In the Hutong
An interesting post that is worth reading in the wake of the recent tragedies at Foxconn.
Child Labor in the Developing World
Kristof makes it clear that just because working in a sweatshop might be more pleasant work than scavenging around in a toxic waste heap it doesn’t justify ignoring the working conditions in sweatshops. On the other hand, he insists that eliminating sweatshops rather than working to improve working conditions there is also the wrong tactic.
For all of the emotion induced by Hon Hai’s Neanderthal handling of the crisis and its (allegegly) reactionary labor management practices, Kristof and de Angelis remind us that the goal is to fix Foxconn, not destroy it. At the same time, they make the point that the issue of labor practices in emerging markets defies the simplistic bumper-sticker solutions proferred by advocates on either side of the issue.
Good solutions demand wisdom and a feel for local realities. That requires constant local engagement as well as credibility ans trust from all parties.
And, in the end, it requires some customer activism. The way your stuff is made is to some degree up to you. Companies will design products for consumer preferences. The next revolution in consumer goods will be to get companies to design their processes to match the concerns of their customers.