After the Dispatches feature on UK sweatshops supplying clothes for the High Street, the average consumer is more conscientious of where their good are coming from. Primark were amongst one of the High Street shops that had to redeem their reputation of being a fair employer and for not exploiting their employees. It’s led to the influx of fairtrade goods on sale in supermarkets, as awareness grew.
But how about the electronics industry. The same trend is happening now, where the cost of production is reducing to meet the growing demand for phones, computer, games consoles- anything electronic that uses a microprocessor. To obviously make this technology affordable for everyone, cost cutting exercises have to be made somewhere.
And this is when Foxconn, a subordinate company of Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry comes under scrutiny. With 13 suicides, nets in place and 100 mental health workers now places on site there is definitely a question of abuse of human rights when looking at the working conditions in Foxconn.
However, the suicide rate is roughly 17 for every 100,000 people. The highest estimate of employees working in Longhua, Shenzhen is 450,000 people therefore lower than the suicide rate in China. Although suicide does occur, it is well within the national rate and does not conclude that Foxconn are absuing their employees.
This leads me on to sweatshops, and unethical working conditions. This is going to be rather a high-level comment on the issue and I will return to this at a later date. But we should really consider the alternative of no work in which will imply no money for the employees of these sweatshops. The implementations of not having any income is worst when the standard of living is so low. What does irritate me however, is the fact that a piece of clothing that make have cost around a pound to produce is sold for £20 minimum, which is 2000% mark up and £19 profit. Profiteering so much as a trade off to someone else’s well being is beyond greed. Personally I’m happy to pay £20 as long as I know the person made it was paid at least minimum wage.
We should generally learn that buying local and producing locally is the best way to ensure that all employees and consumers are treated fairly, and all transactions remain as transparent as possible by all parties.