Many companies are using sweat shops to manufacture their products at a much cheaper cost. However, there is a much deeper cost of using sweat shops then what can be placed in monetary value. I think it is time people begin to consider what sweat shops are doing to the people in this world and how dangerous they can be. Sweat shops may save companies money, but you do not want your company exposed on the news because your sweat shop in Bangladesh caught fire and killed 1,000 employees because fire safety regulations were not met.
Sweat shops are used to describe a subcontracting system where the middle man earns profits from the margin between what they were paid and what they paid out to their workers. That margin is referred to be sweated from the employees due to them receiving minimal pay, working long excessive hours, and in unsafe, hazardous working conditions. Companies will find smaller, poorer countries that have little to no regulations as far as safety and pay go to establish these sweat shops in. They pay their employees as much in a month as what many of us would make in a day. They are also forced to work extensively long hours in conditions that are extremely hazardous to their health.
There are a high number of easily preventable deaths every year due to these sweat shops not meeting safety and health regulations. The contractors and managers of these establishments are also notorious for being highly abusive to their employees both mentally and physically. They would also target women and children for employment in sweat shops as they were manipulated much more easily than men. Also, they were much less likely to retaliate against the managers. Sweat shops often force people into working in these conditions. The people have no choice but to do so as they have families to take care of and without these sweat shops work would be placed elsewhere leaving them without any work at all.
Many companies, especially in the clothing industry, are using these sweat shops to increase profits, lower cost to customer, and compete with other companies. Consumers still buy into the product regardless that it is made in such a dangerous environment where people lose their lives. There was an approximate total of 1,500 sweat shop garment worker deaths in 2012. However, companies are still using sweat shops because it does not affect the consumer’s choice to buy their product, their prices are decreased, and they are selling more product.
Larger corporations and companies in other countries have paved the way for sweat shops. Other companies are beginning to play a hand in this as they are looking for ways to compete with the companies already doing so. Companies in other countries can easily influence other companies into placing sweat shops in their locations due to minimum safety and labor law requirements.
Consumers should seriously consider researching the products you use and determining where they come from, how they were made, and what type of environment were they made in. Consumers should then stop purchasing items made from those companies using sweat shops to produce their product. Do you really think the shirt your wearing was worth 1,500 people dying in 2012? Laws should also be implemented that hold these companies responsible for these workers wages and working conditions.
It is the contractor’s responsibility to do this so companies can easily hide behind these contractors. By enforcing these laws we would significantly reduce this problem. Companies still may chose to manufacture their product in another country but those workers would now be receiving adequate pay along with a safe work environment without the long, extensive hours. In 1999, California passed Assembly Bill 633, which is a law that holds garment manufacturers and retailers responsible for employee wages and safety.
I think it is understandable why companies chose to do this as they are trying to save money, however this can still be done without the use of sweat shops. Products can still be manufactured at a lower cost in other countries without forcing employees to work for inadequate pay and in unsafe conditions working long exhausting hours. Major retailers could really get the ball rolling for reducing the amount of sweat shops used. Smaller companies and the competition would no longer have to resort to sweat shops if they were able to compete with these major corporations that do use them.
So, we should keep in mind next time we are clothes shopping at the mall. We should consider what products may have resulted in someone losing their life to manufacture. It’s true, sweat shops reduce costs. However, like I said at the beginning of this paper, it is a cost that cuts much deeper than anything that can be placed into monetary value.
Courtney from Study Moose
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