Sweatshops refer to working conditions that are dangerous and unhealthy for any human being to work. People working in sweatshops are forced to work for long hours without receiving adequate pay regardless to the laws enacted to govern the workplace. Though the employees work for long hours which may exceed the normal working hours in a day, they are not paid for overtime.
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In sweatshops, employees are exploited and overworked by their employers. The employer also prohibits such employees from joining workers unions which can protect them. Though sweatshops have unfavorable working condition and the employees are paid less, the sweatshops provide a means for the low class people to earn a living.
Sweatshop conditions are usually in manufacturers and companies with unfair, risky and dirty working environment. These conditions exploit workers who cannot afford employment in a good environment. They create opportunities for uneducated and unskilled young people to work and earn a living.
This encourages students to drop out of school and seek employment in the sweatshops. Additionally, some companies take advantage of children and overwork them sweatshops. They capitalize on child labor and force children to work like adults (Featherstone & United Students Against Sweatshops 2002).
Companies which contract sweatshops to manufacture their products claim their practice in good for them since they are able to take advantage and compete favorably offering low cost products to their customers. Social economists and analysts have varied views on that issue. Some say that, use of sweatshops labor harm workers who lose job when a company contract manufacturing works abroad (Fraser, 2001).
Machines that are used by workers in sweatshops are poorly maintained and dangerous to operate. These faulty equipments cause injuries to workers. Some workers suffer minor injuries while others suffer severe injuries that leave them disabled. When a worker is injured the employer fails to take responsibility and leaves the employee to suffer alone. Other injuries make workers unable to do their job and they are fired. In such cases, the employer fires the affected employees without compensation.
Poor ventilation in manufacturing factories results in poor air circulating. This makes the place stuffy and increases the chances of contracting airborne diseases. Due to lack of proper ventilation, the workers are affected by poisonous gas which they breathe from materials being processed. This leads to workers suffering from health problems. Additionally, there are conditions where there are bugs and rodents. These make the situation worse resulting in diseases (Thomas J. DiLorenzo (2006).
Even if sweatshops provide job opportunities, working in a sweatshop is not the best option for employees. They would opt to work in better working environment. It is seen that in sweatshops, workers are forced to work for long hours and in return, they receive low pay. Companies try to keep their cost low by giving low wages and fail to meet the requirements of minimum pay standards. These wages are low and are considered starvation pay.
Sweatshops increase with growth in industrialization which creates new job vacancies. The new job opportunities attract people and they leave farming to join the factories. The conditions in the factories are grim: workers operate machinery without safety gadgets, poorly ventilated workplaces and in environment vulnerable to accidents, fire and even suffer from physical abuse.
Businesses opt to use sweatshops in their search to minimize cost of production through cheap labor and maximize profit. They exploit workers by providing harsh working conditions and taking advantage of people who are desperately looking for jobs (Sweatshops, 2010).
Sweatshops violate human rights and do not provide protection to employees at the workplace. Working in a sweatshop is risky to one’s health. The conditions of a sweatshop are not fit for human health. Sweatshop owners are the sole beneficially and regard workers in their factory as expenditure and they do not treat them like human beings.
Workers receive low wages to keep the company expenditures low. The workers decide to stay in the sweatshop with all the harsh conditions because they can easily lose the opportunity. There is no room to bargain since workers are forced to take the position, or forfeit the opportunity. It is evident that in sweatshops there is low demand for more human labor and this makes managers to enslave their workers (Williams, 1999).
Sweatshops have always been dangerous and uncomfortable for workers. The working conditions in the sweatshops do not pay well as the average modern white color jobs. Though the working conditions are unfavorable, most of the things used in everyday life such as clothes and shoes are made in these sweatshops. People imagine that the items they use are made in clean automated factories where workers are well remunerated. The society imagines that no pain or suffering is involved when developing these goods.
When people realize the conditions that the workers go through when producing goods in sweatshops, they are quick to judge and curse the employers for mistreating the employees. However, it is important to note that these factories provide jobs for the low working class in the society. Without these jobs, such people would be in abject poverty. This would only lead to more people begging on the streets.
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If there are a lot of unemployed people in the society, other problems would arise as well. There would be increased prostitution and crime. This would not promote quality of their life instead; it would further deteriorate and put their lives in danger. People who work in sweatshop remain there for a long time because they are not qualified for better jobs.
Though it is evident that the sweatshops owners exploit their employees, they also present to them a livelihood. The employers find that it is not possible to increase the wages for the workers since these would translate to a loss on their side. The only logical method to end the problem of sweatshops that would not lead to employer making loses would be to automate the process of production.
This would lead to the workers losing their jobs. Though the employer would require a huge capital to set up the machinery for the company, it would lead to high production in the long run. The company would be able to produce more goods at prices affordable by the average consumer. However, this would have the disadvantage of rendering most of the workers jobless.
Having human workers at the factories doing the work that would otherwise be done using machinery increases the cost of production. This also reduces the number of products produced per unit time. This translates to high prices for the goods produced; these goods end up unaffordable to the average consumer.
The customers would no longer afford the goods that the company produces due to increased prices. The employees who work in the sweatshops prefer to maintain the status quo since this would mean that they will keep their jobs although the working conditions are unfavorable.
Companies that capitalize on using sweatshop labor are able to sell their products at lower prices compared to the companies that do not use sweatshop labor. Sweatshops labor is voluntary and people who decide to work there do it because they feel they are unable to acquire a better job due to various reasons such as level of education or qualification. Due to the intensity of work at sweatshops, a lot of labor force is required. Therefore, a sweatshop is able to employ a lot of people who would otherwise be jobless.
Research indicates that most people who support sweatshops are employees who work there. This is because, such employees are aware of the fact that if they would demand high payment for their work, the employers would not be able to sustain them. This is because; the business would become unstable due to high cost of production. In an attempt to lower the cost of production, the employers would be forced to seek less costly labor such as use of machines and automation.
If the employers are not able to make profit, there would be less investment in other new businesses as well. This would lead to slow economic growth for the country, and in turn, the currency would weaken. Weakening of the currency of a country would lead to poor quality of life for all citizens.
For example, the Americans citizens protested against the outsourcing of the textile mills. The companies wanted to outsource because they felt that the factories were horrible and polluted the environment. There was also the problem of low wages for the employees who worked in those companies and poor working conditions. However, the Americans protested against the idea of outsourcing the textile mills because, despite being unfavorable, employment at the textile mills was the only job that they could secure (Woog, 2003).
If the employees are provided with better working conditions and they are paid well, the cost of production would increase. This will lead to the company increasing the cost of the goods sold in order to cover for the production cost. Due to increased cost of goods and services offered by such companies, less people in the society will afford the items due to the sudden increase in cost.
This would lead to reduced sales. If people do not buy the products, the company would have less money to spend on its employees and thus, it would be forced to either fire the employees or reduce their wages in order to sustain them.
Such company will be forced to either pay the workers less and less, or continue firing its employees until it shuts down. The employer would opt to replace the large number of people with a machine that would be able to produce more goods per unit time at a lower cost of production compared to people working in the sweatshops (Sweatshops, 2010).
Though the working conditions of a sweatshop are unfavorable, they are a good source of income and provide employment opportunities to many people. It is through these sweatshops that most low income earners are able to afford food for their families.
Featherstone, L., & United Students Against Sweatshops. (2002). Students against sweatshops. London: Verso.
Fraser, J. A. (2001). White-collar sweatshop: The deterioration of work and its rewards in corporate America. New York: Norton. Sweatshops. (2010). Detroit, Mich: Gale.
Thomas J. DiLorenzo (2006). How “Sweatshops” Help the Poor. Retrieved from https://mises.org/library/how-sweatshops-help-poor.
Williams, M. E. (1999). Child labor and sweatshops. San Diego, Calif: Greenhaven Press.
Woog, A. (2003). A sweatshop during the industrial revolution. San Diego, Calif: Lucent Books.