Do sweat shops make good cheap product?

in Money Saving Polls
52 replies 8.6K views
Poll Started 24 April 2007. Do sweat shops make good cheap product? You love shopping in your favourite cut-price clothing retailer or supermarket, but a verified report comes out that the reason it's so cheap is because it's paying 10 to 14 year olds only £1 a day in the developing world to make the goods. Which of the following is closest to your attitude?

A. I'd immediately stop buying there regardless.
B. I'd try to find a viable alternative that didn't cost too much more.
C. I'd keep shopping there, but write demanding the company change its suppliers.
D. I wouldn't feel good about it, but I can't afford to pay more.
E. If it saves me money, that's what counts.

Click here to vote, or click reply to discuss below.



  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Forumite
    0 Posts
    Holiday Haggler
    Sweet shops are brilliant. I love the pick and mix bits..

    Oh, wait, sweatshops.. They're good also. If I was a starving <insert member of poor nation here> I'd much rather be working in a horrible factory for bad money than begging on the street (for worse money and worse conditions) or pimping myself/being pimped.

    Sweatshops may not be nice places to work, but they're better than the other available alternatives. They enable workers to gain skills and money that otherwise would be unavailable to them. Factory conditions and pay rise eventually as the population get more skilled / have better alternatives due to more factories.

    I support stores who offer these great working opportunities to the children of poor nations and instill then with a hardened work ethic. They will grow up to open their own factories and businesses and gradually improve their nations economies

    Once the population has higher employment, the government can then tax them and help invest in its infrastructure/education. Yay for progress.

    All hail open markets and free trade!
  • Just wanted 2 say that I totally agree with Mr Ringo. have just finished reading "Naked Economist" which explains all the benefits of sweatshops.

    Mr Ringo is right - they might not be the most pleasant of places, but they are better than the alternatives. And free trade is the only thing that has been proven to reduce poverty. The poll on the homepage upset me because if I found out that one of my shops was using sweatshop labour then I'd actually start buying MORE.

    Think about it - if everyone were to stop shopping there what would those employees do instead? They'd go hungry!

    So come on, update the poll so that I can vote the way I really want 2!!
  • rdwarrrdwarr Forumite
    6.2K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Combo Breaker Photogenic
    I agree with the above and share the feeling of disenfranchisement. The current choices imply a certain viewpoint is held by all MSErs.
    Can I help?
  • theonlyricktheonlyrick Forumite
    41 Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    Uhhhhhh...... no.

    The saviour of the poor - the free market! How can it help them?

    What chance do workers have of improving themselves if their children (almost toddlers) can't get an education because they are more useful earning a few pence?

    How exactly can workers benefit on 6p an hour? How about threatening workers with rape - who does that benefit?

    What chance do the workers have of providing a strong voice if the companies smash unions? The unions give workers more of that money and would help them to benefit from the rights that we now take for granted.

    A policy of divide and conquer has never helped those that are divided.

    Much like FairTrade, when you pay a few extra quid for non-sweatshop products, that sends a profit signal to the seller that consumers will pay more for an ethically-sourced product.

    The seller then seek out ethical suppliers, which you buy. The workers get more money - perhaps they can afford for their children not to work, and instead to go to school. Now that's the free market in operation!

    If less is more, think how much "more" more would be.
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Forumite
    0 Posts
    Holiday Haggler
    Do you mean the undercover economist?

    That book makes me wish I did economics at uni... I did prefer it over the rather abstract Freakonomics book.

    How about a new vote? - Do you want to give your money to:

    a) subsidised american cotton growers
    b) breadline 3rd world cotton growers

    It seems rather mean to take money away from poorly paid workers just because you disagree with it ethically
  • In reply I would rather do neither but choose to buy fair trade goods over cheap ones of any source

    I know this probably does not fit in with this forum but I think we have a responsibility for others which I will try to support

    Also some sweat shops - especially those involved in the cocoa bean and chocolate trade actually kidnap and encapture these kids so they are not paid at all ... human trafficking cannot be justified ever IMO - whatever the alternatives

    so yes I support the stop the traffic campaign and personally there is more to my life than money saving for money savings sake .. I want to stop being ripped off but not at others expense !!

    Riight - I shall return to my hole now
  • ManAtHomeManAtHome Forumite
    8.5K Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    May not bother you that Mr T gets £1.40 out of your £2 t-shirt and the people who sew it get 6p - all hail the market etc, but remember that when your employer is off-shoring...
  • reehsetinreehsetin Forumite
    4.9K Posts
    as long as the laws of the land are being obayed then yeah would
    Yes Your Dukeiness :D
  • I absolutely refuse to buy clothes from Primark, Adsa, Tesco, most designer labels etc. As far as possible, I'll seek out an ethical alternative or I'll go without. I personally don't feel comfortable wearing clothes that I know have been produced unethically. I feel that these cheap clothing stores, as well as promoting sweatshops as some kind of 'viable' market, encourage an unhealthy attitude to consumption and are contributing to many of our environmental problems.

    The attitude of a 'sweatshop job is better then no job/being pimped' is totally inaccurate - most of these factories exist in Economic Processing Zones (basically tax free havens) so as well as exploiting their citizens many poor countries are actually subsidising the production of these cut price clothes. They create little or no benefit to the countries involved (and often at a substiantial environmental and human cost), and why should people be forced into our paradigm rather than creating sustainable business that would enhance their own countries? Also, many women in these factories are so poorly paid that they often turn to prostitution as well as working, just so they can actually afford to live.

    A great book to read about this is Naomi Klein's 'No Logo', which offers a more compassionate view of the situation, rather than one that simply looks at the economic benefits to the West.
  • sluggy1967sluggy1967 Forumite
    190 Posts
    Unfortunately, this is a classic example of the responsibility being unfairly put on the shoulders of the consumer, which is happening more & more, i.e. buying a new child car seat because the law says you have to, but then having to dispose of the packaging yourself when the refuse collectors won't take it & there are no cardboard recycling centres nearby - the consumer is told to dispose of unnecessary packaging instead of getting the manufacturers to do something about their bulky packaging instead. Similarly with this question, it is not the fault of the consumer with only a few pounds in their purse/wallet that someone is working in disgraceful conditions around the world so that they can clothe themselves and their family. Blame the stores for driving down wages - they do it to keep their profits as high as possible. (Did you read how much Tesco are making?) I would love to have a conscience & buy fairtrade, unfortunately the Government only see fit to pay me £48.65 carers allowance a week, so I can't.
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