When you buy your jeans...

Discussion in 'Soap Box' started by Prinnctopher's Belt, Apr 25, 2010.

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  1. Prinnctopher's Belt

    Prinnctopher's Belt Antiquities Friend SF Supporter

    Do you think about the workers who made them? Where were they made? What are the conditions the workers endure to manufacture them? How much are they paid? How long do they work? Do they get breaks? What are their ages?

    I was just watching a documentary on PBS about the conditions laborers in factories that make jeans in China have. The teenagers were working for 15-20 hours, with very limited breaks, four hours of sleep, sometimes one to two, they are charged for every minute they are late, don't get paid more for working overtime, and their minimum wage is not enough for them to eat and go home to their families. The workers live in dorms at the factory.

    The company's customers (buyers) are international, and have high demand, wanting high production for the least possible cost. Many factory owners end up settling with their customers for the low cost, and lower the workers' wages.

    Of course the owner and buyer make no great compromise with their own profits.
  2. Axiom

    Axiom Account Closed

    At that point I would think of where all these plastics are coming from. Where all my meat products are coming from and the means they are "produced". Id have to look at all my clothes, all my books, all the electrical components... the waste I leave behind in food and produce from casual driving. ect ect

    Honestly I don't look at it because I feel I would stop most things in my life and then begin to re-introduce things into my life in a extremely more balanced effort. But I don't have the money and time for that at the moment, so a cheap pair of jeans for me is .. I guess me enabeling human abuse.

    it's a shit storm Prinn, we've built up alot of our society through ignorance, though we are becoming alot more aware and adjusting. Reports like this didn't exsist 100 years ago so..

    Anyhow I think ive had the same pairs of jeans for over a year and a bit. I ususally get every bit out of them, not one for buying new things just because I can.
  3. KittyGirl

    KittyGirl Well-Known Member

    I've been taught by my mother to always appreciate the hard work and effort that goes into the things that I see and use-- so yeah, to a degree I do think about those things. I feel horrible that workers are treated badly; especially as a person who has the option to not work in places that I do not like... I have never worked a job where I feel very unappreciated or uncomfortable with my environment or co-workers... so I'm lucky when it comes to that.

    I've been buying vintage and used clothing for a long time now- and whenever I buy things new; I tend to look for things that are made/manufactured in Canada or the UK. I always feel a bit off when there's a 'made in china' 'made in mexico' label on it.
    People *do* have to make a living though... but they should be treated better and appreciated for the work that they do- no matter what.
  4. aoeu

    aoeu Well-Known Member

    One thing about that kind of documentary... There was that huge scandal a few years back about Nike's treatment of its workers, pointing out that by western standards they were really bad off. It completely ignored the fact that the workers thought the Nike "sweatshop" opening in their area was the best thing that ever happened to them.

    They are indeed working there voluntarily. I don't generally worry about it too much; if I boycott the brand the workers who aren't being paid much get paid nothing.
  5. shamps

    shamps Well-Known Member

    The way I see it is that as sad and horrible their situation is,if I didnt buy that pair of jeans somebody else would.If I thought for a second that my not buying one pair would make a huge difference for them id go ahead and just wear my knickers instead but im sorry to say yes we are becoming more aware but things like that will always happen.So I dont worry about it alot as we all have our own problems anyway.Plus the fact that its very rare I have the money spare for a pair of jeans and cant actually remember how long ago it was since I bought my last pair.
  6. lonercarrot

    lonercarrot Well-Known Member

    I'm happy that my buying jeans will maybe help some poor person have something to eat for a day. "Sweatshops" generally aren't as bad as westerners think they are. By our standards, sure, but it's wayyyy better than any other option the workers could otherwise have.
  7. Axiom

    Axiom Account Closed

    You don't honestly think that do you?
  8. lonercarrot

    lonercarrot Well-Known Member

    If you are talk to me, I do. Those workers can either have no job and earn no money or work in a "sweatshop". It's also true that while the working conditions are bad, they're not as horrible as some people imagine; with child slave labourers and whatnot.
  9. Prinnctopher's Belt

    Prinnctopher's Belt Antiquities Friend SF Supporter

    They generally are slave laborers. Sometimes, they go for months without getting paid.

    Sure. As long as it's "those workers" and not YOU, it's not a concern. It's acceptable. We all have known about this for many years, but actually seeing it happening brings it home.

    WORK HARD TODAY OR LOOK HARD FOR WORK TOMORROW = 20 hour shift without sleep, without pay, or bust.

    They really need some better labor law enforcement there to prevent this.
  10. aoeu

    aoeu Well-Known Member

    Be careful what you believe, PB. A documentary almost by definition has an angle, and can't be taken to be impartial. You call it slavery, but you also state they aren't forced to work there: therefore if they work there it's not slavery, but opportunity.
  11. Prinnctopher's Belt

    Prinnctopher's Belt Antiquities Friend SF Supporter

    There isn't a god damned fucking thing wrong with believing in better enforcement of labor laws. I didn't state shit else. You're one of those people who thinks it's acceptable when it's voluntary. You don't take into account of *why* people volunteer to do it, and that even though they do volunteer to *work for pay* they should be protected by laws that ensure their working conditions are acceptable for workers.

    Do you not believe in workers' rights?
  12. aoeu

    aoeu Well-Known Member

    You stated very clearly it's slavery.

    And, one of the problems with labour laws is that the company quite naturally would move to another country, thus depriving the "slaves" of the right to work.
  13. Zurkhardo

    Zurkhardo Well-Known Member

    There's merit to both arguments. I think Aoeu is coming from a pragmatic view, though I don't think I agree entirely. When PB speaking of slavery, he's talking about the conditions and treatment, which due amount to slavery. Technically speaking, it's not forced bondage, no; but when there is nothing else out there and companies, always seeking to cut costs, exploit that, it effectively is slavery. A lot of slavery comes with technical caveats like that (a common one is the 'paying off of debts' for someone's ancestors, which continues indefinitely).

    At the same time, by the standards of some of these developing countries, that sort of slave labor is deemed well-paying and stable, and there are few other options around. Many workers take to such work with enthusiasm, and some even question why bleeding hearts are speaking out on their behalf even though their perfectly happy. Does that mean it's right to give people the bare minimum of what they want, just because they're desperate for it? Ethically speaking, it isn't, especially since many of these workers are unaware of the better treatment they can receive - or are deprived of such rights in their home countries to begin with.
  14. Prinnctopher's Belt

    Prinnctopher's Belt Antiquities Friend SF Supporter

    "Right to work"? What is this "right to work"? Work for pay is a privilege.

    "You call it slavery, but you also state they aren't forced to work there"

    I did not state that "they aren't forced to work there". Your posts don't make any sense. Your opinion that these kinds of work conditions are acceptable is ignorant and stupid to me.
  15. Axiom

    Axiom Account Closed

    Just to butt in. As a western society, weve encouraged if not created these sweat shops by our demand for cheap products. Western culture is responsible for this particular implimentation of.. whats the definition,.. human abuse? Im not sure how to discribe it, it's definatly prying on the less fortunate and manipulating them. It boarders slavery to an extent but I don't think it specifically crosses it. Though, we have created a situation where there are no other avenues for these people. It's a choice of living your life in a sweat shop day in and day out for basically nothing or not having any means to support yourself or a family. It is an acceptable failure for humanity that the western culture has nurtured over the years. We cant very well remove this aspect from their culture because we have become aware of the immoral aspects of it. What we would be doing is removing this structural part and effectively cutting people off from their lifelines.
    We shouldn't be encouraging it, though because of how intergrated it is into the society, discouraging it to protect those being abused would more than likely have the opposite affect.

    Again it's a shit storm. We're left with the pieces of crap that our forefathers created and also, we're creating more in the process. What should we do?
    I donno, we honestly don't look after our own people to the standards we desire. All I know is that my moral high ground has no place in this instance, atleast not in refusing. Since we've fed and created it, we should someday find a suppliment. Thats what I think atleast. Or we could leave iraq :biggrin::blink:
  16. plates

    plates Well-Known Member

    PB might word his posts in a way that 'states' something, doesn't mean that people working in those conditions are doing it out of free will, and that the "opportunites" that they are given is helping them out of physical poverty.

    Do you honestly believe that labour laws would HARM the people working just because companies would have no choice but move?

    Since when has that level of suffering ever been a right?

    I live in a similar area, people working for very little who shop in stores where it's widely known that those products were made in sweatshops. It's affordable, and they are again, surviving on what they can. I shop from places like this too, not always but often. I think there are better ways to use your energy than avoiding stores, and that that kind of 'protest' adds to very little, and can be fashionable among a certain culture who are very image conscious but generally don't do or say anything much. It's also a privilege to go around shopping for vintage or ethically made clothing, because those shops are rare, can be expensive, especially if you live in a city like I do. I personally think charity shops are great things though, cos of the recycling thing.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2010
  17. plates

    plates Well-Known Member

    I know, it stinks of cultural imperialism doesn't it? I'm not sure if you've worked gruelling hours, and you don't need to do it in a sweatshop in a developing country, there are plenty of jobs in developed countries that are plenty harsh and risk one's health, but after a few years, you'll find your body/mind suffers, and that 'happiness' is pure survival.

    I think some people might be aware- depending on their location, if they talk around, and if they think- nah, this isn't enough, you don't need to be educated to say "this isn't enough." And what about the rights in developed countries- it might be better, but is it enough? What about people who are forced to work without protection, cos of immigration status?
  18. Theseus

    Theseus Well-Known Member

    I work a job that pays lower than it would in the West. Although not in a sweatshop.
    Yes, I think it's 'unfair' that sweatshop workers are exploited but without the foreign companies bringing business, those countries would be even poorer. They're basically going through the phase that the Western world went through 100 years ago with child labourers and young mine workers etc.
    I also find that a lot of people that protest globalization are only interested in keeping 'their jobs', as they say, in the country under the excuse of caring for the sweatshop workers. I don't mind people acting in their own self interest but I prefer they at least be honest about it. They're rarely interested in labour reform in the foreign countries and prefer that their government just ban corporations from doing business in those countries.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2010
  19. Zurkhardo

    Zurkhardo Well-Known Member

    I've been there, though perhaps nowhere near the level of some parts of the world. I'm not saying it's fun or easy, just that many people push themselves to do what the need to do to survive. Many people are content to have any means of work, rather than none at all, even if it is grueling.

    A lot of people just stay with what they have even if it isn't enough because it's better than nothing. As you said, it's all about survival. No, it isn't right, and no human being should have to scrap a living from almost nothing, regardless of where they live.
  20. Tomas

    Tomas Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure i understand why people allow themselves to be expoilted really, what's even stranger though is that immigrants here in England work very long hours for peanuts yet the unions and others who are supposed to look out for workers turn a blind eye to this.

    I don't think labour laws would do a great deal to help the situation.
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