THE HUMAN COST OF ONE PENNY LESS
'Dateline NBC' investigates the human costs in the developing world behind the bargain shopping trend of the Americans and the competitive deals of the big discount stores.
The investigation goes to the source of the goods these store offers. In Bangladesh, a female worker, Masuma gets more like 17 cents for sewing as much as 80 stripes on pants in an hour, a perfectly legal wage, and more than many Bangladeshis like her earn. But she can barely live with that wages.
MSNBC arranged to bring her to the US, to a store where these pants are sold. She was shocked to find the selling price ($12.84) of one striped pant, more than she could imagine. She said that the price of the pants left her feeling taken advantage of. If she was paid 25 cents an hour instead of 17, a 50 percent raise, she could lead what she considers a decent life.
When a US customer on that store was asked in front of Masuma, whether she would by the pant if it was 25 cents more, she declined. She said that she feels for Masuma, but she is counting her pennies as well. It’s the debate over globalization in its simplest form.
One Bangladeshi garments executive claims:
A few years back, I told Wal-Mart, "Give me one cents more a piece, one cent. I will use that money for these poor people.’ He says, ‘No, give us two cents less.'
So the industry gives in to the competition, shattering millions of workers' (like Masuma) dreams:
"They make us work so hard, and they cheat us so much and we're human beings. I'm not an animal. I'm a human being. Of course I'm angry. This is really shocking."Will they ever be heard? Will we still be counting our pennies?
(Cross-posted in 'Global Voices Online')