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Ethics and International Affairs: Sweatshops and Wages (Essay Sample)

Description - Maitland advocates a ‘classical liberal' approach to determining appropriate wages and working conditions for sweatshop workers, whereas Arnold and Bowie argue for a living wage, with commensurate work and safety conditions. Explain each author's argument. What is the correct approach for multi-national enterprises to use in determining appropriate wages, work, and safety conditions for sweatshop workers? Defend your answer carefully and in detail (critical analysis of the arguments throughout - critique and defend them - then determine which is the best ) • In your paper you must: a) Give a clear explanation of the position you will argue for. b) Defend your position thoroughly (i.e., with good arguments, clearly explained). c) Raise objections against your position (i.e., discuss how your opponent would respond to you). d) Give a decisive response to these objections source..
Ethics and International Affairs Name Institution’s Name There has been an intense argument by the labor and human rights activists with regard to the contracting arrangement by the international companies. Specifically, the critics are concerned with the international corporations, also referred to as international sweatshops, which are exploiting their workers in the plants (Maitland, 2003). The companies are accused of looking for cheap labor around the globe; and consequently, do not pay their workers a living wage. Moreover, claims that these companies have also been using child labor and turning a blind eye to the abuses of human rights. They are also accused of collaborating with repressive regimes in denying workers the right to join unions and also have failed to enforce minimum labor standards in the workplace. Further, this has raised an argument on which is the right method to pay the sweatshop workers. While Maitland advocates a ‘classical liberal’ approach to determine the appropriate wages and working conditions for sweatshop workers, Arnold and Bowie proposes for a living wage, with commensurate work and safety conditions. This paper, henceforth, looks at the two arguments with the aim of establishing the correct approach for multi-national enterprises to use in determining appropriate and ethically acceptable wages, work, and safety conditions for sweatshop workers. Evidently, according to the utilitarian principle and Kantian principle, classical liberal approach is ethical when used to determine appropriate wages and working conditions. The living wage standard proposes that an international corporation should at least pay their workers a “living wage.” Actually, the corporations should pay this even when the other local firms are not in a position to do so. Although it is hard to describe that which is operationally right, Arnold and Bowie (2003) claims that a living wage should at least allow a worker to live in dignity as a human being. Similarly, in order to respect the rights of the employees, the corporations need to pay its staff at the minimum, the subsistence wages that the workers together with their dependents need to live with a reasonable dignity and with respect to the general state of development of the society. On the other hand, classical liberal standards are a wage or labor practice that is acceptable if it is chosen by informed workers. Mainly, this is supported by the Word Bank, which claims that the appropriate level of wages is the one at which the costs are commensurate with the value that informed workers place on the improved working conditions along with the reduced risks. Although Maitland (2003) considers classical liberal standard to be ethically acceptable, most of the business ethicist think otherwise. They claim that this standard is not worthy owing to the fact that there is some sort of market failure or some background information that is lacking for the markets to be in a position to work effectively. Moreover, Degeorge (1993) notes that full employment is always a prerequisite if workers will be able to make sound choices with regard to their work place safety. Inherently, it is only with full employment that the market forces will encourage the workers to make tradeoffs between the job opportunities using safety as a variable. However, a number of countries currently suffer from massive unemployment market forces that, as a result, drive the unemployed to the jobs they are lucky enough to land, regardless of safety. Essentially, classical liberal standards are more ethical as compared to the living wage standards. International sweatshops should hence consider the classical liberal approach in determining appropriate wages and working conditions for their workers. Firstly, while adopting this standard it is always important to make sure that the workers will enjoy the right conditions to be in a position to determine the appropriate wage (Maitland, 2003). Currently, there are reports that the international sweatshops pay wages which are essentially higher and comparable to the wages in the labor markets where they do operate. Mostly, they operate in the developing world countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia Vietnam, Taiwan and other East Asian countries. Further, it is important to note that according to the International Labor Organization, the international corporations have for long been employing standards, mainly in relation to the wages, benefits, condition of work, together with occupational safety, that do exceed the minimum statutory requirement in the countries they operate in and also the standards exceed those of the local companies. It is clearly true that the international sweatshops have become dream working places for a number of people in most of the countries they operate in. This is depicted testimonies that the sweatshops, in countries like Honduras and Guatemala, normally witness conspicuous long lines of waiting young people outside their gates who are hoping to get a chance to at least fill a job application to be employed in the corporations. This supports the fact that the working conditions in the international sweatshops exceed, by far, the conditions in the local firms and as a result this has attracted many workers. Moreover, there are no reports that indicate that workers in the sweatshops have been discriminated against. The sweatshops are known to consider the diversity of their workers, which includes various aspects such as religion. Specifically, one of the sweatshops, that is, Nike Serang plant, has been noted to close 10 days each year during the Muslim holidays. Moreover, a survey by Ernst & Young on Nike workers reveals that the workers’ pay, attitude towards the job, and safety condition in the corporations are extremely high (Maitland, 2003). This is supported by the fact that most of the corporation’s plants have been able to retain most of its workers, for instance, the Taiwanese plant owners claimed 94 percent of its workers normally return back to the plant after the company breaks. Basically, these arguments support the fact that classical liberal standards are ethical. Rachels (2009) claims that utilitarian moral theories direct one into engaging into actions that will have best outcomes or consequences. Specifically, an action is considered to be morally acceptable if the action or rules result in greater good of the greatest number of people. The greatest good can be measured in terms of wellbeing, money, happiness, or pleasure. Classical liberal standards aim at promoting the greatest good of the workers as well as of the countries. For instance, in the countries where the sweatshops are found in, the countries have experienced an improvement in their economic status despite the fact that the corporations will have to dig dipper into their pockets. Similarly, according to Floridi (2010), Kantian ethical theory is based on the idea of moral duty, which purports that an action will only be good if it is done out of duty, rather than done out of desire or pure need. He claims that, whether an action is mandatory, it should not rely on the consequences, but on forces behind the action, along with compliance with categorical imperative principles. Notably, categorical imperative principle reasons that one should select a course of action with a view of initiating a policy, which can be adopted by everyone or even more, be willed into being a universal law. The classical liberal law focuses not on achieving the legal duty to pay the workers the living wage, but on what the workers and company deem to be right. This further makes the standards to be ethical. On the other hand, there are those who claim that paying the some workers higher than other workers in other firms in the same country will result to increased inequality among the citizens. As a result, these critics claim that international sweatshops should hence adopt a living wage method so as to make all the workers in every country same. Mainly, if the corporations are to adopt living wage, it means that the workers’ wages will have to drop from the current position. Notably, the workers who will be affected are those in the developing countries where the living standards are low (Maitland, 2003). However, ethically speaking, it is not right to commit a felony because the majority is committing a felony. Actually, if the critics agree that the local firms pay poor wages to their workers with respect to the international standards, it is therefore not reasonable for the international corporations to also embrace the same. Arnold and Bowie (2003) also claim that sweatshops do not have respect for persons. That is, most of the international corporations engage in exploitation of workers. One of the reasons behind this argument is the fact that workers in the developing nations are not offered a chance to have social service agencies or recourse to law. More importantly, activist of living wage also protests frequently in appeal to human dignity and human rights. However, evidence shows that the working conditions in the international sweatshops exceed, by far, the conditions in the local firms and as a result this has attracted many workers. Moreover, there are no reports that indicate that workers in the sweatshops ha...
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