Human Relations Discussion

For the purpose of this discussion, we will define “sweatshop” as any worksite which has unreasonably authoritative overseers, dangerous and unhealthy (physically and psychologically) working conditions, enforces long hours and low pay, and may employ child labor. (Please review current corporate examples I provided in the Announcement this week.),

Many economists believe that sweatshops are a necessary condition/step in the modernization of all developing countries. Please read the following summary.

Two Faces of Ethics and Economic Development

The ILO (International Labor Organization) of the United Nations passed a declaration in 1998 equating worker rights and human rights including freedom of association; the elimination of compulsory labor; the abolition of child labor, and elimination of discrimination in the workplace. However, they find that “corporate profit often results in lack of adherence to this declaration”.

International Labor Organization of the UN

Your challenge:

Your company operates highly profitable sites in developing countries. Those sites have long hours, no employee safety regulations and there is no age requirement for workers. Although wages are very low, employees are making more money than they thought possible. Your company is exceeding all profit expectations. Your union does not represent employees in sites outside the US, but they have repeatedly expressed human rights concerns about the dire employee working conditions at those sites. The union plans to go public with their concerns. Respond to one of the following.

1. Take the role of the corporation CEO and provide an argument in support of your workplaces abroad providing three statements of the rationale and a conclusion.

Or,

2. As CEO make an argument acknowledging the need for change and specify those changes planned.

For either scenario, as CEO you are speaking for your board and management and you are responding to union and public concerns.

This discussion is very real and very timely as it is currently taking place in the US and across the global marketplace. Your awareness regarding both sides of this moral, ethical, and financial dilemma is central to labor relations, multi-national companies, and 4IR.

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