Combating the economic and social issues of the textile industry around the world

The worth of the textile industry in the year 2017 is estimated to be around US $4395 billion, with a global trade around US $360bn. China dominates the global textile and apparel exports with 40% share of made ups, 37% of apparel, and 39% of fabric. India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Turkey and Pakistan are some other major exporters, with the top five textile and garment importing nations being the USA, China, Germany and Turkey.

In addition to being one of the most profitable in our world, due to the high demand of the people and the innovations in science and technology, the textile industry is also the second largest source of waste on the globe, after the fossil fuel industry, also having a strong negative impact over our world. The high demand of products at low, affordable prices determines the industry to focus more on quantity and fast production, rather than on quality, sustainability, fairness and ethics.

The most relevant aspect of the textile industry issue is the social one. The workers that are found at the very basis of the production chain often work excessive amounts of time with really low incomes, not being able to provide a decent life for themselves or their families; they have improper work conditions that can often lead to diseases: the poor ventilation in cotton processing factories can lead to the development of respiratory issues, the chemicals used to treat the textile materials and the noise of the machinery used in the factories can also have terrible effects when there is insufficient protection, the inadequate chairs and tables at which the employees work for large amounts of time can lead to painful conditions and the little to no first aid assistance is of no help for that.

From an economic point of view, the poor conditions of the employees determine them to lack satisfaction, motivation and productivity, affecting the overall prosperity of the company in the long run. Moreover, the demand of sellers to lower the prices as much as possible in order to satisfy the consumer, can lead the producing companies to opt for certain methods such as off shoring and outsourcing tax havens. Reducing the price of a product implies minimizing its production costs, in the first place, thus affecting the people at the very basis of the production process, leading to the pressing issues described in the previous paragraph.

Keep in mind these following questions:

  • Is the financial interest more important than sustainability, quality, ethics and respect and how could these aspects co-exist in harmony?
  • What basic human and labour rights are currently being abused and how can we stop that?
  • Should we keep on satisfying our needs regardless of the existent resources or should we adapt ourselves to these resources we are being provided?

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The issues of the newly arisen platform companies

            A simplified definition of a platform company would be a digital network hosting social and economic interactions between the parties involved, through online algorithms and mechanisms. An online platform cuts down the expenses of a physical location, as well as the required material and human resources, since most of the work usually done by employees is systematically replaced with a software. Moreover, the notion of online also implies that of world-wide, making the platform instantly accessible to its users. Using nothing more than a click or a tap on the website/app, one can follow the steps to become a self-made entrepreneur – whether we are discussing about Uber car-drivers, Amazon best-selling authors or Etsy indie jewelry retailers, anyone could easily and with reduced costs be part of a successful business.

However, a change is never entirely beneficial. First of all, being given the rapid development and bloom of the platform companies, there are yet no specific regulations imposed on them, providing them too much of a freedom in the international space. A proper legislation is necessary at this point in time, not to inhibit the evolution of this type of companies, but to allow their course of development to take place in a controlled, organized manner.

In addition to that, another prominent aspect is the status of the employees. Most of these new companies are not truly hiring their people – they are cutting off all the administrative and human resources costs that would intervene in the process of gathering employees by providing the people a context in which they can start their own business, become self-employed and progressively make profit. Even though it sounds interesting and promising, it also brings serious disadvantages for both the so called “employee” and the customer. On one hand, the entrepreneurs lack the basic rights of a worker, a stable income, insurance and various other benefits of a standard employee. On the other hand, the customers can too often be offered poor quality services and even abuses, such as being stolen from by an Uber driver or getting fooled by an Etsy seller.

The accessibility of the platform companies and their spread around the world has determined them to gain more popularity and even surpass the traditional companies from the same area or domain. For instance, taxi drivers feel that their current job is being threatened by that of the Uber drivers, causing them to lose customers and implicitly a consistent part of their previous profit. If they were to switch their current work place for one at a platform company, they would have to face the series of disadvantages listed above, only to have a better income.

Keep in mind these questions:

  • What should be primary in our today’s society: freedom or control?
  • Which are the most popular platform companies at this moment in time and which are their biggest disadvantages?
  • What can the governments do regarding this issue? What about the people themselves?

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Regulating the cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin as regular stocks

            According to the dictionary, a cryptocurrency is “a digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank”. The first invented one was Bitcoin, which was created as a decentralized electronic cash system, a peer-to-peer network, where transactions take place between users directly, with no server or authority to control it. There are now several types of cryptocurrencies besides Bitcoin, such as Ethereum and Litecoin, and all of these have rapidly become a global phenomenon, spreading across our world.

At the end of July this year, the SEC (The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commision) has ruled that all the cryptocurrencies are actually investments and should be under the same rules as the standard, regular currency stocks – and it has been received with mixed feelings. This could create, in the long run, major changes in the way the financial systems are functioning, with both good and bad influences.

The governments may feel threatened by no longer having the sovereignty over the production and movement of money, the cryptocurrencies may not have a beneficial evolution on the stock market and the processes involving them may suffer harsh effects.

Keep these questions in mind:

  • In whose advantage is this ruling and who gets disadvantaged in this process?
  • What will be the long term effect of this?
  • Should every aspect of the financial and economic system around the world be controlled by a higher, more competent authority?

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