Is It Ethical for an American Company to Operate a Sweatshop in a Foreign Country?

Topics: Sweatshop, Child labour, Ethics / Pages: 4 (926 words) / Published: May 13th, 2013
Ethics Issue:
Is it ethical for an American company to operate a sweatshop in a foreign country?
According to the US Department of Labor, a sweatshop is an employer that violates more than one federal or state labor law governing minimum wage and overtime, child labor, industrial homework, occupational safety and health, workers compensation or industry [1].
As we examine the effects that sweatshops have on the employees in the foreign country, most American’s would agree that forcing employees to work long hours with little or no pay and exposing these workers to unsanitary and dangerous working conditions would be considered despicable acts. If we knew that our favorite pair of jeans came from a manufactures who hired contractors who in turn hired garment workers who were forced to work under these horrible conditions; most of us would likely stop buying those jeans. To the average American, the mere thought of the term “sweatshop” brings unpleasant and XX thoughts.

But we also pause and also consider the opinions of those sweatshop workers. How do they feel about their jobs, their salaries and their working conditions?
From the lens of the foreign sweatshop worker many of them feel blessed to have a job. Interviews conducted with many foreign workers that work in these so called sweatshops reported that the workers often seek employment that could offer longer hours based of the potential of being able to earn more money. These jobs to us Americans who are accustomed to a much different way of live would likely be repulsive. But for people who are living in poverty and misery and who don’t have the means to leave their Countries in pursuit of a better life, the idea of a job where some amount of money can be earned is a much better alternative. Keep in mind that the alternatives to sweatshop labor in these poverty-stricken countries often amount to child prostitution, sexual slavery, drug market, or exposing yourself to getting malaria

Bibliography: “Buy American is Nonsense.” Fox Business. 28, October 2011 Kristof, Nicholas D. and WuDunn, Sheryl. “Two Cheers for Sweatshops.” The New York Times. 24, September 2000 Stossell, John. “Sweatshops” Moran, Theodore H. “Beyond Sweatshops.” Washington, DC. The Brookings Institution, 2002.

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