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Race to the bottom: the tactics used by companies Shifting production to lower wage countries Companies shift production to countries where workers’ organisations are weak (e.g. because of repressive governments), and where local laws don’t protect workers’ wages, safety and conditions. Companies make bigger profi ts because they pay workers far less for the same work. In the electronics industry major companies like Samsung and Apple place their factories in East Asia in their search for lower costs and higher profi ts. In 2013, General Motors shifted work from South Korea to the southern United States because wages in the USA had been forced down. Keeping workers unorganised Workers improve their wages and conditions by organising unions and campaigning for their rights. Companies and governments want to keep workers from organising. This can be done in many ways, legally and illegally. In December 2013, tens of thousands of Cambodian workers went on strike over their demand to double their wages from US $80/month to US $160/month. In response, the police and military unleashed a massive crackdown on workers, killing at least fi ve, injuring hundreds, and arresting many union leaders. Using contracting out and casualisation Companies often push for their workforce to be contracted out or employed on casual or temporary contracts. This creates barriers between workers, often aggravated by legislation that prohibits contractual workers from organising together with regular workers. So companies get away with paying workers less. In a historic fi ght lasting two years, PALEA, the union representing Philippine Airlines workers, was able to reverse company decisions to outsource and casualise its members. Their victory shows the power of workers uniting at a global level. See more on page 15. 6 aawl.org.au - Asia Workers Organising - Global Picketline


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