been 'helping' foreign economies grow ever since Columbus.

So go and consume wisely, vote wisely and do whatever other duty that's implied by your world citizenship.

Reply Score: 7

RE[2]: shit happens
by red_devel on Wed 17th Dec 2008 18:20 UTC in reply to "RE: shit happens"
red_devel Member since:
2006-03-30

By buying something from these countries or practicing our usual over-consumption, we silently ignore the problems and participate in the acceptance of poor working conditions.


Thank you, thank you, for a word of truth. I was starting to feel sick to my stomach and was worrying that everyone on this site was really that simple minded and selfish.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: shit happens
by WorknMan on Wed 17th Dec 2008 21:11 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: shit happens"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

By buying something from these countries or practicing our usual over-consumption, we silently ignore the problems and participate in the acceptance of poor working conditions.

Thank you, thank you, for a word of truth. I was starting to feel sick to my stomach and was worrying that everyone on this site was really that simple minded and selfish.


I suppose there is a handy list somewhere on the web of every company that has plants in China with inhuman working conditions. So, every time I go to buy a piece of electronics, a t-shirt, or whatever else, I could check this list and buy from one of their competitors that aren't guilty of these things (assuming there are any who aren't). Then I could write letters to all these companies and tell them why I didn't buy from them.

To those of you who came here to voice your dissatisfaciton about the situation, are you going to be willing to do the above? Yeah, me neither. I suppose you can find 1001 different reasons to boycott these companies, but I have decided that the only way I am going to boycott one of them is if they end up screwing me over personally. (For example, Time Warner is currently on my sh*tlist for a bait and switch move they tried with a special offer for digital cable.) Otherwise, I might as well just move into a log cabin in the woods, because if I refused to do business with companies who were up to no good, I wouldn't be able to purchase anything.

If something is going to change in this regard, it has to be from the people who are being mistreated. Their problems are not mine, and vice versa. As soon as they refuse to not work for those wages, then the companies are going to pack up shop and relocate to another country where people will.

Perhaps the US government should step in and do something about this, but don't sit there and try to make me feel guilty about it, especially if you're not doing the above. It's easy to come on the web and talk sh*t about what 'people' should be doing, but if you're not walking the walk, you need to STFU.

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: shit happens
by Ben Jao Ming on Thu 18th Dec 2008 17:55 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: shit happens"
Ben Jao Ming Member since:
2005-07-26

OK, I'll STFU. Thanks for this enlightening post. I will now stop caring and leave everything to the politicians, because the only alternative is to live in a cabin in the woods.

Btw..
http://www.google.com/search?q=Guangdong+employer+blacklist

And for a similar case, there's the Greenpeace Guide To Greener Electronics:

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/toxics/electronic...

A nice thing to do, presuming that you want an easy way to care is to support international labor organizations.

http://www.laborrights.org/

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: shit happens
by wanderingk88 on Wed 17th Dec 2008 19:42 UTC in reply to "RE: shit happens"
wanderingk88 Member since:
2008-06-26

Worst of it all isn't that China is some sort of communist hell or something like that--it's been actually the capitalists' paradise for a few decades now. Absolutely no restrictions on the market at all.

And guess from where comes 90% of the capital invested in China?

From the US.

Reply Score: 1

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Can you imagine how lax the laws are?

I think for extreme cases of worker abuse such as this, it would better behoove us to purchase goods from factories that are following the laws.

But, yes in some sense you are correct with less egregious violations in third world manufacturing. This, however, is in another category altogether.

Reply Score: 1

Globalization effect
by acobar on Wed 17th Dec 2008 18:28 UTC
acobar
Member since:
2005-11-15

May be, it will sound a bit silly or just plain stupid, but I believe that things like that are a side effect of the wild globalization effect we experienced in last decades.

Lots of "poor" countries were, and still are, competing to attract companies by offering low cost labor, neglecting the most basic human safety conditions and workers rights to be competitive. Even when western companies don't own the facilities they love the price and go for it, usually closing or reducing their fabs on other places. As a direct effect, it lower the power of labor unions and the seek for better work conditions.

There are a lot of discussion about how the consumers see the benefit of the price reduction, but I get myself asking more and more what is the effect of this in the long run. We all know that there is no free lunch and, perhaps, we will find a very important component of the big crisis on USA, Europe and other countries as a consequence of allowing companies to pursue the "easy" money with almost no control.

Not that I am against let jobs go to "less healthy" places but, for sure, we need to respect not only our own workers on our own countries but also the basic ideals we have about humans beings prior to let it happen. This way we would also contribute to promote an improved life quality at all places.

Unluckily, there are too many greedy humans out in companies and financial institutions. Legislators, bring on more restrictive laws.

Reply Score: 6

Comment by miles
by miles on Wed 17th Dec 2008 19:09 UTC
miles
Member since:
2006-06-15

The manufacturers like Fujitsu, Dell, Sony (all mentioned in the article), and others are the main responsible.

Companies yearly send inspectors to check the factories abide by the law, and it's really easy to see when human rights aren't respected (a friend of mine worked as a translator for these inspections, and the inspector did a good job spotting the problems, which wasn't hard at all). So all these companies already know the situation (and if they were to stop sending inspectors now, that would be for an obvious reason...).

In these case they can break their contracts, or threaten to do so, even leaving lots of products unpaid. The factory has zero interest ignoring the requests, since they can loose huge amount of money (and any other factory would be happy to get the contracts). Overtime hours, unpaid salary all only go in a few pockets, it's not so much a necessity for low cost production as it is to make a few people richer.

So yes, there's a message that can be sent by consumers. The same companies that actively search for means to reach you with their publicity care also about your opinion and their own image (Dell even has an Ideastorm, but they all have a forum). So it only cost an email, then a copy/paste in one of the manufacturer public forums.

Edited 2008-12-17 19:12 UTC

Reply Score: 4

How it really works
by h3rman on Wed 17th Dec 2008 21:36 UTC
h3rman
Member since:
2006-08-09

Some people say, “if we stop consuming the stuff they produce, they’ll be even worse off.”

That’s completely incorrect. That point of view originates in a total lack of understanding (quite understandable in itself, given the abysmal quality of economic education in the Western world) of the world economy as it works today.

(read more:

http://yelamdenu.blogsome.com/2008/12/17/the-free-ride-of-the-usa-o...
)

Reply Score: 3

Really?
by jefro on Wed 17th Dec 2008 22:07 UTC
jefro
Member since:
2007-04-13

Prison labor and total lack of environmental controls is bad?

Reply Score: 1

fair trade
by jonas.kirilla on Thu 18th Dec 2008 08:40 UTC
jonas.kirilla
Member since:
2005-07-11

I think we need something akin to Fair Trade labelling:
http://www.fairtrade.net/generic_standards.html

Of course electronics are more complex products than e.g. coffee, in terms of steps from natural resources to finished goods, in level of investment, in how many people and commercial entities are involved, etc, but surely it would be possible for these giant corps to create a fair trade framework.

Reply Score: 3