THE SWEATSHOP LOBBY

The corporate chorus sings with perfect harmony about the glories of globalization, insisting that all countries simply must re-write their laws to let the benefits of globalization flow to all. So... now that China has stepped forth to open the flow – why are the corporate globalists suddenly in a protectionist panic, mounting the most furious lobbying effort ever to shut off the benefits?

The corporate chorus sings with perfect harmony about the glories of globalization, insisting that all countries simply must re-write their laws to let the benefits of globalization flow to all. So… now that China has stepped forth to open the flow – why are the corporate globalists suddenly in a protectionist panic, mounting the most furious lobbying effort ever to shut off the benefits?

Because the benefits that China is proposing don’t go to the corporate elite, but to ordinary people. Pushed by popular demand, the Chinese government has proposed a reform package that would lift the wages of workers and extend basic democratic rights to the workplace. Oh, good gracious no, screamed the likes of Wal-Mart, Google, General Electric, and Microsoft – globalization is supposed to protect our investments and profits, not the people!

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So the sweatshop lobby has descended on China like a plague of locusts, demanding that the new labor law be repudiated. These global giants had moved factories there specifically to slash their labor costs. Not only could they pay poverty wages in China, but they could then use the deplorable pay and conditions there as a sledgehammer to knock down workers everywhere.

China, which now constitutes about 25 percent of the global work force, has become the global standard for low wages and poor working conditions in industry after industry. If, then, China were to lift its standard, people around the world could be lifted – an ironic reverse benefit of globalization.

This has led to major corporate heart palpitations and an unseemly, embarrassing, self-serving lobbying blitz in China by brand-name corporations to stop true globalization in its tracks. They’ve had some success there, but now there’s a growing global backlash against their greed. To learn more, contact the watchdog group, Global Labor Strategies: www.laborstrategies.org.

“Tug of War Over China’s New Labor Law,” www.truthout.org, April 5, 2007

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