Corporate and Consumer Responsibilities

Knowledge claim: The decisions made by corporations and consumers are guided towards benefiting the livelihoods’ of the workers in sweatshops. As companies grow larger and more competitive, they are looking for cheaper ways to produce their wares and increase their profit. That is, after all, how companies are able to succeed, by giving their customers a comparable product for a cheaper price. This increases sales and the bottom line is that it is a beneficial plan for both the companies and the consumers.

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The places that produce these products for an extremely cheap cost are called “Sweatshops”. A sweatshop is a small manufacturing establishment in which employees work long hours under substandard conditions for low wages. Sweatshops came about when employers sought to reduce overhead costs and to increase the volume of production. Companies aim to maximize profits, while consumers act as individuals, searching for the lowest price and best quality.

The increasing competition in the global trade has lead to the creation of sweatshops around the world. This is beneficial for the consumers who can purchase products cheaper. There are limitations to what the consumers know and care about when they are shopping. When most people shop, the criteria for consuming usually comes down to a compromise between price and quality, little ethical consideration appears to occur.

Consumers don’t care about exploitation – they are selfish; perhaps they do care but have no choice, as all company’s products have similar ethical problems; perhaps they do care and some products are more ethical than others, but information isn’t readily available to document this; or they do care, but feel constrained themselves (by time or money, for example) and so must consider their own needs first; or maybe they’re simply not aware that exploitation exists, or are unable to make the link between their own consumption and the processes required to get a product to market.

While they may care about the quality of life for the workers there are also looking out for themselves. The growing dominance of trade has pushed companies to focus on whatever advantages they might need to remain globally competitive. The critics of sweatshops and human rights activists argue that these factories cause problems for the workers later in the worker’s life. Occasionally these problems lead to death. These problems are not beneficial to the workers and, as a result we have problems with the methods of justification.

Many workers do not get to see a doctor when they are ill. Workers choose to go work to make money rather than see a doctor. Most do not receive regular vaccinations that help their body fight against problems such as, smallpox, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, and diphtheria. Many of these sweatshops do not pay their workers the right amount. For example in Bangladesh and Myanmar, they pay ten to eighteen cents; in China, Pakistan, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia they pay twenty to sixty-eight cents per hour.

The implications of the sweatshops are that it takes advantage of less developed countries by violating human right by building sweatshops. Human rights activists argue that sweatshops are taking advantage by paying employees less than the minimum wage, and treat their workers inhumanely by forcing them to work in unsafe conditions and violates labor standards. For example, the conditions of the factories are not safe for anyone to work in. The factories are not kept clean, so many workers contract diseases making it easier for anyone to become ill.

The chemicals used in the factory give off many fumes, which make people sick. Many workers become ill and are not able to go home. In conclusion I believe it is the employer’s main objective is to sell as much of the product as they can, the factories hire many people to get more of their product produced. The more workers they hire, the less the money they are willing to give their workers. And the consumers are looking out for themselves ahead of all else, in the end the corporations and the consumers benefit workers only because and only to extent that is profitable to do so.