Wednesday, April 23, 2003

‘Sweatshops’ update – Sex slaves and Telstra contractors,5744,6297654%255E2702,00.html
(URL valid for 23 April only),5744,6305208%255E2702,00.html
(URL valid to ~ 25 April only),5744,6313478%255E2702,00.html
(URL valid to ~ 27 April only),5746,ausletters1^^TEXT,00.html
(URL valid for 23 April only)

See also: Sex slavery and freedom of contract, below, Saturday, April 05, 2003

The Australian newspaper’s an investigative story on the trafficking of sex slaves has continued on over the last three weeks. While the authorities have barely budged in response (although this is more so in the case of the AFP than the Department of Immigration), letter-writers have been steadily adding further fuel to the story. In Monday 21 April’s Australian (no URL), one letter writer spoke of a “cover-up … [that is] beyond investigation on grounds of incompetence or worse”, and another of “corruption”. Good to see that other Australians are joining the dots on what is going on, and speaking up on an issue of fundamental human rights and open and accountable governance.

Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock gave one of his trademark weaselly performances on the Ten Network's “Meet the Press” on Sunday 20 April, deflecting responsibility for (star witness) Wing’s impending deportation onto the AFP, and citing a few irrelevant detection’n’deportation statistics, presumably mostly to do with Pommy backpacker overstayers getting booted home. (The same irrelevant stats crop up in a letter to today’s Australian by one Stewart Foster, of the Department of Immigration [bottommost of the above four URLs]). Foster’s letter certainly does nothing to dissuade me from the earlier [second of the above four URLs] ‘Keystone Cops” analogy for Immigration Department raids on brothels that the operators clearly have had prior notice of – there ought to be a Latin maxim coined, for general use but composed precisely of the phrase: “When the brothel was raided we found plenty of customers, but not a single worker”.

Meanwhile, the AFP appears to be simply stalling, saying only on 21 April that they would be interviewing star witness Wing the following day [third of the above four URLs].

Dumb statistics, brazenly flouted in the hope of quietening down a story, also feature in today’s development on the Telstra 'sweatshop' story (see yesterday):

Thus, according to Infosys spokesperson, Mr Rao:

“A global corporation employing in excess of 10,000 people, would be shut down if it paid ‘sweatshop wages’. Last year we attracted some 400,000 qualified applications to work for Infosys globally. We hired 4,000 people, so only one in 100 people gets the chance to work for Infosys. Do you think that would be the story if we were running a sweatshop?”

Unlike the Immigration Department’s simply ridiculous use of its successes with detecting overstaying Pommy backpackers to impute an all-around ring of quality to its efforts, however, the Infosys stats do in fact reveal a fair bit about what they were supposed to hush up:

1. Infosys is “a global corporation”. Translation: it pays differential wages (depending on the country) as an interim measure, while it scours the globe for a single, rock-bottom-wage employer nirvana.

2. In 2002, Infosys, which employs about 11,000 people, hired 4,000 people. Translation: unless Infosys is the only IT company in the world currently growing at 40% per annum, then Infosys definitely has a turnover problem

3. Only one in 100 job applicants gets picked to work for Infosys. Oh yeah? Apart from the multitude of local sins that such global averaging could hide, Mr Rao’s company appears positively promiscuous in its 1-in-100 acceptance rate – in mid-last year, a 1-in-600 acceptance rate was given for Australian white collar jobs, and this situation has almost certainly worsened since.

Indian contractors Update 29/4/03,7204,6349740%5E15317%5E%5Enbv%5E15306,00.html

For a sweatshop "denial", this latest set of quotes continues the set tone of high-querulousness:

"No good talent is available for that price [$21,840 a year] even in India."

"Most of Satyam's Australian-based staff [are] paid in Australian dollars"

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