AN ONLINE BARGAIN? AT WHAT COST?
Are you joining the queue for the New Year sales or, instead, opting for an online discount?
There are any number of smarty-pants who congratulate themselves for avoiding the scrum in the sales with the “bogans”, even expressing sympathy for the poor shop assistant overwhelmed by the mob desperate for 50 percent off.
“Hah! We shop online”, they say. “We’re savvy shoppers – no parking hassles, pushing and shoving for us.”
But what’s so “savvy” about shopping online?
When we place an online order and it arrives – as if by magic – at our doorstep days later, we are only dimly aware of the chain of human labour and the earth’s resources that are expended for our convenience and choice.
What, after all, is a “bargain”?
Next time you click to make an order on your computer, it might be worth considering these first-hand accounts of the online story…Amazon’s Lehigh Valley warehouse.
INSIDE AMAZON’S WAREHOUSE
By Spencer Soper.
“Lehigh Valley workers tell of brutal heat, dizzying pace at online retailer.
“Elmer Goris spent a year working in Amazon.com’s Lehigh Valley warehouse, where books, CDs and various other products are packed and shipped to customers who order from the world’s largest online retailer.
“The 34-year-old Allentown resident, who has worked in warehouses for more than 10 years, said he quit in July because he was frustrated with the heat and demands that he work mandatory overtime. Working conditions at the warehouse got worse earlier this year, especially during summer heat waves when heat in the warehouse soared above 100 degrees, he said.”
PITY THE ELFSLAVES OF ONLINE SHOPPING
By Mac McClelland.
“Every time you click “Place Order,” a warehouse worker weeps.
“Since June, I’ve been ruining my friends’ online-shopping lives. Back then, I reported on a vast warehouse in Ohio where goods bought from online retailers are sorted, boxed, and shipped to consumers.”
“Sometimes we have no choice, we work till dawn. When you work all night you become dizzy and your eyes hurt because you can’t take any breaks. SANTA’S WORKSHOP takes you to the real world of China’s toy factories. Workers tell us about long working hours, low wages, and dangerous work places. Those who protest or try to organize trade unions risk imprisonment. Low labor costs attract more and more companies to China. Today more than 75 percent of our toys are made in China. But this industry takes its toll on the workers and on the environment.
“The European (and American) buyers blame bad conditions on the Chinese suppliers. But they say that increasingly hard competition gives them no option. Who should we believe? And what can you do to bring about a fairer and more humane toy trade?”
Watch the full Santa’s Workshop documentary here.