Popular Science picks best inventions for 2014
CBS This Morning
Dave Mosher, projects editor for Popular Science, joins “CBS This Morning: Saturday” to share some of the year’s winning gadgets from the magazine’s annual Invention Awards.
However, how are our new “gadgets” primarily produced?:
Sweatshop (or sweat factory) is a pejorative term for a workplace that has socially unacceptable working conditions. The work may be difficult, dangerous or be paid a wage that is not commensurate. Workers in ‘sweatshops’ may work long hours for low pay, regardless of laws mandating overtime pay or a minimum wage; child labor laws may also be violated.
A sweatshop is a factory or workshop, especially in the clothing industry, where manual workers are employed at very low wages for long hours and under poor conditions.
More recently, the anti-globalization movement has arisen in opposition to corporate globalization, a process by which multinational corporations move their operations overseas in order to lower their costs and increase profits. The anti-sweatshop movement has much in common with the anti-globalization movement. Both consider sweatshops harmful, and both have accused many companies (such as the Walt Disney Company, The Gap, and Nike) of using sweatshops. Some in these movements charge that neoliberal globalization is similar to the sweating system, arguing that there tends to be a "race to the bottom", as multinationals leap from one low-wage country to another searching for lower production costs, in the same way that sweaters would have steered production to the lowest cost sub-contractor.
Various groups support or embody the anti-sweatshop movement today. The National Labor Committee brought sweatshops into the mainstream media in the 1990s when it exposed the use of sweatshop and child labor to sew Kathie Lee Gifford's Wal-Mart label. United Students Against Sweatshops is active on college campuses. The International Labor Rights Fund filed a lawsuit on behalf of workers in China, Nicaragua, Swaziland, Indonesia, and Bangladesh against Wal-Mart charging the company with knowingly developing purchasing policies particularly relating to price and delivery time that are impossible to meet while following the Wal-Mart code of conduct. Labor unions, such as the AFL-CIO, have helped support the anti-sweatshop movement out of concern both for the welfare of workers in the developing world and those in the United States.
Social critics complain that sweatshop workers often do not earn enough money to buy the products that they make, even though such items are often commonplace goods such as t-shirts, shoes, and toys. In 2003, Honduran garment factory workers were paid US$0.24 for each $50 Sean John sweatshirt, $0.15 for each long-sleeved t-shirt, and only five cents for each short-sleeved shirt – less than one-half of one percent of the retail price. Even comparing international costs of living, the $0.15 that a Honduran worker earned for the long-sleeved t-shirt was equal in purchasing power to $0.50 in the United States.
Anti-globalization proponents cite high savings, increased capital investment in developing nations, diversification of their exports and their status as trade ports as the reason for their economic success rather than sweatshops and cite the numerous cases in the East Asian "Tiger Economies" where sweatshops have reduced living standards and wages. They believe that better-paying jobs, increased capital investment and domestic ownership of resources will improve the economies of sub-Saharan Africa rather than sweatshops. They point to good labor standards developing strong manufacturing export sectors in wealthier sub-Saharan countries such as Mauritius and believe measures like these will improve economic conditions in developing nations.
Anti-globalization organizations argue that the minor gains made by employees of some of these institutions are outweighed by the negative costs such as lowered wages to increase profit margins and that the institutions pay less than the daily expenses of their workers. They also point to the fact that sometimes local jobs offered higher wages before trade liberalization provided tax incentives to allow sweatshops to replace former local unionized jobs. They further contend that sweatshop jobs are not necessarily inevitable. Eric Toussaint claims that quality of life in developing countries was actually higher between 1945 and 1980 before the international debt crisis of 1982 harmed economies in developing countries causing them to turn to IMF and World Bank-organized "structural adjustments" and that unionized jobs pay more than sweatshop ones overall – "several studies of workers producing for US firms in Mexico are instructive: workers at the Aluminum Company of America's Ciudad Acuna plant earn between $21.44 and $24.60 per week, but a weekly basket of basic food items costs $26.87. Mexican GM workers earn enough to buy a pound of apples in 30 minutes of work, while GM workers in the US earn as much in 5 minutes." People critical of sweatshops believe that "free trade agreements" do not truly promote free trade at all but instead seek to protect multinational corporations from competition by local industries (which are sometimes unionized). They believe free trade should only involve reducing tariffs and barriers to entry and that multinational businesses should operate within the laws in the countries they want to do business in rather than seeking immunity from obeying local environmental and labor laws. They believe these conditions are what give rise to sweatshops rather than natural industrialization or economic progression.
In some countries, such as China, it is not uncommon for these institutions to withhold workers' pay.
"According to labor organizations in Hong Kong, up to $365 million is withheld by managers who restrict pay in exchange for some service, or don't pay at all."
Furthermore, anti-globalization proponents argue that those in the West who defend sweatshops show double standards by complaining about sweatshop labor conditions in countries considered enemies or hostile by Western governments, while still gladly consuming their exports but complaining about the quality. They contend that multinational jobs should be expected to operate according to international labor and environmental laws and minimum wage standards like businesses in the West do.
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