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By: Mac-Z Zurawski
The global labor force is ever expanding while human rights abuses abound. We are constantly barraged with stories of factories burning down taking workers with the flames. Chinese workers are in upheaval at Apple factories. All the while, consumer spending on these cheaply produced products sky rocket. Wal-Mart, one of the biggest distributors of goods made through International Labor Organization (ILO) violations, serves 100 million customers throughout the day. Alibaba wants to invest $500 billion to create even more labor violation products in China (Carsten, 10-13-13). These companies need to understand that labor unrest damages long term investment. A countries GNP may substantially increase as more jobs abound but we must ask ourselves, who is contributing to GNP? One rich person could be the entire increase in GNP.
Companies consistently invest in machinery, warehouses, and global transportation contracts and much more in the name of long term investment. All of these items are worthless when long term labor costs are not efficiently included. Presently, countries violation payouts are low. But this is changing with global unrest. The South African miner strikes has contributed to the 4 year low value of the Rand (Ballie, 5-16-13). This is just one story of many. The ILO reported a smaller GDP contribution by labor wages negatively affects countries prosperity (ILO, 12-7-12). The trend is evident-a devalued labor investment harms countries abundance.
Change the course
Governments around the world need to make more and better decisions for their citizen labor. As Multinational Corporations (MNCs) challenge the rights and advocacy of states these same states are losing their citizen labor. Emerging countries such as Brazil have implemented fair labor practices including compelling MNCs to hire Brazilian workers and allowing union bargaining and expansion. Brazil has quickly emerged as a self-sufficient and abundant country. The government’s investment in labor rights is partly to owe. The more labor is paid, the more they contribute to the national economy as a whole. MNCs do not have loyalty to any one economy due to their transnational structure. They create obstacles for higher wages, environmental destruction and loss of long term stability from their “move on” attitude if political and business elements are not in their favor. A country housing such a venture only profits from what is sold in the country and what labor can reinvest through wages. Labor wages are now the most direct method of market and economic expansion but limited due to low wages. Increasing wages and labor force health are the focus of labor unions.
As the global workforce becomes more entwined with MNCs, states need to rely more on labor citizens for better economic investment. Unions enforce fair and increased wages, medical benefits, housing subsidies (especially for those workers working in inhabitable areas) and retention of a long term labor force. Unions have lower employee turnover making the costs of training decrease. Unions encourage healthy and safe working conditions decreasing ILO and state violation fines besides worker damage awards. There are many more benefits that can be formed per job.
States must increase their use of fair labor practices as a vital contribution to their economy. A quick glance at the city of Detroit and the lack of labor wages contributing to the American economy are proof that more unions equals more economic stability.
The global work force and economy are now more tied to the service of more workers than ever. Every continent has seen increases in workforce activity yet very little wage activity. If that doesn’t change, the Detroit Domino Effect will occur.
Mac-Z Zurawski is an adjunct professor of International Studies/Politics at Chicago State University. She is an experienced adult educator, political scientist, writer, blogger and social activist in political science and sociology. Feel free to contact her regarding new consulting, adjunct and seminar opportunities at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Summary of the Global Wage Report 2012/13.” International Labor Organization.org. 7 December 2012. http://www.ilo.org/global/research/global-reports/global-wage-report/2012/WCMS_194844/lang–en/index.htm.