Democratic Underground Latest Greatest Lobby Journals Search Options Help Login
Google

Nike sweatshop in Vietnam. Good or bad? What's your opinion?

Printer-friendly format Printer-friendly format
Printer-friendly format Email this thread to a friend
Printer-friendly format Bookmark this thread
This topic is archived.
Home » Discuss » Archives » General Discussion (Through 2005) Donate to DU
 
J_Q_Higgins Donating Member (48 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 01:28 PM
Original message
Nike sweatshop in Vietnam. Good or bad? What's your opinion?
Going by the posting guidelies, I'm only copying a few paragraphs. However, if you wish to read the entire article, you may click on the link:

http://tinyurl.com/kagi

In truth the work does look tough, and the conditions grim, if we compare Vietnamese factories with what we have back home. But thats not the comparison these workers make. They compare the work at Nike with the way they lived before, or the way their parents or neighbours still work. And the facts are revealing. The average pay at a Nike factory close to Ho Chi Minh is $54 a month, almost three times the minimum wage for a state-owned enterprise.

Ten years ago, when Nike was established in Vietnam, the workers had to walk to the factories, often for many miles. After three years on Nike wages, they could afford bicycles. Another three years later, they could afford scooters, so they all take the scooters to work (and if you go there, beware; they havent really decided on which side of the road to drive). Today, the first workers can afford to buy a car.

But when I talk to a young Vietnamese woman, Tsi-Chi, at the factory, it is not the wages she is most happy about. Sure, she makes five times more than she did, she earns more than her husband, and she can now afford to build an extension to her house. But the most important thing, she says, is that she doesnt have to work outdoors on a farm any more. For me, a Swede with only three months of summer, this sounds bizarre. Surely working conditions under the blue sky must be superior to those in a sweatshop? But then I am naively Eurocentric. Farming means 10 to 14 hours a day in the burning sun or the intensive rain, in rice fields with water up to your ankles and insects in your face. Even a Swede would prefer working nine to five in a clean, air-conditioned factory.

Furthermore, the Nike job comes with a regular wage, with free or subsidised meals, free medical services and training and education. The most persistent demand Nike hears from the workers is for an expansion of the factories so that their relatives can be offered a job as well.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
Old and In the Way Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 01:45 PM
Response to Original message
1. Hard for most Americans to believe.....but it's true for the most part.
I often wonder if we had bombed Vietnam with $20 bills, if we could have transformed their society a whole lot sooner and avoided the terrible carnage in the process?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
J_Q_Higgins Donating Member (48 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 01:59 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Cuba too.
I've always been against the U.S. embargo against Cuba.

I think if people in Cuba had a choice between working in the Cuban government factories, or working in the Cuban factories of U.S. corporations, they would easily choose to work for the U.S. corporations. And this would expose communism's horrible track record.

Thus, by supporting continuation of the embargo, politicians are actually helping the communists.

Imagine how great it would be to see TV footage of thousands of Cuban citizens fleeing from the government factories, and rushing to apply for jobs in the Cuban U.S. corporate factories. I can't think of many better ways to expose the evilness of communism.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
sandnsea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 02:20 PM
Response to Reply #2
7. That I agree with
But then, they'd also probably choose to keep their socialized health programs and schools and that would be equally bad for US citizens to see.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Zuni Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 04:00 PM
Response to Reply #2
15. excellent point
The embargo also gives excuses for Cuba's terrible economy, even though several billion US dollars enter the country per year.
Aside the embargo really exists on paper. No other countries recognize it, and you can get ALOT of American products there, believe it or not.
Many Latin Countries have also said they would raise issue with Cuba's human rights record if the embargo and US hostility weren't there.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
ott Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 04:31 PM
Response to Reply #2
18. The evilness of Communism?
A. Cuba is more a Socialist hybrid

B. Given a choice between universal health care, guaranteed housing, free education to college and beyond, a more sound democracy, a more responsible world power, and a less gluttonous society; given a choice I would gladly head to the government factory. I think thousands more Americans would be right behind me. How's that for TV footage? Like our corporate "free press" would cover it, right?

C. Labeling an economic system you disagree with 'evil' is... Well, it tells me you haven't really thought it through. It might not be for you, but I encourage you to do a little research as to why it's for other people. It's not a 'threat to your way of life' coming out of a vacuum.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
sandnsea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 02:01 PM
Response to Original message
3. 3 years to buy a bicycle?
Gee, isn't that something that ought to happen in, oh, say 3 months?

This honestly just sounds to me like the same stuff I hear too many anti-union workers say here at home. Crumbs are given and it's better than total poverty, so crumbs are accepted.

What I didn't see in this article is what a truly responsible Nike does do to improve working conditions. What happens to people who get hurt on the job? What about retirement? What is Nike doing to improve the communities where their factories are located? What sort of educational scholarships are there for the children of the workers? What is Nike doing to increase the minimum wage for all Vietnamese people?

And why do we still pay the same damn prices for shoes if labor is what causes prices to be high in the first place?

They'll have to do a whole lot more to put me in the pro-globalisation camp.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
J_Q_Higgins Donating Member (48 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 02:09 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. I have a simple question for you.
Do you think the workers in that article are better off or worse off because of Nike, compared to how they were before the Nike factory opened up?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
sandnsea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 02:18 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Question for you?
Are Walmart workers better off or worse off than they would be if we had strong union rights?

Yours is a simplistic argument that avoids the total picture. Nike has had years to truly do right in these countries and they don't. A few crumbs to the poor while people are sitting in the Caribbean at the beach, making more money than the workers do, is simply not a world order I want to promote.

It's a fluff piece designed to make you sleep comfy after a good run in your Nikes.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
J_Q_Higgins Donating Member (48 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 03:21 PM
Response to Reply #5
10. My answer
If Wal-Mart workers were unionized, then the ones who still had their jobs would be better off.

But there would be a tradeoff. The higher wages for the unionized workers would come in part from higher prices that Wal-Mart would have to charge. This would cause some loss of sales at Wal-Mart. This would cause some Wal-Mart workers to lose their jobs. So those workers would be worse off. So there's a tradeoff.

I am puzzled as to why you did not answer my question. It is so obvious from the article that the Nike workers are so much better off now than before.

Your comment about how they should be able to get a bike in 3 months instead of 3 years is not the real world choice that they have. The choice isn't between a bike in 3 months or a bike in 3 years. The choice is between a bike in 3 years or no bike at all.

The price of a bike is not what anyone thinks it "should" be. Instead, the price of a bike is the point at where the supply and demand intersect. If you passed a law that lowered the price of a bike to what you think it "should" be, then based on past experience with those kinds of laws, the result is that no bikes would be available at all.

People who say that the price of a bike "should" cost a certain amount, instead of what the price actually is, don't understand why prices are what they are. I'd suggest reading any standard economics textbook, to find out why prices of things are what they are.

The reason that bikes are so much more affordable in the U.S. than in Vietnam is because U.S. workers are much more productive, and so they earn higher salaries. This is the result of centuries of economic growth in the U.S.

The difference between your point of view and my point of view is that you are looking at the ideal choices that you think people should have, whereas I am looking at the real world choices that people actually have.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
sandnsea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 03:48 PM
Response to Reply #10
14. Why do you buy these higher prices crap?
Nike shoes ARE NOT cheaper!!! The $54 monthly salary paid to Vietnamese workers dismisses your entire argument that higher salaries leads to higher prices. Lower salaries didn't lead to lower priced Nike shoes!!!

I am not looking at ideal, I am looking at reality. The profit is STILL there, more than ever. It's going to CEO's and stockholders instead of labor. A strong union would change that. It was that way for 50 years until Reagan took office.

I live in a state with $6.90 minimum wage. My prices are not noticeably higher. The biggest cost to prices here is the price of fuel because our fuel comes from California which is higher because of the environmental regulations. And I don't care, I like clean air.

And your bike argument is stupid as well. They're cheaper in the US because US workers are more productive???? Then why the hell aren't Nikes made here? I didn't say there should be a law about the price of bikes either. Don't know what possessed you to throw that ditty in. Obviously the pay isn't commesurate to the cost of living in Vietnam and it's becoming more and more that way here.

You buy the corporate line. We're all suffering because of it, including the people in Vietnam.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
WhoCountsTheVotes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 09:02 PM
Response to Reply #10
21. Walmart executives would have to take a pay cut, prices would stay low
More pay, less profits. No one wants to increase prices, and there's little ability or reason to do so, except to get more profits for shareholders and executives. Instead, they take a pay cut, and workers negotiate for higher wages through a union.

People make more money, demand goes up, everybody wins. Cooperation is a good thing.


Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
gristy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 02:19 PM
Response to Original message
6. you first
You will generate more discussion, I think, and also show other DUers of your sincerity and commitment to discussion, if you give a clear indication of your views first.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
J_Q_Higgins Donating Member (48 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 03:02 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Sure!
The article mentions that comparing the workers in the Vietnam Nike factory to workers in the U.S. is the wrong comparison. Instead, the correct comparison is to compare the workers in the Vietnam Nike factory now, to how those same workers were at their previous jobs.

The point is that every country in the world starts out poor. You can't just snap your fingers and make a country rich, and you can't legislate it either. It takes a combination of economic growth and time to make a country rich.

What really counts is the opinions of the people who actually work in those factories. And they seem very pleased with their jobs.

Imagine if a bunch of U.S. college students were to protest, and as a result, Nike closed the factory. Somehow I doubt that the workers would be thankful towards the U.S. college students. Of course, the U.S. college students would feel all warm and fuzzy and happy and smug, because they were being "socially responsible" and they "stopped the exploitation of workers."
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Iverson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 03:16 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. Menstrual Leave
It is easy to defend sweatshops when tarring those who disagree as naive college students who merely want to feel warm and fuzzy. Propaganda that naked deserves to be called.

Similarly, issuing rebuttals to arguments that were never made (e.g.- "You can't just snap your fingers and make a country rich.") is no great recommendation for sweatshops.

I would like all readers to consider exactly how we measure the pleasure and gratitude of sweatshop workers.

I recommend the journal entitled "Menstrual Leave" for those who want a closer look at what goes on. If you still prefer cheerleading for the IMF and World Bank at the end of the day, no harm will have come to you from broadening your horizons a bit.

http://www.nikewages.org/journal.html
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
J_Q_Higgins Donating Member (48 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 03:28 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. That's really awful.
The stuff in that article is terrible.

Since I admitted that the stuff in your article is terrible, will you admit that the stuff in my article is good?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Iverson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 03:39 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. not much "good" to find
Friend, I have to wonder whether you are being clever with the language or no.

However, leaving that aside, what I "admit" is that the truth is rarely monolithic or simple. In the article that you provided, it is indeed interesting to note the praise for Nike from the Communist Party.

I will not be persuaded that economic globalization in its current form is a good thing. However, I welcome your contribution to the discussion and will also resist characterizing you as naive or fuzzy just because you have another opinion.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
WhoCountsTheVotes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 09:21 PM
Response to Reply #12
22. Communist dictators love Capitalist corporations
Communist regimes were never any good at running an economy anyway, so this merger of state and corporate power makes a good fit don't you think? The Capitalist corporations will run the economy, pay the wages they want, and the Communist regimes will keep the people in line and bust union.

I keep hearing that the neo-cons used to be Trots, it sounds reasonable.


Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
HalfManHalfBiscuit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 03:47 PM
Response to Original message
13. Clearly a good thing
More money, medical services, shorter hours, better working conditions.

No wonder they want expansion of the factories.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Zuni Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 04:08 PM
Response to Original message
16. No simple answer
Obviously the Nike people could pay more to Vietnamese workers.(although cost of living in Vietnam is lower)
But the Vietnamese workers are better off than their counterparts in state controlled jobs and making well more than the national average.
I am sure if anti-globalization activists closed the plant, the Vietnamese workers would not be better off, and their standards would go down. Their labor conditions are probably no better in other jobs.

On the other hand the Nike people are not paying fair value for the labor. But they are leaving trained workers, Industrial material and paying higher than the national average. And paying taxes to Vietnam.

I honestly do not know what to make of this. I am torn between the fact that Nike workers are better off and the fact that they are being exploited at the same time.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
legin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 04:21 PM
Response to Original message
17. One problem (hypothetical)
You live in a village of 100 people in rural Vietnam. Your annual salary is $100. The total salary of the village is $10,000 per annum. You and the people in your village are just managing to not quite starve.

In your local town a multinational has just moved in and set up production. They are paying the going rate for the town of $300 per annum. However the unemployment figure for the town is 50%.

A village meeting is called, the question being "Is it time to move and seek employment in the town ?"

The answer is yes.

50 of the villagers will get employment at 300 = $15,000.
50 of the villagers can sift through rubbish tips for things worth saving or they can beg on the streets, for an income of $10 per annum = $500.
So the total income for the village is $15,500.

It is only not worth them going if the umemployment figure for the town is 66%.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
legin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 05:00 PM
Response to Reply #17
20. The author's crowing
"Nike is not the accidental good guy. On average, multinationals in the least developed countries pay twice as much as domestic companies in the same line of business. If you get to work for an American multinational in a low-income country, you get eight times the average income. If this is exploitation, then the problem in our world is that the poor countries arent sufficiently exploited."

is a little frightening.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
legin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 04:53 PM
Response to Original message
19. Mmmmmm...
It would appear that the author of the article may possibly have something to do with Pfizer, a multinational, or at least they like him enough to put his biography on their website.

http://www.pfizerforum.com/authors/norbergbio.shtml
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Ein Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 09:29 PM
Response to Reply #19
24. Good call - I don't like it one bit.
Edited on Sun Aug-17-03 09:33 PM by Ein
It violates basic things. American Companies should use American Workers.

Since Nike throws that to hell whenever they get a chance, they should be selling thier fucking shoes to us for 15 bucks a pair, with what they pay those poor people.

Wow, I bet they could employ some Americans who would love the work, guess not. Ant-(Average)American Corporation, they can get bent.

In a better world, we could aid the people of Vietnam in many ways without standing on thier shoulders and sucking capital out of em.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
WhoCountsTheVotes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 09:25 PM
Response to Original message
23. Sounds like the "model factories" of the old Soviet days
The USSR always had model factories to show to the outside world and the press, and keep the sweatshops private enough. In the model factories, workers were treated well. In most factories, of course, they were not. The Communists would tell wonderful stories about the utopia they had created, and how much progress they were making, and how happy the people were. Come to think of it, so did the Fascists and the Nazis.

Now that the Communist regimes and the Capitalists multinational corporations are working together, I guess we can finally say the cold war is over. The Fascists won.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
vision Donating Member (818 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 09:55 PM
Response to Original message
25. I have not bought Nike's for ten years now
Yeah, the workers may be marginally better off working in a Nike plant than not but it is still sweatshop labor. An average set of Nikes cost $100 dollars in the USA. An average worker in Viet-Nam makes $54 a month. http://www.nike.com/nikerunning/?ref=global_home


That is outrageous IMO. The costs do not corespond to the price charged. That is exploitation of the workers and the buyers in America. I refuse to participate.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
blockhead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 10:18 PM
Response to Original message
26. good or bad?
there shouldn't even be a question
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
diamond14 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 10:37 PM
Response to Original message
27. BAD...the environmental damage lasts for generations....the low
wages are part of the exploitation, but a real cost savings for mega-corporations is the total LACK of any environmental or occupational laws...so the solvents, glues, polymers, and plastics manufactured for NIKE shoes are simply dumped on the ground or into surface water...

go to any third world country and look at the industrial discharges...it's really inhumane...many chemicals simply don't degrade at all or take years or transform into even more toxic chemicals...some chemicals cause birth defects, genetic defects, deformities, cancers, hormonal imbalances, deaths....

it is horrible corporate crime...NIKE doesn't want to pay for the proper use and disposal of chemicals in the USA, so they just move jobs to any country where there are NO RULES OR REGULATIONS, so NIKE can just make all that much more obscene profits at the cost of human health and lives, and the health of their children, and many generations to come...the full cost of the shoes is never assumed by NIKE, and just like here in America, future generations will be stuck with the very expensive environmental clean-up costs, and NIKE will be long gone as the toxic long-term chronic effects set in from drinking polluted water and eating food grown on polluted soils...
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
KG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-03 10:47 PM
Response to Original message
28. bad.
fuck foriegn sweatshops.

how about americans make products for american companies in america?

nike sux, and i don't wear nike stuff.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
DU AdBot (1000+ posts) Click to send private message to this author Click to view 
this author's profile Click to add 
this author to your buddy list Click to add 
this author to your Ignore list Fri Aug 22nd 2014, 08:00 AM
Response to Original message
Advertisements [?]
 Top

Home » Discuss » Archives » General Discussion (Through 2005) Donate to DU

Powered by DCForum+ Version 1.1 Copyright 1997-2002 DCScripts.com
Software has been extensively modified by the DU administrators


Important Notices: By participating on this discussion board, visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.

Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals |  Store  |  Donate

About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy

Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.

© 2001 - 2011 Democratic Underground, LLC