Extraordinary, insightful and humane: These are the words that came to my mind upon reading Kevin Rafferty’s July 24 article, “Obama’s blunder with Bangladesh.”
Corporate world thinking is archaic. Business models need to change from their basic 50-to-100-year-old ways. Low-cost manufacturing without improved labor conditions, except when absolutely necessary due to unrest or strikes, is a very old idea.
The utopian dream that things are slowly improving amid the deluge of news about the high-end technologies we’ve developed creates the impression that we’ll soon have a world where robots do everything for us and we all can just go off on a leisure cruise.
Well, the poor have perhaps more modest dreams — like buying utensils or a second hand scooter.
It would be appalling if the garment industry in Bangladesh is seriously affected [as a result of the recent garment factory collapse that killed more than 1,100 people]. As for the corporations, the day is not far off when they will no longer have the choice of a cheaper manufacturing source. I hope that day comes soon. We need a fresh approach with business models befitting the 21st century.
Stories of large successful corporations always have another side — low-cost outsourcing to smaller firms within or outside the country. These smaller firms can hardly afford to work according to the same principles as their much bigger customers. For example, if one imagines a small supplier trying to implement the much-talked-about, just-in-time inventory system when dealing with a behemoth client, the answer becomes quite evident.
At the height of summer, I often hear the remark that since I am from a “hot” country, I must be quite comfortable in Japan’s summer heat. This is precisely the problem. We take it for granted that people in “hot” countries near the equator do not feel the heat or do not need to protect themselves from it. It is similar to saying that people from cold countries do not feel the cold!
As Rafferty pointed out, we are in dire need of policies that lead to betterment — not misery. Putting up with a profit squeeze as a result of supporting better working conditions takes more responsibility than walking away in times of trouble.
We need the same values applied to all nations. Otherwise, there won’t be much globalization; there will just be another caste system with a different name, look and color!
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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