Anyone can help workers in developing nations get living wages simply by paying a few dollars more for some products.
Many industries outsource labor to Third World countries because people in these countries are willing to work for significantly less than their developed world counterparts. Sometimes these developing Third World workers are exploited and even not paid a living wage.
Fair-trade products, or products that are produced by workers who are paid a “fair” wage, are being produced to prevent this worker exploitation. A fair wage is considered one a worker can live on sustainably.
Tyler Gonzalez, senior business administration major, said fair-trade products make a real difference in Third World working conditions, as they ensure that workers are properly compensated for their work.
“(Fair trade helps by) paying someone a good wage in a Third World country and keeping them from basically being enslaved,” Gonzalez said.
Fair trade is making a positive difference in the world. However, it is an important consideration that a large majority of suppliers have to buy from fair-trade organizations to see a major difference. There is more incentive for them to purchase products from other sources because of the increased cost of buying from a company that pays its workers more.
Dr. Marc Weniger, associate professor of business, said that fair-trade needs large scale adoption to make a significant difference. “You have to make sure that everyone is buying fair trade, or that there is some advantage (to buying fair-trade products),” Weniger Said. “Will the market pay the extra money for the fair-trade coffee, for example, or say, ‘No, I want the cheaper regular coffee?’ It depends on if the end-user finds it important.”
Despite the concern suppliers have that purchasing fair -trade products increases cost of their business, these products are improving the lives of people. Fair trade production is dependent upon both the producer and the consumer taking action and making conscientious choices when buying products.
If people are willing to get behind this cause, fair trade may become more accepted and help workers worldwide.