Wednesday

Sweatshops or Faster Growth?

"The mountainous kingdom surrounded completely by South Africa is often cited as one of AGOA's success stories, selling trendy clothes to US stores like Gap, Kmart and JC Penney. In 2002 it exported $318 million in clothes and textiles to the United States under AGOA, out of the $803.3 million earned from such exports by AGOA-eligible states. During that year, east African powerhouse Kenya earned only $129.2 million from textiles and apparel exports to America. [...] 'We expect to make further, faster progress still,' Malie added. Malie said Taiwan firm Nien Shein was investing $135 million in a new denim and fabric mill, which would further expand growth in the sector and deliver more jobs - key to social and political stability in the kingdom. Manufacturing has become the leading employer in Lesotho, replacing the government. It is a boon for the kingdom where drought has forced donor agencies to provide food handouts to thousands of people over the past two years."
"Further, faster progress" and sweatshops. Sweatshops and "further, faster progress." Can we ever get rid of sweatshops and still have "further, faster progress?" A Mosotho Gap factory worker was stabbed in the neck with a pair of scissors by the plant manager. She was participating in protests against harsh and unfair conditions when it happened. She claims it was an intentional stabbing by the manager, whereas the manager claims it was all an unfortunate accident. Watch the video.

Does Sweatshops and further, faster progress still look like a good tandem, assuming it did? Yes and no, in my case. Yes, because if it was my call, right here and right now, just like it is the government of Lesotho's, I don't know how I would put food into the mouths of that lady's children. So I'd advise her to continue working. And no, because that fellow should pay for stabbing that woman in the neck with a damn pair of scissors. Tough call, isn't it? Perhaps if the scissors-happy manager was kicked out of Lesotho the remaining ones would be afraid enough not to attempt the same....

I just don't know. But, of course, the important thing is that the government has to know, and I hope they kicked his bum out of the country, which I doubt very much because the grapevine says conditions haven't changed for the better at all!