Nike is a powerless corporation that really has very little freedom for maneuver. So feel sympathy for Nike. Maybe help them out by buying a pair of shoes.
SUKABUMI, Indonesia ó Workers making Converse sneakers in Indonesia say supervisors throw shoes at them, slap them in the face and call them dogs and pigs.
Dog and horse lovers are of course incensed to read this. Why speak pejoratively of dogs and horses by comparing them to the the lowest status human workers? How about a Western social movement to stop the pejorative usage of names for other species? These supervisors could make other choices. Why not compare the workers to inanimate objects? Or perhaps to other workers of even lower status? Surely, 25 cent per hour worker exists and these Indonesian workers could be insulted by comparison with them.
Nike, the brandís owner, admits that such abuse has occurred among the contractors that make its hip high-tops but says there was little it could do to stop it.
Really, if you need to use the lowest cost workers possible you've got to use workers who have no legal protections at all. Also, the workers should be desperate for work. This is the only way to maximize profit margins. Nike has few choices to make that would not cut into profits. Poor Nike. To be fair: Nike says it has old contracts to licensees over which it has limited leverage. But it could bribe licensees to modify contracts. Oh wait, my bad. That would cut into profits.
Of course, there's an upside to this sort of story: If you a poor American but can still afford a pair of shoes that costs the equivalent of a couple hundred hours of Indonesian labor then by wearing Converse shoes you can advertise your ability to figuratively walk over lots of people even poorer and lower status than you are.
In the article they say at one plant the workers make 50 cents an hour, which leaves little left over after paying food and bunkhouse-type lodging (Malthusian Trap anyone?). This seems like a symptom of a deeper problem: too many people. Imagine people practiced more birth control. I expect pay and working conditions would improve. Mary Ellen Harte and Anne Ehrlich say overpopulation is the root problem. Jeremy Grantham thinks we are nearing something close to Peak Everything.
The question in my mind: Can we come up with ways to generate energy cheap enough that we can use energy to compensate for dwindling fresh water, minerals, and other resources? Until we do it looks like a Zero Sum future where the sum will start shrinking at some point.
Update: See physics prof Tom Murphy on why long term growth can't be sustained.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2011 July 23 10:31 AM Economics Labor|