Exploitation of Workers: Causes and Solutions

Topics: Law, Labour law, Employment Pages: 6 (1740 words) Published: May 13, 2014
Exploitation of Workers: Causes and Solutions

In 2010, Foxconn became more famous not for its products but for the series of suicides among its workers in China. At least 14 people died, most of whom were adolescents coming from rural areas, trying to make more money in order to have a better life. However, the exploitation broke their dreams. Exploitation of workers occurs all over the world, especially in recent years, with lots of workers from less developed areas to the relatively developed areas, the exploitation is more severe. They are forced to do more work than they are paid for and may suffer other kinds of unfair treatments. Even children are involved in labour exploitation. According to the statistics from International Labour Organization (ILO, 2013), the number of child labours has already reached 215 million. This article aims to discuss two major causes of the labour exploitation, the economic imbalance and the imperfectness of justice system, and offer two corresponding solutions to tackle it.

Economic imbalance may be one of the most important causes engendering the exploitation. To some extent, the wage gap has enhanced the exploitation of labours, both regionally and nationally. The most attractive aspect of working in the developed regions is that the wages are much more higher than those in rural areas. Therefore, the workers may earn more, but also be exploited. To take Foxconn as an example, the workers have to do extra work for overtime fees to earn more. According to Ngai and Chan (2012), the basic monthly wage of the workers in Foxconn factories was about 950 RMB (or US$147) to 1200 RMB (or US$186), with 40 hours normal work, but the workers can get about 1600 RMB to 2000 RMB per month by working overtime, sometimes up to 120 hours per month. Although the basic salaries are already higher than those in the rural areas, they are still not enough for living in the cities and supporting their families out of poverty at the same time.

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The wage gap between home and host countries is similar to the situation between regions within one country. The global wage report (ILO, 2013) shows that in the Philippines, the hourly direct pay for time worked in manufacturing is only US$1.41, contrast to Denmark, where the pay is US$34.78. The big difference between the payments of countries stimulates the flow of workers. Wilkinson (2012) points out that there were 200,000 foreign-born workers going to the United Kingdom in 2004. These workers can be easily satisfied by a little money, which is regarded a lot in their own countries. The guest workers in foreign countries are often considered without citizenship therefore there are some restrictions to them that the citizens are free from. Employers take the advantage of the different nationality by paying them below the wages that citizens of the host countries would expect for the same work. Although the consideration seems to be reasonable, Attas (2000) argues, “Host countries are under an obligation to admit guest workers as citizens”, so they have the rights to get the equal salaries. Because of the wage gap, huge amounts of migrant workers go to developed regions, which provokes the labour surplus, resulting in the wages driving down. Thus, workers have to do more work to meet their expectations.

Poverty can also cause child labour. In poor families, it is very likely that children are forced to work and make money, otherwise they may suffer from starvation. Longford (1995) states that in developing countries, parents traditionally want big families because the more children they have, the more chance the children can survive into adulthood and look after their parents when they are old. But parents have to spend more on raising children thereby families must try to earn more, one way of which is to push their children to work. Consequently, as explained in the previous three paragraphs, economic imbalance makes...
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