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Analysis First it was Apple and Foxconn, now Motorola, AT&T, Sony, Deutsche Telekom and others have come under the spotlight after a new report made shocking allegations of human and labour rights violations at the Chinese factories of technology supplier VTech. Not-for-profit the Institute for Labour and Global Human Rights …

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Anonymous Coward

Who do you you blame for it, the manufacturers, the businesses that order the products or the Government that turns a blind eye and allows it, or the consumer who buys it?

Are they all culpable?

It never was a problem unique Foxconn/Apple because it is so widespread.

Perhaps we need to be more choosy in what we buy and where it comes from?

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Anonymous Coward

No problem, the manufacturers such a Motorola will have in place systems that distance themselves from the abuses. They products or parts are never directly manufactured by for them by these sweatshops, there are always several layers of agents and sub-contraction so that they can hold their hands up and say, nothing to do with us, we take our suppliers on trust.

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Re "Perhaps we need to be more choosy in what we buy and where it comes from?"

We're going to struggle with that. Everything is made in China.

Maybe we should only buy new stuff when the old one breaks.

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Now that's a pipe dream...

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Culpability starts on Wall Street -- and with the legislators in the tycoons' pockets

I would start with the Boards of Directors who have destroyed the economies of the developed nations by shifting manufacturing (jobs, income, standard of living) overseas.

Reason they did that is because it's cheaper to build widgets when your factory doesn't have to pay minimum wage, comply with environmental laws, etc.

Protective tariis would be an incentive for people to purchase local products. If a cheap, trashy, Chinese phone costs $20, and and American phone the same, which one will the people buy? American, of course. If the If the cheap low quality Chinese item costs $10 and the American one $20, which one will they buy? Chinese of course. Out of a job, on welfare, flipping hamburgers, I can't afford anything else.

Tariffs drive up prices? Bad for business?? Perhaps. On the other hand, 20% of American families have an income that is less than the official US Government "poverty line". All because manufacturing (jobs) have been shifted overseas.

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Shock horror - human rights abuses found in China.

Western corporations ignore the abuse in favour of continuing to make huge profits on outsourced labour.

News at 11.

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WTF?

If...

"Imagine if AT&T, Motorola, Wal-Mart, Sony, Philips, Deutsche Telekom in Germany and Telstra in Australia demanded improvement ..."

Er, has anybody from the "Institute for Labour and Global Human Rights" visited a Wal-Mart lately?

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Bronze badge

Re: If...

Since the fall of the economy most companies are using the willingness of the worst hit to open up conditions that are as close to a B movie SciFi scenario. Meat packing plants run by supermarkets, traditionally low paying jobs that nobody wants, now have the most exacting security designed to put people off and keep them out.

The situation is nearly as bad on building sites -of all places!

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Anonymous Coward

le sigh

Nothing will change, at least not for a decade or so. We have to remember china is a very different culture compared to the west. Force a factory to change how it works and in many cases although we think we're doing what's best it may actually be harming the employees.

And don't forget it all feeds back to us.

We force the suppliers to give the employees less overtime, and hire 50% more employees to cover the lack of overtime, so their costs go up 50% (i know its not going to be 50% but go with it) that then gets passed on to the manufacturer with a 60% markup, who would then pass it on to us for a markup. Half of the electronic stuff a lot of us can't afford anyway hence one reason it all goes to china.

We force a factory to change how it operates, there are many people in china who rely on this setup to live. I agree to stopping the forced overtime without pay, but that's it, the rest of it we shouldn't be touching, it isn't our country so we shouldn't be trying to make it into one like our country.

Its like the sweatshops in india, all we see is poor little kids being forced to work for pennies a day. You know what happens when we close a sweatshop? Those kids go straight to another one, or they wind up dying on the streets. Nobody ever shows you the after of what happens when one is closed down.

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Tangental question

How do I set up a not-for-profit that can fund my poking my nose into other peoples business in various parts of the world? I'm thinking of investigating the horrors of the Brazilian Caipirinha industry and the degradation forced on the producers of Caribbean Rum Punches, but I'm open to suggestions.

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More shock, horror, etc.

The fruity company is not alone - or even in the minority - in exploiting Chinese workers.

Who'd a thunk it?

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Anonymous Coward

So, might it be seen as not too different from working for RBS then? ;)

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The real solution to factory human rights problems in the Big Red

QUOTE: Imagine if AT&T, Motorola, Wal-Mart, Sony, Philips, Deutsche Telekom in Germany and Telstra in Australia demanded improvement, this could make a world of difference for VTech’s exploited workers.

Far better: Imagine if ATT moved their factories back to Lansing, Michigan, Waco Texas, or other Stateside locations. Same for Walmart: Benton, ARK. Deutsche Telekom to some place in the former German DDR. Etc.

What a boon to the local economies.

The boards of directors of these global companies think with their bottom (line) instead of thinking about the people in their own countries. USA has over 10% unemployment, is bankrupt, and the Dollar is worthless. All because greed-driven companies have shifted their manufacturing to China.

Hell, they could even diversify their mfg operations to Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, etc. As well as their home countries.

American, I am told, has turned from a manufacturing economy to a service economy. Translation: we're all going to get rich by counting each other's money.

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Re: The real solution to factory human rights problems in the Big Red

Simples. Imagine you are a Director of manufacturer A. You see your costs go down if you outsource to China. You assume the economic environment around you is stable, and the market remains as it was. So either your profits go up (good news for your shareholders, Wall St, the City, your targets / bonus etc) or you can lower your price and gain market share (also good for the above).

Then everyone does it - people are thrown out of work and no-one can buy the fancy stuff any more. Market goes down, except for China where people don't buy that much from the West, and the assumption is false.

What is good for the individual firm, when repeated n times over, is not necessarily good for the economy. That's where Governments have to step in. In the West, we have 2 chances for this - slim chance and fat chance.

PS Or economies, industries etc re-position themselves to new higher value products and services, which takes time and investment.

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