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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cheap Labor and Attitudes-Redux

as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

 I previously wrote a post: Cheap Labor and Attitudes and I really wasn't seeing the big picture.  Most of us Westerners are actually no less guilty.  I was thinking I should delete the post altogether but I think I will leave it as a lot of people feel the same way I did and reading both posts may help them also see the bigger picture.

 I am from the US as y'all know...and there is a minimum wage, labor laws, unions, etc... all there to protect employees.  So basically, the US protects the citizens and legal residents with these laws.  And with a minimum wage in place, we cannot imagine someone having to have to work for SO little pay like the domestic laborers (maids, drivers, cooks etc...) and unskilled laborers (office boys, construction workers etc...) in UAE.

 But guess what?  Most of us Westerners SUPPORT the kinds of salaries, working conditions and living conditions that we think is horrible and that we think UAE is so guilty of. 

How you say?

Do you buy products that say "made in China", "made in the Philippines", "made in Mexico"  etc.. ?

Then you just might be supporting this very thing.

Do you buy counterfeit designer goods? This industry thrives on slave labor, child labor, extremely low salaries, and horrible working conditions. On top of all that, this industry supports criminals. 

Do you research each and every company to make sure they are not under investigation for unfair labor wages/conditions?  And even if you are assured their salaries are "fair", does what is a "fair" wage in these countries equal to, or equal more than the salaries of the domestic and unskilled laborers in UAE?  For some, it might be, but for many others, its still an even lower salary.

So you see, just because unfair wages, working conditions etc.. are regulated in the US, we are not less guilty if we purchase our goods from people and companies who practice the very thing we think is unfair. 

For instance, a shoe company that gives what is a "fair" wage in a poor Asian country, $3 a day (which is why people come to UAE because they can get a higher salary than that, even if it is sooooo little to us), to employees to produce their shoes that cost well over $100 in the US.   If the shoe company was in the US, people would throw a fit if they found out the company was paying only $3 a day to the employees.  Yet its ok so long as it happens outside of the US?   And in other countries a "fair"salary is much less than that!

That being said, it doesn't mean I suddenly think what happens in UAE is all ok. Just that I do know I felt it, and others feel it too--like we are all more "civilized" than Emaratis on this issue.  We do the same thing, just pretend to be innocent about it because it doesn't happen in our countries legally.

And also, the laborers are first exploited in their very own countries before setting foot in UAE.  It is a bigger problem than just getting UAE to change their attitudes about this issue.  If their salaries were increased in UAE, the "fees" they have to pay in their own countries just to get a job in UAE would go even higher, thus continuing the cycle of exploitation.


  1. Yes your very right !

    And also, what people tend to happens EVERYWHERE! still today! Don't fool yourselves thinking Oo this happens in uae but would never happen in north america .. **rolleyes** Common ! Of course it does.

    My father works in the western part of canada as a laborer. Alhamdulillah he gets paid fine and gets benefits etc... BUT whats happening out there now? They are bringing natives and even chinese i think to take the jobs. Why? Because they can pay them less AND they don't have to give them proper safety courses, or equipment etc. These guys don't have a union like my father and other canadian men. They come for the work and are NOT even trained. They operate massive machinery which is SO dangerous and barely even know how!

    I am NOT down playing whats happening here in UAE .. its very very sad. my point is that ITS HAPPENING EVERYWHERE!!! And those who think otherwise are foolish and ignorant.

    Welcome to the world people... it sucks!

    love u twizzle :P

  2. We talked about this, already. I told you about the labors from Mexico, my neighboring country. Yes, they say, it only happens in UAE, when in fact, it's happening right in your own backyard. They've been doing this for many years. When I say many, I mean over 100 yrs in the states. My grandfather went to the states in 1920 ( I think ) and he told us stories. Really sad ones. So, they try to talk about it ONLY happening in UAE or other places people really haven't explored too. But, it's happening, everywhere, and has been for years.

  3. OmAbdullah-- yep, they do bring in immigrant workers over in the US too.

    Now, for Canada, is is legal for the companies to be hiring the natives, and immigrants for labor work and not give them the same kind of benefits?

    or does it all happen "under the table" like in the US?

    And like you said, it happens everywhere.

    Texan in UAE--oh, we Americans allllll know about the Mexican workers in the US. we ALLLLLLL know about it!!

    I think the reason why people, including me at first, feel the way we do about the domestic and unskilled laborers' situations in UAE is because it is LEGAL to pay the wages they do.

    But, just because it is illegal in the US, we are all consumers of goods made on the backs of the same kinds of conditions.

    Companies and Cooperations are all out to make a profit and families are out looking for bargains.

  4. Thanks for nice blog having pictures of Medinah I love most. :)

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