Unfair companies and refugees

Thoughts on socialism and leftism generally

Unfair companies and refugees

Postby Yessica » 03 Jul 2014, 11:32

Recently there has been a discussion about refugees in Germany - not sure if any of you noticed.

It was caused by some of them occupying a school to protest the "Residenzpflicht", which says a asylum seeker may not choose his place of residence within Germany.
Some places (such as Berlin) are more popular and they wanted to stay there and are granted that right now.

I have been reading the comment section on some of the articles and one opinion put forward was "We must allow more refugees - after all we cause poverty in their country by buying goods produced in unfair conditions such as clothing".

I think we can take the fact for granted that most clothes are produced in unfair conditions - some are produced in slave labour... but does it make us responsible for that?

1. First of all: Do we benefit from it? Germany has a cloth industry, 44% of the clothes are exported. Germany would be able to cloth it's own population and still export. In fact it does export more clothes (in Euro worth) than it does import. I did not know that by way before I looked it up.

The biggest exporteurs of clothing are
1. China
2. Hong Kong
3. Italy
4. Germany

There are two Asian and two European nations but no African nations amongst the biggest exporters of clothes.

Do we benefit from low wages? I do not think so. I heard that wages are only 10 cent per T-Shirt. Wages could be doubly or three times as high and we wouldn't even notice.
International companies benefit.

2. Would the conditions in the countries selling clothes be better, if we did not buy them?

China is the biggest exporter of clothing. Reportedly China uses slave labour of political prisoners. Most likely it is also used in clothing industry.

I try not to buy anything Chinese because of that... would the living conditions of political prisoners in China however be better if we did not buy their goods?

I simply don't know.

Would China let their political prisoners leave the country so they could seek asylum in Germany instead of having to do slave labour? Definetly not.

3. Is anything we buy really produced in Afrika? I have been told that their clothes industry has been nearly destoyed by cheap stuff from China (and donated clothes from the West)?
I cannot think of anything I ever bought from Africa - apart from some "fair trade" products bought at a church shop.

It is a complicated topic and I haven't made my mind up yet.
I think I mentioned before that in my old country there was forced labour and companies such as IKEA and Aldi benefited greatly from that. I try to echew those companies.
On the other hand the political prisoners not working for them worked in the mines or on the rail way and working conditions were even worse.

What is your opinion? Do we owe the people in Asia for buying their products? Does anybody worldwide who bought IKEA furniture in the 1970s or 1980s owe Germans?

Do you by the way know what Europe does import from Africa? I couldn't find much useful information.
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