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#4794: Durban on the Grand Marnier Discussion (fwd)

From: Lance Durban <lpdurban@yahoo.com>

How did I just know that my old friend Kathy Dorce would jump into the
discussion about the Grand Marnier workers?  And I was also intrigued by 
Bebe Piere-Louis' insights, although I feel that people urging that those
bad old factory job be shut down should really have something better to
offer the folks who lose those jobs as a result.  

First let me say, I cannot believe ANYONE would condemn a factory owner
for OVERpaying his/her workers.  Sure there may be grumblings if that
owner hires away the best workers from other factories, but that is as far
as it will go.  Now, the market MAY punish the overpaying owner by running
him into bankruptcy but that is quite another matter, and note that I say
"MAY".  If a factory is well-conceived and well-managed, there should be
the wherewithal to pay more than the minimum wage.  However, just because
a factory is working does NOT mean it is either well-conceived or well
managed.  Some pretty large operations in Haiti today are actually LOSING
money while still paying their workers peanuts.

Our own belt making business <www.kenscoff.com> is a prime example of a
little company with big problems.  Salaries are only a bit above the
minimum and the owners (of which I am one) have drawn ZERO salary since
purchase of the company in late 1996.  This year will be our best because
we have succeeded in getting monthly LOSSES down to just under US$2000 per
month.  Needless to say my owner/colleagues favor simply shutting it down
and sending the final 25 workers home.  And in fact the workers are NOT
particularly happy with their salary levels.  BUT, most of them are
illiterate and have been making belts in this plant for at least 10 years.
 They have no other talents and many of them have kids in school.  And,
the company's school loan fund does manage to keep most of their kids in

Why can't our belt business make any money which would permit it to pay
the workers a bit more?  Poor management pure and simple.  My colleagues
and I are so busy with our main business (MANUTECH, INC. - electronics) we
have no time to oversee this little belt factory... which, granted, is a
different business in a different industry.  Had we not invested back in
1996 the company would have closed, we would have saved $200,000+, and
these workers would have moved on (Actually 50 out of the original 75,
HAVE moved on).  Is there hope of landing that big contract with an
overseas' retailer which would get the sales up to cover the fixed costs? 
Should we neglect our primary business to try and kick some life into a
dying dog?  Or would Kathy Dorce and Bebe Pierre-Louis suggest we simply
shut this place down tomorrow?

Lance Durban



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