05 May 2012

Sweatshop Logic Fail

corporates manufacturing goods in Chittagong need pay workers an average of only $48 a month, said the zone manager. That's about $1.50 a day.  
Are these factories the new sweatshops, as some developments groups say? People are paid more to work in the zone than in factories beyond the gates and, from what I could see in the two works I visited, the conditions – albeit perhaps not surprisingly – looked good. But the pay rates, which are set by government and not by the companies, are terrible.
Read that again. Emphasis on the "people are paid more to work in the zone than in factories beyond the gates" and the "But the pay rates are terrible."

Now folks, please, take a seat, because what I'm about to say here is going to blow your mind. When poor people get jobs that pay more that is generally a good thing.

(And perhaps worth noting, the reason that those improved wages are still terrible by Western standards is global labour market segmentation: we use force to stop Bangladeshis from getting jobs in the West where wages are not terrible, because our median voters would rather that people were trapped in low wage labour markets than be allowed to move to our high wage labour markets. Charming.)

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