Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Howard's End: What The Innovators Are Up Against

As our Innovation Conference kicks off in Christchurch today, news comes out of Britain that one of its icon innovators, who runs a private company valued at more than a NZD $1 billion, is joining the industrial exodus to Asia. Maree Howard writes.

When he created the wheel-less wheelbarrow and went on to invent the bagless vacuum cleaner, James Dyson became an icon of innovative Britain.

His name has become a brand which is imprinted on all of the eight million Dyson bagless vacuum cleaners his company sold since 1993.

Now, though, Dyson has assumed another persona. Having said he would never abandon the land that nutured him, Dyson has announced that he plans to close an assembly line and shift production of all his vacuum cleaners to the cheaper labour markets of Asia.

Saving payroll and other costs, the move will eliminate 800 jobs at his six-year old plant near Malmesbury 160 kilometres west of London.

"I put $40 million pounds of my money into this business to try and make manufacturing work here," Dyson said. " But I have to regard the law of economics. If we are to survive as a business, we have to go where manufacturing is economical. I am not betraying anybody."

Last year, manufacturing in Britain shed 150,000 jobs as its output shrank by 5.4% and its share of national economic activity fell below 20%. By contrast service industries, such as banking, restaurants and call centres, added almost 230,000 jobs.

Britain, once labelled by Napoleon as a nation of shopkeepers, has now become a nation of shoppers with consumer spending accounting for 60% of the economy.

Manufacturers are arguing that the decline of their businesses is so advanced that it may be irreparable, leaving the country perilously dependent on a fragile service economy. Some say their industries have already reached sub-critical mass from which they cannot recover.

Many are going or have gone to Asia.

Asia does not operate as a marketplace in the accepted term. The product it markets is labour - or more specifically, cheap labour, preferably cheap female labour.

Strictly speaking, Asian countries do not export electronics - it is mainly American, European or Japanese assembly plants located in Asia, which actually do the exporting.

Asia's cut comes from the cheap labour it supplies to these corporations and from outsourcing contracts awarded by the multinational corporations to local firms.

In order to remain cost effective, Asian countries also promote migrant labour. The countries importing the migrant labourers do so in order to maintain low wages which attracts foreign investors, while those countries which are exporting their population, do so in order to alleviate the poverty back home.

For example, in Malaysia there are about 700,000 foreign workers plus illegal immigrants, while in Singapore there are 750,000 registered foreign workers.

More than 2,000 Filipino's leave their country every day for overseas jobs, due to the lack of jobs in their home country.

With exports to the U.S. - the importer of last resort - collapsing throughout Asia, many countries are facing a corresponding collapse in remittances sent home by the millions of overseas contract workers.

In the Philippines last year, total remittances were down to $5.5 billion, way below the $6-8 billion of previous years.

There are reports coming out of Malaysia that because of U.S. export markets drying-up, there are plans to send 300,000 foreign workers home in order to free up jobs for the local population. This is on top of the more than 100,000 deported as at November 2001.

The Malaysian Trade Union Congress, which has half a million members, called on the private sector to freeze the intake of foreign workers. About $1.3 billion is repatriated from Malaysia by foreign workers each year.

Jakarta, in Indonesia, is about to introduce new laws to prevent poverty-stricken villagers from across the archipelago from moving to the capital. It receives around 250,000 newcomers each year.

The current approach of sending cheap labourers home, to free-up fast vanishing, barely decent jobs for locals is a solution that solves nothing.

What is needed, however, is vast amounts of capital equipment in order to increase the value of labour rather than the pure free-market approach of finding even cheaper labour from countries with large populations such as Bangladesh or Indonesia.

This is the current environment in which our companies must compete. Those attending the Innovation Conference in Christchurch had better be able to innovate.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news