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By Philippe Legrain 2 COMMENTS

War on Want, a British lobby group, on Friday launched a campaign
against Primark, Tesco and Asda for selling cheap clothes made
by Bangladeshi workers whom the lobby group claim are exploited because
they "regularly work 80 hours a week for just 5p
an hour".

I debated the charge that such "sweatshops" are harming
Bangladeshi workers in a debate with John Hilary of War on Want on BBC
Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show: Listen here

Posted 10 Dec 2006 in Blog, Media
  1. Matthew says:

    I enjoyed that, Philippe, but unfortunately I found myself agreeing with both of you when it was your turn to speak. Your arguments seem sound, though I suppose my main concern is that if, as I think, it basically boils down to ‘if it wasn’t better than the alternatives they wouldn’t be there’ then this argument could be made against any workplace legislation that has been introduced since 1780.

  2. marcdunord says:

    legrain has a myopic view of the considerations to be made and of the remedies that are possible in the case of exploited bangladeshi workers. there are huge profits being made all over the world by sharks who exploit need. these profits are not shared equitably with the workers or the societies that pay for the workers’ growing up and for their maintenance and education until they become exploit-able by fine foreign entrepreneurs.
    the point that paying “artificially” high wages would disrupt the country’s labor market is a shameless excuse that skirts the problem of the real cost of generating the exploited labor force (and of allowing it to be reproduced) and is fully immaterial to the deeper issue of whether it is desirable and possible that the leeches share “their” profits more equitably with whomever.
    indeed these undeserved profits could be easily be taxed out of these bloodsuckers and used directly to fund directly the development of the country’s infrastructure, education, etc (honoring the labor-force generating toil of the parents and relatives of the exploited workers, e.g.). the level of taxation would be set such that foreign bloosuckers would still see it as profitable to invest in the country, which would allow the “development” of which legrain appears so fond, to continue.
    taxation to redress cases in which the market price does not reflect the true price of a product (whenever profits are astronomic o people truly desperate to sell, e,g,) is not unheard of in developed countries. and one does not need the UN to organize the taxation since the UK government could do it no prob by simply looking into the books of the leeches and then using directly the raised revenue to fund development projects in the country where workers produced much more than they were paid back in wages.
    sharing fairly in the fruits of the common effort is one the most basic ethical considerations that arise in our minds whenever we work communally. violating it is an affront against our most deeply engrained natural ethics.
    allowing the thieves to keep what steal because otherwise if one stopped them people would have too much money and would get fat and become hypertense is an argument worthy of a retard, one who i cannot decide whether he is well-intentioned or not.

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