Belfast Telegraph

Home Opinion Letters

Low wages won't change until free market does

Renewed controversy about worker exploitation in countries with low wage costs prompts me to raise points about which there appears to be much ignorance.

The wages paid to workers in any country are determined by what the majority earn. As far as I am aware, none of the countries cited as the most exploitative (China, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, etc) have a majority of the workforce engaged in the manufacture of goods for export. Most workers in these countries are employed in the domestic sector, so the domestic sector sets the standard.

Having worked in garment manufacturing in several of the relevant countries (as a chief executive) for more than 20 years, I can honestly say that, for a customer in a developed country to try to bring pressure to bear on his supplier to increase the wages of the workers, without offering to pay more for the goods bought, has no chance at all of success.

This is especially true if it is being done without the co-operation of the host country's government.

The largest company that I managed had 2,000 employees and made an average profit of £340,000-a-year.

This equates to only £170-per-worker, so an increase of £3.50-per-week/per-worker would wipe it all out.

The reality of the situation is that we are here faced with free-market capitalism, which is, of course, fully supported by Western governments and is, unfortunately, the only system which has been tried so far with the remotest chance of success.

BRIAN NIXON

By e-mail

To email your letter to the Editor click here

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph