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Controversial Views On Sweatshops Labour

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A lot of people can agree that sweatshops are unethical because the workers get paid very little and they receive very little to no benefits. But with most things, there are pros and cons to working in a sweatshop. In the article “Sweatshops and Respect for Persons” by Dennis Arnold and Norman Bowie, discusses the ethics of labor in regards to multinational enterprises that use sweatshops in their production. They are completely against working in sweatshops. But Matt Zwolinski says otherwise. In his article “Sweatshops, Choice, and Exploration”, he claims that it’s better to work in a sweatshop rather than having no income at all.

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Sweatshops are work environments that possess three characteristics. Long hours, low pay, and unsafe or unhealthy work environment. Some sweatshops have a policy limiting workers’ freedoms such as limiting bathroom breaks, not being able to talk to other coworkers. Sometimes even violence is used to discipline sweatshop workers. They are mostly located in third-world countries or other developing countries. The United States currently have strong labor laws therefore, it’s more uncommon for sweatshops to exist in the U. S. but some still do exist. Dennis Arnold and David Bowie refer to the Kantian doctrine, which consists of treating workers with dignity, and basically giving them a good and safe work environment. Arnold and Bowie’s key thoughts in their article are about the treatment of their workers, working conditions, and wages. Many workers are being treated unfairly in sweatshops. The authors claim that the workers should be treated with dignity and respect, because they’re not like the machines in the factory. They have feelings and emotions. They should be ethically treated compared to how machines should be treated. “Treating people as ends in themselves means ensuring their physical well- being and supporting and developing their rational and moral capacities”. Each worker should not have to come to work and worry if they would get hurt at work that day. According to “37 Shocking Sweatshop Statistics”, an estimated 250 million children work in sweatshops in developing countries by the age of five. Children of that age should not be anywhere near dangerous machines. Many children have died from these conditions.

Arnold and Bowie argue that the multinational enterprises should have the following duties: to ensure that local labor laws are followed to refrain from coercion to meet minimum safety standards and to provide a living wage for employees. Improving health and safety conditions, and providing a living wage to their workers will only produce more good and harm for everyone.

Although everyone can agree that working in a sweatshop can be unfair and terrifying, but is it really that bad if it’s the only option? Does the exchange between the worker and employee mutually beneficial? Even if it’s unfair? Zwolinski thinks that sweatshops make their employees better off. Even if they don’t make them as much better off. Studies have shown that sweatshops pay three to seven times the wages paid elsewhere in the economy. That’s why often of those workers choose to work in sweatshops.

According to Zwolinski, for the most part, people who work in sweatshops voluntarily chose to do so. They may not like the working conditions but they are still getting paid. They are better off with the money they made from sweatshops than having no income at all. They can at least have some money to feed their family. I believe everyone can agree that having something to eat is better than starving to death. As bad as sweatshops are, there are always worse paying, more degrading, and more dangerous. Closing down sweatshops would cause more harm than good. According to Zwolinski, even though everyone can agree that sweatshops are unfair, it is a bad idea to prohibit it. Remember, workers only take the sweatshop jobs because they are desperately poor, and it could be their only option. It could be the opportunity to feed their family. Taking away sweatshops does nothing to help the global poor at all or to enhance their options. It only reduces them further by making them unemployed. He also claims that the government can make it illegal for companies to give low wages, but it’s not illegal for the companies to shut down and give no wages and make people unemployed. Another thing that Zwolinski argues is that it is better to do something to end global poverty rather than doing nothing. Therefore, sweatshops are doing something to help. They are offering people jobs that are better than their alternatives, and they’re contributing to a process of economic development that could potentially increase the living standards.

Both articles make valid points. Arnold and Bowie aren’t wrong. Sweatshops are very dangerous to a person’s well-being, they don’t give fair wages, and the work ours are super long. They give little to know benefits, and consistently working twelve to fifteen hour days from Monday to Saturday. Breaks and restroom breaks are not always readily available. Therefore, if you work at a sweatshop, you don’t even get a break some days, or get disciplined for getting up and going to the bathroom.

I do agree with Arnold and Bowie that working conditions should change in sweatshop factories. Stated before, these workers are not machines. Machines do not get tired, they have no feelings or emotions, they can take a beating, they don’t have to eat, they don’t have to go to the restroom, and they can consistently stay working for long periods of time compared to a human being. These workers do deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. They deserve to be treated as fairly as any other human being. Sometimes workers have to relieve themselves in a clean, sanitary bathroom. They also deserve some time to eat food to keep their energy up.

These workers are making the company millions of dollars in profit, I believe they should have the duty to give their workers a decent living wage. Because these people have families to feed. If they’re only making about. 30 cents a day, that’s barely enough to feed a whole family. Majority of their income is going to food for their families alone.

On the other hand, Zwolinski also makes a great point. Yes, the working conditions are harsh, and the wage isn’t the greatest, but is there a better alternative? It provides their family a consistent source of income. It basically guarantees them income for food to survive. In a way, these sweatshops are contributing for the global poor. The workers are also obtaining skills and trades while they’re working as well. 1/6 of children in the world work in sweatshops. The sweatshops also teach children a trade, and give them an income with their time. In addition, with these families have their children working as well, it only adds more income to the family.

It would be better to have the children working in sweatshops rather than have them begging in the streets and starving to death. Between the authors, I would agree with Zwolinski more, because the sweatshops do in a way contribute to the global poor. I agree that it is better to do something rather than nothing at all. These people working for sweatshops are desperately poor. It basically comes down to either work in a sweatshop, or die of starvation. Although sweatshops are unfair, it is a bad idea to prohibit it and make it illegal. Because if sweatshops were to close down, millions of people would be unemployed and it could lead to them dying of starvation. Therefore, making it illegal could just set them back further than they were. Unfortunately, they do not have many options, and closing them down does nothing to get rid of that poverty or enhance their options.

31 October 2020

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