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HP, Dell, and IBM Agree to Manufacturing Code of Conduct 176

Posted by michael
from the step-in-the-right-direction dept.
JustOK writes "Yahoo! reports that IBM, Dell and HP have agreed to a code of conduct for not only workers, but the environment as well. An HP exec's statement is that the company is only responding to the company's 'globalizing in many parts of the world'." The joint press release is available, as is the code of conduct (pdf).
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HP, Dell, and IBM Agree to Manufacturing Code of Conduct

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  • Other industries (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 2.7182 (819680) on Friday October 22, 2004 @04:47PM (#10603219)
    The clothing industry actually established something like this in the 1930's. My father worked in the garment district in Manhattan and he said it made a big difference.
    • Re:Other industries (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Feminist-Mom (816033) <feminist.mom@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Friday October 22, 2004 @04:49PM (#10603241)
      Yes, that actually was initiated by the Mayor of New York, La Guardia, when he first took office. The garment industry had quite a reputation for being uncivilized. You can even get a sense of it today if you go to that part of town.
    • Re:Other industries (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kenja (541830) on Friday October 22, 2004 @04:52PM (#10603286)
      "it made a big difference."

      Yes it did. Now most clothes are made by pre-teens in third world sweatshops.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 22, 2004 @05:01PM (#10603380)

        Now most clothes are made by pre-teens in third world sweatshops.

        Yeah, it's deplorable. Some of that stuff just falls apart at the seams in no time at all! Damn kids can't get anything right...

      • recent difference (Score:3, Informative)

        by Doc Ruby (173196)
        For 70 years after such shocking events as the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire [cornell.edu], American labor organized to protect the labor market, its workers, and the economy that depends on it from the shortsighted profit hunger of American corporations. In global ports like Boston, New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere, American labor turned skills, productivity, quality and reliability into globally superior goods, filling global markets with American brands. But American corporations turned the tides in the 1980s, u
        • But American corporations turned the tides in the 1980s, undermining labor and outsourcing manufacturing to other countries without the labor or environment protections in the US, while reducing those safeguards here.

          The fundamental root cause of this exploitation is not the mean greedy management. I do not wish to imply that the management is not mean and greedy, rather this greed is enabled by the fact that the population in the developing world is exploding far faster than the economy is growing.
      • Yes it did. Now most clothes are made by pre-teens in third world sweatshops.

        "Have you ever thought about just turning off the TV, sitting down with your kids, and hitting them?"

        Are you for torturing kids or against it? You seem to contradict yourself.

    • by prell (584580) on Friday October 22, 2004 @04:59PM (#10603365) Homepage
      A generic code of conduct for all of the plants operated by a company (i.e. the same treatment, rights and possibly adjusted pay) is a very positive and heartening ideal. Treating workers in a foreign country the same as the workers in the company's home country (assuming the latter treatment is better) is, without hyperbole, one of the most important steps towards a fair world without resentment, and in which we can have a happy conscience. Imagine a clean electronics factory in a neighborhood that is otherwise strewn with rubble and terrorized by drug smugglers. It's hard to give a bad impression of the United States when their companies begin lifting people so substantially (and fairly) out of crippling poverty and other hardships.

      I paint a pretty idyllic picture, and the reality wouldn't be perfect, but I imagine it would be better than our current situation, and as a side effect it would create a (possibly artificial) quasi-level playing field, so you wouldn't see jobs bittersweetly given (outsourced) to people in other countries just because their standard of living is so low.

      Now, we just need to make this law.
      • Wait until the companies move their head offices to Taiwan.

        Equal pay for all you say?
        You mean you actually NEED a lunch break?
      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        "...but I imagine it would be better than our current situation, and as a side effect it would create a (possibly artificial) quasi-level playing field, so you wouldn't see jobs bittersweetly given (outsourced) to people in other countries just because their standard of living is so low. Now, we just need to make this law. "

        And in the meantime, bring our (US) standard of living down...just so we can all reach a low level of equilibrium....?

        Please don't make that a law. I don't mind another country's sta

      • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Friday October 22, 2004 @06:11PM (#10604162) Journal
        Now, we just need to make this law.


        WHY the HELL would you bring the GOVERNMENT into this? What the HELL are you thinking. Name one thing that the Government didn't screw up the moment it stucks its fingers into the pie?

        It is THIS kind of thinking that gets people the GWB and JFK (current) elected to office. If the damn government got out of the way and let people actually do stuff, things would be 10 times better.

        But NOOOOO. We have to have the government regulate the HELL out of everything to the point that it multiplies the cost of doing anything.

        The Government causes more problems than it solves.
        • I suppose you are trolling but as your comment is high rated, I'll give some food to thought :

          WHY the HELL would you bring the GOVERNMENT into this

          it's called democracy.

          Do you prefer to live in a world where the rules are established by a democratic government or a world where the strongest dictate their will ?

      • Treating workers in a foreign country the same as the workers in the company's home country (assuming the latter treatment is better) is, without hyperbole, one of the most important steps towards a fair world without resentment, and in which we can have a happy conscience.

        ...except that the foreign workers won't be treated the same as those in the home country. The companies are basically agreeing to comply with the laws of the nations in which the factories are located (which they must do anyway), with

    • The clothing industry actually established something like this in the 1930's. My father worked in the garment district in Manhattan and he said it made a big difference.

      The West has always been on the forefront of human rights and worker's rights. Ditto for the environment.

      Check out the last study [igc.org] by the Silicon Valley Toxics coalition. The study evaluates each computer companies' commitment to the environment. The top-ranked companies were all companies based in Western countries (e.g. Japan and th

    • "Those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it." Nike tried this. They took a lot of flak for the way the asian third-party manufacturers operate, especially in regards to the human rights of their employees.

      In response, Nike implemented several programs to enforce a formal code of conduct on their contractors, making them give their workers a bill-of-rights card to wear, pay their workers at least minimum wage, and limit their hours.

      Whenever an auditor comes, they will always learn that their
  • Can't we all just get along...? Erm... wait. Wow. I'm shocked! They are getting along!
  • What will they think of next? I guess that the dollar isn't worth as much as it once was, as it seems to take more of 'em to buy out these corp's ethics.

    Smoke that Enron!
    • The Weak Dollar (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ackthpt (218170) *
      What will they think of next? I guess that the dollar isn't worth as much as it once was, as it seems to take more of 'em to buy out these corp's ethics.

      The almighty buck is weaker than you think. There was an interesting discussion going on on alt.fan.pratchett regarding where books are coming from. Even Euro booksellers are shipping US printed copies of Going Postal (the latest book) because they can get them cheaper than the UK editions. A big clue as to which you have is the cover (US: Arm reachin

  • Man, shipping jobs overseas is old hat and the same old model applies. The low wages = low standards of living. Keep them pinned down, keep wages low. But yes, we're making profits and selling our stuff cheap. This is a rehash, anybody ever remember Phil Knight and Nike's fiasco on this? So, now it's the manufacturers turn.

    I watched the Discovery program on the IT boom in Bangalore, a few yards away, kids being left unattended while their parents work in a glass sweat shop.

    Anybody out there have some
    • This article is mainly about Hardware/Electronics companies where most of the work is done on an actual shopfloor. Usually conditions at silicon manufacturers are *far* worse than those at software companies because of environmental hazards and actual physical labor.

      Regarding your point about LOW wages in the software services business (which you call the IT Boom in Bangalore), most of the profits for companies shipping work to other countries comes *not* from paying low wages, BUT because of the *low* Co

      • "Just because they get paid 1/5th the equivalent in US Dollars does *not* mean they're working for less. It's just that it costs less to maintain a comfortable lifestyle there."

        While I freely admit I've not been there (India) and my opinions are formed completely on what I've seen on TV and read....

        I think there is a wide descrepancy between what a comfortable lifestyle is there vs. what one is here (US). The living conditions I've seen over there...even in the moderately affluent parts of cities...looks

  • No more dire working conditions at least for some workers. It is a good start. A very good start. I wonder what companies would follow this trend. Judging from which one of them I would trust to do no evil, it would be Google. From the rumors I've heard, it would be Sun. Only time will tell.
  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Friday October 22, 2004 @04:50PM (#10603265) Homepage Journal
    IBM, Dell and HP have agreed to a code of conduct for not only workers, but the environment as well.

    And they'll be clobbered by the scumbags who undercut them on price by sh!tting on the rest of the world for a buck.

    (Ok, I'm a bit down right now, because I was just looking for a jersey on eBay and see they sell tonnes of knockoffs straight out of SE Asia.)

    • by Anonymous Coward
      (Ok, I'm a bit down right now, because I was just looking for a jersey on eBay and see they sell tonnes of knockoffs straight out of SE Asia.)

      Now agreed that many of the workers in SE Asia are not treated according to our workers standards, but is the overinflated price that we pay for licensed apparel (esp. shoes) really worth paying? Maybe this will drive local-made prices to reasonable levels, without harming quality and/or workers rights. (Same thing that will hopefully happen here)
    • And they'll be clobbered by the scumbags who undercut them on price by sh!tting on the rest of the world for a buck.
      That's why this needs to be law :-)
      • That's why this needs to be law :-)

        There are and have been trade laws. Notice many people in SE Asia actually obeying them? It was rather impressive that PRC finally refused to accept anymore high tech trash from the USA (which was polluting streams and ground water), but I'm hearing quite a bit in news how little control the central govt of even that country has on every little enterprise. Taiwan has major problems with metals in their well water (I think they import most of their drinking water now,

    • Aw, man, poor guy. Hey, to cheer you up, I'll let you borrow the new anime DVDs I got in from China last week.
    • by SuperBanana (662181) on Friday October 22, 2004 @05:32PM (#10603680)
      And they'll be clobbered by the scumbags who undercut them on price by sh!tting on the rest of the world for a buck.

      No, because IBM, Dell, and HP will all just use convoluted supply and manufacturing chains, and guard their supplier's identities as best they can.

      Why? Obfuscation and "plausible deniability". Every time a human rights organization actually manages to figure out what sweatshop is actually making (insert major fashion label here), the label acts all shocked, says "Gosh, we had NO idea, we have POLICIES to PREVENT this sort of thing, we TOLD them we didn't want them to use sweatshop labor, heads will ROLL!" So they simply find another company, in secret of course, and the whole thing repeats all over again.

      We need human rights laws, both nationally and on an international level- backed up by hard monetary sanctions scaled so that they make it completely unprofitable, not just a slap on the wrist. The world court should be able to command banks of UN member nations to seize the assets of the company involved so they can't hide behind foreign incorporation (and most major US companies now do- they're incorporated out of a PO box in the islands- also handy for getting out of taxes, and they do that too; current corporate share of tax burden is about 2%; in 1950 it was 50%).

      • Obfuscation and "plausible deniability". Every time a human rights organization actually manages to figure out what sweatshop is actually making (insert major fashion label here), the label acts all shocked, says "Gosh, we had NO idea, we have POLICIES to PREVENT this sort of thing, we TOLD them we didn't want them to use sweatshop labor, heads will ROLL!" So they simply find another company, in secret of course, and the whole thing repeats all over again.

        Sadly, this happens in lots of other places as we

    • Not very long. Today's stock movement:

      HP: Down 0.42 to 17.94
      Dell: Down 0.43 to 35.01
      IBM: Down 0.71 to 87.39

      Obviously stock price movement won't just be tied to this, but the markets sure don't seem to be happy either.
  • by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Friday October 22, 2004 @04:51PM (#10603273) Journal
    Something tells me that their 'envirnomental' protections they are agreeing to would get them thrown into prison if used in Europe or America.
    • Something tells me that their 'envirnomental' protections they are agreeing to would get them thrown into prison if used in Europe or America.

      Remember when Wal-Mart would carry American Made goods? That lasted how long after Sam Walton died? Fifteen seconds?

      In America (even under King George) companies must respect the environment, but you can't stem the tide only with manufacturers, you have to hold the retailers up to scrutiny.

    • You can't possibly get thrown into prison in America for any amount of environmental devastation at all, unless you provably did it with direct intent to harm some specific person. As long as your just "doing business" the worst you can get is a fine, and not a very big one at that.
  • "Child Labor Child labor is not to be used in any stage of manufacturing. The term "child" refers to any person employed under the age of 15 (or 14[...]" This IS GOOD! BRAVO! However... Some C/C++ prodigies might get hurt, or will they? BTW, what is the expected age of programming prodigies to attain professional level? 14, 16, 18? I think Linus was something like closer to 20 or something.
    • Re:It's good! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Ignignot (782335) on Friday October 22, 2004 @04:56PM (#10603342) Journal
      By definition a prodigy is someone who is exceptionally young to do what he or she is capable of doing. For example, Mozart was a child prodigy, not because he could write amazing music, but because he was an exceptional pianist. (Which later helped him write music). So I'd say that a prodigy programmer would have to be younger than 13. At least.
    • You're right around 16, aren't you. Easy on the hubris, killer...=P
  • Kudos to all involved. I haven't read the actual agreement yet, but from the article it sounds like a very promising begining. Technology and computers these days are great, and I hope they keeps going strong, but I'd hate to see people trampled on along the way. Now, I guess thats one less thing to have to worry about, eh?
  • Do as HP says not as HP does [theregister.co.uk].
  • by Cade144 (553696) * on Friday October 22, 2004 @04:53PM (#10603308) Homepage
    Man, I just love it when PR-types find new uses and abuses for the English language.
    My favorite businesspeak phrase in the article:
    An HP executive said the companies were not responding to anything other than the fact that "we are globalizing in many parts of the world."

    Yeah, globalization, would, by it's very nature, occur in many parts of the world. Sheesh!

    • Yeah, globalization, would, by it's very nature, occur in many parts of the world.

      "Globalization" is a euphamism for "corporate colonialism". Substitute in the proper variation of that phrase when you "globaliz*" and it makes a lot more sense.

      The offending excerpt becomes:

      An HP executive said the companies were not responding to anything other than the fact that "we are
      colonizing in many parts of the world."
  • by FerretFrottage (714136) on Friday October 22, 2004 @04:59PM (#10603361)
    As opposed to globalizing in just one part of the world?

    "we are globalizing in many parts of the world." == we are shopping jobs to those areas where our cost is the least and will enable us to maximize profit. Typical pump-up shareholder stuff, typical another worker in a higher paying region loses a job.

    • "It has been said that arguing against globalization is like arguing against the laws of gravity."
      -Kofi Annan, Ghanaian diplomat, seventh secretary-general of the United Nations, 2001 Nobel Peace Prize

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday October 22, 2004 @05:12PM (#10603497) Homepage Journal
    This is what corporations do when they give Congress an excuse to "deregulate": "police themselves". This agreement has no teeth for violations, as it's just a mutual agreement, public relations. If they standardize their global labor contracts, and commit to these standards in those contracts, with specified consequences for breaking them (contractual or under enforcable local laws), they'll have something. Until then, all they've written is a "get out of jail free" card.
    • by saintp (595331) <stpierreNO@SPAMnebrwesleyan.edu> on Friday October 22, 2004 @05:22PM (#10603594) Homepage
      Agreed! Everyone else seems to be too busy giving the companies cockrubs to notice that the agreement basicall says: "We'll follow all the laws of the country, and, in addition, we won't kill anyone. On purpose. Unless they deserve it."

      What I'd like to see is an agreement that says:

      a. We'll follow all labor laws of the U.S.

      b. We'll pay a liveable wage (which is an altogether different beast from minimum wage).

      That would be an impressive step in the right direction. This is just pablum. Stop applauding them for coming up to a basic level of expected decency.

      • This agreement is the thin edge of the wedge to dragging US employment standards down to that of, say, China. They build their labor policies on this announcement, to which most of the US electronics brands subscribe when the dust settles. The lobby for labor laws to be written in terms of this policy. Then they find an excuse to lower the standards to, say, Chinese local laws, based on competition, or some contrived lawsuit, or because "the time is right". Then there are so many laws, contracts and precede
    • Well, they just made the charter public, and they had more than one company agree to it. Now if any one company does anything that violates these guidelines, the other companies will initiate legal actions (It's in there, RTFPDF). Plus, they will be up for public humiliation by the press, which results in (you guessed it), lost profits!
      • They've created a cartel, and are as likely to let each other slide, in a codependency that collaborates to lower standards for all of them. And their current practices haven't generated any public (*cough* Enron *cough*) humiliation in the corporate media. That's why we have laws - these people have no shame, and little accountability.
  • by acidrain (35064) on Friday October 22, 2004 @05:14PM (#10603519)
    How about publishing lowest wage paid anywhere along the supply chain? I'd like to have the lowest Euros/hour paid right next to the price tag on all goods in stores. It should be international law, and developed countries insist on it for all imports...

    How would you react to seeing two toasters: one for $20, with a minimum wage of $3, and another for $18 with a minimum wage of $1?
    • I'd purchase the $18 toaster, seeing that it was made more efficiently.

      Back in college I was an office boy earning $4.15/hour, but the work I was doing was worth maybe $2/hour. Minimum wage laws are stupid--and ironically enough, end up hurting those at the low end of the job market (by pricing them out of jobs).

      • by MacFury (659201)
        Yeah...because working 40 hours a week for $2 an hour earns you more than enough money to buy the essential food, water and shelter.

        Abolish the minimum wage law and you create even richer rich people and even poorer poor people.

        • Re:Um... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Bob Uhl (30977) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {24dnumdae}> on Friday October 22, 2004 @06:31PM (#10604337) Homepage
          Sigh--that's the kind of economic illiteracy which will spell the doom of our nation.

          If a candy bar is worth 50 cents to you but costs $7, will you buy it? Of course not--you'll do without. Likewise, if a job is worth $2/hr, but costs $5/hr, it won't be done. The effect of the minimum wage is thus to change that job from a $2/hr job to a $0/hr job.

          There are plenty of jobs which can be satisfactorily performed by those who don't need to buy food, water or shelter: we call these people teenagers. Why should a job be done for more money when it can be done for less?

          Note that low wages are not actually a problem in the US. My kid brother makes $9/hour working in fast food, for Pete's sake! Employers pay more than the legal minimum wage precisely because jobs are actually worth more than that, and because they realise that they are in competition with other employers for labour (even when I was a kid working in fast food, I made more than minimum wage).

          Indeed, what the Congress typically does is wait until the prevailing wage is well above the minimum, and then adjust the minimum to be slightly therebelow. This minimises the economic disruption an actual minimum wage would cause.

          Or, to put it differently, if a minimum wage of $7/hr is such a good idea, why not make it $1,000/hr and make everyone rich? Work that out, and you'll understand.

          • Or, like most minimum wage jobs they will expect 3 times the productivity out of you. If they pay you $6 an hour to do what would be comfortably done at $2 an hour the diffrence is going to have to be made up. Some will be taken by raising prices, again screwing the person makeing minimum wage, some will be taken by profit margine, screwing the people doing the hireing, the lions share will be taken by slave driving the minimum wage person to 200% of what a resonably productive person should do.

      • by jsebrech (525647) on Friday October 22, 2004 @06:22PM (#10604262)
        I'd purchase the $18 toaster, seeing that it was made more efficiently.

        A fine member of the human race you are. Your genes will surely survive your equals.

        Back in college I was an office boy earning $4.15/hour, but the work I was doing was worth maybe $2/hour. Minimum wage laws are stupid--and ironically enough, end up hurting those at the low end of the job market (by pricing them out of jobs).

        The basic philosophy behind minimum wage laws is that if you work a full work week, you should be able to have enough money to feed, clothe and otherwise care for you and your immediate family. In the absence of minimum wage laws jobs have only to pay well enough to improve the quality of life beyond joblessness, which doesn't need to mean that it necessarily actually provides anything approximating a quality of life we would consider "humane". Without minimum wage laws people will literally work themselves to death, as long as that death arrives later than it otherwise would have.

        The one strong argument against minimum wage laws is that in the presence of minimum wage laws some jobs aren't created, and so people who would otherwise take those jobs make nothing instead of making something. However, it's an argument bred from shortsightedness, pessimism and laziness, from the belief that it is acceptable to merely aim for survival, instead of a healthy world economy which serves all, and that it is foolish to even try to do better. But then maybe I'm a hopeless utopian for believing we can improve upon a worldwide economic system that statistically doesn't do all that much better than that of the middle ages, with a large group of people having as their best choice something akin to slavery.
        • The basic philosophy behind minimum wage laws is that if you work a full work week, you should be able to have enough money to feed, clothe and otherwise care for you and your immediate family.

          Which is stupid. There are a large number of people, quite capable of working, who do not need to feed, clothe or shelter a family: children. Teenagers, in particular. There's another large number of folks who don't need to care for a family: single people. There's another group of folks who only need to care fo

    • by be-fan (61476) on Friday October 22, 2004 @05:28PM (#10603648)
      That'd be nothing more than political misinformation. To give the real picture, you'd have to, along with those wages, also give a detailed break-down of cost-of-living in the area where the lowest-wage job was, and also include statistics about how that low-wage offset what would otherwise be unemployment in that area.
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Friday October 22, 2004 @05:15PM (#10603533) Journal

    Where are these companies?

    and Yes, MS is into hardware these days. While they may not directly manufacture the devices, they buy them from others. Do they go with the cheapest, od do they buy only from quality companies?

    Likewise Sun. How do they act outside of a regulated area?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Section C, subset 4 which states
    "Air Emissions
    Air emissions of volatile organic chemicals, aerosols, corrosives, particulates, ozone depleting chemicals, and combustion by-products generated from operations and the massive eating of curry are to be treated as required prior to discharge and entry to work."

    is this a hint at more outsourcing in the future?
  • by 3nuff (824173)
    America is going to have to expect to pay more for goods and services, just like the rest of the world.

    Our exploitation can only last so long before we run out of countries to exploit.

    Ugggh!
  • I don't know about the rest, but IBM doesn't make most of their own computers. They contract it out to companies like Sanmina-SCI, Solectron and others. S-SCI has moved most of the work to Mexico. But given IBM's relationship with their contractors, they may decide to slide this in after the contracts are signed.
  • "companies must comply with minimum-wage laws; and overtime and benefits policies must be in accordance with the law where the factories are located." Okay, that's well and great, but many/most of these factories are located in export processing zones where the laws are way more lax than the countries in which they are located. It sounds like another hollow attempt to appease people with consciences. Great marketing ploy!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    These companies are trying to self-regulate the industry for these reasons:
    1) Look better in the public eyes
    2) They hope that if they self-regulate, governments won't regulate them
    3) With self-regulaton they can optimize the conditions for large corporations. This will help them to fight off smaller competitors, who can't afford to comply.

    What is really missing is a new Consumer's Bill of RIght in Global Economies.

    Corporations pushed forward for laws, regulations which opens up free flow of capital, inves
  • by melted (227442) on Friday October 22, 2004 @05:54PM (#10603957) Homepage
    "60 hour work weeks except in some circumstances" - it's 6 days a week 10 hours per day

    "children 14 and above are considered adults where law permits"

    "hazardous waste to be "characterized"

    It's littered with zero-accountability phrases like this. The range in which this document can be interpreted is pretty wild.

    Sounds like "get out of the jail free" document to me.

    As a side note, if their foreign workers aren't even getting this much respect, then I see why everything coming out of third world is so cheap. It's all made by 14 year old kids working 12 hours a day six days a week without any protection, medical insurance, etc.

    I've lost any desire to buy anything from HP, IBM or anyone else involved in this crap. Give me "made in the US" label or give me death.
  • THIS is exactly the way things OUGHT to be. Forget Government regulations which do nothing but cause problems. In addition, these three companies have banded together in a unified way to do something GOOD (tm) for no just the US of A, but everyone.

    These guys did NOT have to partner with their COMPETITORS to come up with something, let alone this.

    However, I hate to be the bearer of bad news. This is NOT going to be good enough for some wacked out leftwing unibomber types. I am willing to bet that there is
    • Is it not naive to think that corporate self regulation is like the tax system, i.e. you can get away with anything till your caught. And without any sort of third party to monitor compliance, do we just assume that everything is fine?
  • by tsotha (720379) on Friday October 22, 2004 @07:30PM (#10604984)
    I don't understand how this will actually help. No, I'm not trolling. Look, people work in those sweatshops for a reason - because where they live it's the best they can do. Sometimes the sweatshop job is an alternative to nothing - is sewing shoes for Nike all day really worse than, say, prostitution or digging through garbage? Is it worse than back-breaking manual labor?

    There are really only two ways this can go - either the multinationals will use shell companies to get around it, or lots of people in the very poorest countries will lose their jobs. Either they'll be replaced by machines, or by workers in countries with a better infrastructure. So jobs would move from, say, the poorest areas of Guatemala to slightly-less-poor areas in Eastern Europe, where the wage/infrastructure ratio is a better fit to the agreement.

    Also, I'm all for getting rid of child labor, but if the child is feeding his family, who is being helped by throwing him out of work? Child labor laws only make sense in countries that are wealthy enough to give people an alternative to starvation if the child doesn't work (because he's an orphan, or has sick parents, etc).

    This is a classic example of applying rich-world-thinking to places it doesn't make sense. These people need jobs - as many as they can get. I'd rather see 1000 people making just enough to feed their families than 500 making twice as much and 500 starving.

    If you really want to help people in the third world, the best way is to stop subsidizing the destruction of poor-country economies. A good place to start would be the abolition of farm subsidies in the rich world. Rich world farm subsidies have destroyed the major source of work in the less developed (mostly agrarian) countries. That's what creates the huge pool of jobless workers available for factory jobs. Does it seem reasonable a farmer in California can grow rice (which reqires lots of irrigation in California) and ship it to Asia and undercut a farmer who's making virtually nothing compared to the American farmer?

    How about having real free trade, not just free trade when no first-world jobs are in danger? How about cutting some of the reasonable-sounding regulations that exist solely to keep out third-world competition. How about not lending development money to corrupt governments (so they can buy military hardware from the lender) and then saddling the next three generations of the country with a debt-induced inflationary spiral?

    If these people had an alternative to sweatshop work, the Nikes of the world would have to compete for their labor. Then you would have a real improvement in the lives of poor people around the world and not just some salve for the conscience of well-meaning people in rich countries.

    But, hey, isn't it all about people in the rich world feeling better?

  • Effectiveness?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by asciiwhite (679872) * <{asciiwhite} {at} {gmail.com}> on Friday October 22, 2004 @08:16PM (#10605402)
    Without any legal obligation to stay within the outlined proposal it's impact will be very little, besides good PR... All corporations have to compete, and the second any one of these outlined 'Code of conducts', interfear with competition is the second it's dropped.

    Corporations currently have all legal duty to the shareholders which is above social and environmental issues. Shareholders will and have kicked out CEO'S when their human approach to business interfeared with profits.

  • by RoadWarriorX (522317) on Friday October 22, 2004 @10:13PM (#10606106) Homepage
    Forced, bonded or indentured labor or involuntary prison labor is not to be used. All work will be voluntary, and workers should be free to leave upon reasonable notice. Workers shall not be required to hand over government-issued identification, passports or work permits as a condition of employment.

    I wish I can have employment with presenting identification. Alas, I must also submit to a background check, a credit check and a drug test.
    • Workers shall not be required to hand over government-issued identification, passports or work permits as a condition of employment.

      I wish I can have employment with presenting identification. Alas, I must also submit to a background check, a credit check and a drug test.

      I'm not sure, but I have a dark feeling that this is not refering to ID per se, but to employers actully holding employees' passports in thier possesion during thier term of employment and using that to make it difficult for employees

  • Seriously, I'm tired of people bringing in computers to the computer repair shop I work at running Windows XP with 128 fucking megs of RAM. When will these companies QUIT DOING THAT?! Windows XP simply CANNOT run on 128M of RAM at a rate anything better than 'mediocre'. Add antivirus software, which is a MUST now, and you've got a system that runs like crap because it's constantly paging to the hard drive! I'm sick of it! Then when I call people and tell them they need more RAM, and their bill would be arou
  • ...weren't interested in the original story that I highlighted to them back on February 5 2004.

    Wilful "Hear no Evil, See no Evil", or just an arrogant lack of compassion for anything that doesn't directly affect geeks (like, say, the differences between different releases of the Star Wars films)?

    You decide.

    The original reports and campaign from CAFOD can be found around here [cafod.org.uk].

    --

I cannot conceive that anybody will require multiplications at the rate of 40,000 or even 4,000 per hour ... -- F. H. Wales (1936)

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