In Korea, the railway strike is coming to an end. In Japan, people are still cleaning up the effects of the nuclear disaster from Fukushima.
But they are hiring homeless, at a rate well below the minimum wage. Most of the money is being scraped by middlemen and Yakuza, and very little of it goes to the poor workers. It’s a perfect example of the issues with outsourcing, where everything left in a shroud of mystery. What it’s good for, is the government to throw money at the problem, and hope it goes away. Then, if something goes wrong, they can always blame it on the contractor. Mind you, it’s the government that approves who the contractor is.
So who will look out for the rights of the homeless when working even as contractors? Sadly, when you compare this to African workers of Chinese companies in Africa…
Chinese employers have been criticized by NGOs and others in Nigeria for operating factories where workers are treated “more or less like slaves” — yet most critics have not themselves actually been inside a Chinese (or Hong Kong) factory in Nigeria. Irene, who is bilingual, visited eight factories to observe their work conditions. She observed large variations in lighting, cleanliness, whether workers had protective clothing and safety equipment, yet, she says, the gates at “several of the factories I visited were crowded with Nigerians who were hoping to find work.”
So it takes a government that actually cares about workers rights to do something about it? South Korea was lucky enough to have politicians step in to end the strike. However, the people on strike alraedy had jobs, and weren’t homeless. When it actually comes to caring about the homeless, or even people in developing nations, it seems easier to ignore their situation.
UPDATE: December 31, 2012
Child-labor trafficking going on in a Shenzhen-based, Hong Kong-owned company: