“Outsourcing, China and Wal-Mart”
Wal-Mart, an American corporation boasting “Everyday Low Prices” has expanded and outsourced to include the employment of foreign labor and suppliers to meet their corporation’s demands. In doing this, there are several benefits to utilizing cheap Chinese labor. By using Chinese factory labor, the Wal-Mart Corporation is able to provide goods at low prices, increasing their appeal to the consumer. Also, by using cheap labor in other countries, Wal-Mart expands their corporation worldwide, including opening stores in those countries where the company employs cheap, foreign labor. By using Chinese labor, Wal-Mart is able to maximize its corporation’s profits overseas to the United States, where the price range is much higher.
In addition, Wal-Mart’s use of foreign labor benefits the poor, foreign countries, such as China, who seek overseas companies to provide jobs and increase their countries’ capita of export. While there are a number of benefits to utilizing Chinese labor, there are numerous amounts of drawbacks. The consumers of Wal-Mart do not approve of the exploitation of the cheap foreign labor, as the conditions and reality of the factory worker’s’ employment and treatment by the factories that produce goods for Wal-Mart are brought to the public’s eye. Also, Wal-Mart, in utilizing Chinese labor, has outsourced many work opportunities for Americans to China. In addition, Wal-Mart depends heavily on Chinese suppliers, allowing Wal-Mart’s supply to become vulnerable to the consequences of fluctuation in the Chinese market and economy.
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Wal-Mart provides deplorable working and living conditions for its workers, including the young women of the factory performing mechanical tasks, such as assembling circuit boards without the use of safety gloves and working long shifts in airless, hot sweatshops without fans. Also, Wal-Mart provides a dormitory for its workers to live in, with the option that you can choose to live elsewhere. However, even if a factory worker elects to live elsewhere, the cost of rent and utilities will still be deducted from his paycheck, in addition to paying rent where he resides. Read also "Is WalMart good for America" essay
This example of control over the factory workers highlights the unfair conditions they are subjected to, without any control over, if they wish to maintain their job. The Wal-Mart corporation knows that the conditions provided and the environment do not meet regulations, and yet continue to allow them to continue. The factory workers are intimidated and coerced to lie about their conditions to inspectors when prompted. These include, but not limited to, forcing a seven day work week, while legally allowing only a maximum of six, and forging pay slips to reflect a fairer wage than what is paid to the workers.
The Chinese factory workers realize that their living situation is unfair, but are not allowed to complain or take proactive measure against Wal-Mart’s treatment of its factory employees, silenced by the threat that they will be fired if they do not lie thoroughly enough to inspectors with a false truth crafted by the heads of the factory to blind the inspectors to the reality of the factory worker’s plight. Upon knowing of the conditions in these Chinese sweatshops international organizations endeavor to improve conditions for factory workers and expose the reality of the factories’ practices.
The article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution details international activist groups’ attempt to regulate unfair labor practices. Activist groups, such as the China Labor Watch, strive to improve conditions for Chinese factory workers. In the article, it states, “China Labor Watch, a New York-based nonprofit watchdog group, issued a report stating that several Chinese suppliers to Wal-Mart routinely fail to pay wages and provide health insurance as required by Chinese law.” It is the mission of the China Labor Watch, among many other advocacy groups, to defend the workers right through research and advocacy, providing assistance and raising awareness.
However, these activist groups are not very effective. Despite international organizations efforts to improve conditions, many of the conditions and practiced of Chinese factories go unnoticed and undocumented, in part due to unscrupulous record keeping on behalf of the factory, such as forging a falsified book of records to show inspectors. However, journalists and reporters have been successful in investigating and releasing articles, photographs, and video footage of the factory conditions, enlightening the world to the truth, hoping to gain public recognition of the illegal practices and garnering support to counter them. To improve labor conditions for the Chinese workers, I, as the consumer, would boycott the Wal-Mart corporation and not purchase their products manufactured in Chinese sweatshops.
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I will choose instead to purchase products from corporations who utilize fair labor practices. The retail industry is a consumer driven industry; the reactions of the consumers will affect the corporation, including their supply and production practices. I would also lend my support to the international organizations, such as the China Labor Watch, in promoting awareness of the unfair treatment of Chinese laborers who do not have the protection of a fair union.
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