Image is everything. Resources are not to be spent on factories
or machines but on building brands through sponsorship and
advertising. There is a total shift to contracted, mostly
offshore, manufacturing, with specific instructions about
made-to-order design, materials, delivery dates and rock-bottom
concentrated in a zone. There are 52 economic zones in
Philippines employing 459,000 people. In all there are about
1,000 zones in 70 countries, employing roughly 27 million
workers. The workday is long—14 hours in Sri Lanka, 12 in
Indonesia, 16 in Southern China, 12 in Philippines. The
contractors fill orders for companies based in the USA, Britain,
Japan, or Canada. The actual wage is about 87 cents per hour, as
compared to $10 in the USA. Some pay as little as 13 cents an
hour. The management is military style. These sweatshops are
cordoned of like leper colonies.
As the economy
grows, the percentage of people directly employed by the world’s
largest corporations is decreasing. These corporations account
for 33 per cent of the world’s productive assets but account
for only 5 per cent of the world’s direct employment. Total
assets of the world’s largest corporations increased by 288
per cent between 1990 and 1997 while the number of people
employed by them grew by less than 9 per cent.
There is no
abstract theorising in the book. Every formulation is
illustrated by concrete facts and figures. Some of the
statistics send a chill down the spine. An example or two would
do. As many as 50,000 workers at Yue Yen Nike factory in China
would have to work for 19 years to earn what Nike spends on
advertising in one year. It would take a Haitian worker 16.8
years to earn an hourly income of the CEO of Disney. It costs
Nike only $5 to make a shoe that sells for $100 to 150.
thrust of globalisation leads to destruction of local cultures
with the help of mass-produced corporate logos and slogans. The
author rightly characterises it as a cultural fascism leading to
erosion of democratic rights and ethos.
The book has a
simple hypothesis: as more people discover the brand-name
secrets of the global logo web, their outrage will fuel the next
big political movement targeting multinational corporations.
is an activism that is sowing the seeds of a genuine alternative
to corporate rule. Several instances of protest movements are
cited from the developed world. However, it is difficult to
share the optimism resting on the developed part of the world.
It is the victims of the Third World who have to work out their
book is a fascinating treatise that throws open the shady
operations of the mega corporations the world over. The young
journalist has shown remarkable courage and perseverance to
penetrate the seamy world of the "economic zones."