Made in China – The High Cost Behind the Low Price Tag

Admit it or not, we take many things for granted.

About 90 percent of the clothes we wear everyday are made in China. Not to mention the other things we purchase on daily basis – tools, toys, furniture, electronics, and home appliances. Behind the glamorous ads, sexy displays, and shiny products in the shopping centers around us, there are millions of Chinese workers, who make the goods that we consume every day, living in a world that most of us could hardly imagine and probably would not cherish. Yet, few of us would ever know, or even care about, their life and their pain.

Among them, the biggest group is migrant workers.

Every year, hundreds of millions of migrant workers from China’s impoverished regions search for work in the more prosperous coastal regions, such as Shanghai and Canton. According to the Chinese government statistics, the current number of migrant workers in China is estimated at 150 million, approximately 11% of the population. They are at the absolute bottom of the society. Poorly educated, inadequately trained and overworked, the workers never had enough protection when they find work from unscrupulous employers who flout work safety rules and withhold salaries. According to a most recent study, only 31 percent of polled workers regularly received their full salary on time, while nearly two-thirds lacked disability insurance.

In addition to work-place abuses, migrant workers are regularly stigmatized by city dwellers who blame them for everything from crowded buses to street crime. Yet, they are the most hardworking group who shed sweat and blood in exchange for the minimum wage (on average they make less than $200 per month), and who built the foundation of China’s modern infrastructure and exporting business. Not to exaggerate, they are the pedestal of today’s global image of China as an emerging superpower or a proud dragon on fire. There’s a recent documentary movie “Last Train Home”, directed by a Canadian Chinese named Lixin Fan, showing the world for the first time in history the real life of a Chinese migrant worker family. Yet, what you’d see in the movie is only a fraction of what’s happening to the migrant workers in China.

Spring Festival is the most important festival to Chinese families. Regardless distance, family members manage to travel home and celebrate it together. To many migrant workers who have to work 12 hours or more every single day, the two weeks family gathering is the only vacation they have in the whole year. Desperate to see their parents, wives/husbands and children, they have to join an unimaginable crowd struggling to catch the train home, before the lunar New Year bell chimes. And, when the vacation ends, they have to fight again to catch the train back to work, before they lose their low-pay jobs. [Note: Similar to many other developing countries, riding a train is the cheapest way to travel in China]. If you have got a chance to witness the around-Spring-Festival rush hours at railway stations in China’s major cities, you probably would agree with me the rush hour here in North America is nothing.

In the wake of thousands of heartbreaking accidents, inhuman abuses, and years of appeals from families of migrant workers, the Chinese government finally passed a labor law in 2007 giving greater protection to workers’ rights. Social groups and organizations emerged in recent years to help migrant workers not just find work but protect their interests and exercise their rights. Things are getting better. Despite the global and domestic economy downturn, over 97% migrant workers found jobs in 2009 and, compared to 2008, 1 million some more workers signed up for disability insurance, according to the official statistics. However, the workers’ living condition and social status are far from what they deserve. Behind the low priced made-in-China products, the migrant workers are still paying a high cost in their lives.

What should we do about this problem? Last Train Home, living up to its billing as “An emotionally wrenching portrait of migrant workers in China”, would surely help you understand China behind its supersonic economic growth. However, to solve the problem and improve the life quality of China’s migrant workers, we need to put in more thinking. Some say, “Why don’t we just boycott Chinese goods?” Well, it’s never that easy. Bear in mind, the poor workers would very likely lose their jobs for what you choose to do – a classic backfire. In fact, the power to make a difference is really in the Chinese government’s hand and our job is to give it a push.

The Chinese government, although never having a nice image on human right issues, is taking its steps and measures to make the migrant workers’ life a bit easier. That we know. The officials are proactively looking for solutions, including learning from developed countries such as Britain which had about 400 years of experience handling migrant worker issues, to improve the situation. That we know, too. But compared to the many other tasks, the migrant workers’ life quality has never been a real priority. They can certainly do better than that. The international community has been pressing China to advance on the matter and I believe, when more people like you join the force, the voice will be louder and stronger. And better chance the migrant workers will have an improved life sooner.

At least one thing you can do from today – never take the low price tags attached to made-in-China products for granted.

Low Price Airline Tickets – Seven Tips Savvy Travelers Follow to Save Money

If you are really determined to get low price airline tickets and never pay for high airfares again, there are some important things you should keep in mind before you make your next booking. Follow these seven tips for saving money through obtaining low price airline tickets.

1. An important factor when you begin to think about getting low price airline tickets is making sure that you plan your booking early, at least a month in advance. The reason that this is important is because airlines love early bookings; early bookings allow airlines to plan their flights in advance to save time and money. If you do not book at least a month in advance, then you run the risk of paying high airfares.

2. Another important consideration for securing low price airline tickets is where you make your booking. It is critical that you book online, either through the website of the airline, or through a travel comparison site, because you end up not paying a commission to a travel agent. If you make sure that you book online, then you, and your bank account, will be fine.

3. You do not always have to buy a return ticket to get low price airline tickets. Instead, you may be able to buy two single tickets instead of a return. Make sure that the total price of the two single tickets is lower than the price of the return ticket. To make your single tickets even cheaper, consider using different airports other than the major ones, and look for special airline deals that only apply to single tickets.

4. Instead of making things difficult for yourself by sticking to one date to fly, try it this way: plan ahead and make a list of possible dates you can fly on. In fact, if you find out the prices of tickets on different dates, you may find differences worth hundreds of dollars.

5. Have you also considered flying in an inconvenient time? It may be difficult, but the inconvenience you get is likely to translate into a lower airfare. What you need to do is choose not to fly in the weekend, and in the hours outside 9am to 5pm.

6. Another factor you may consider, especially in you travel a lot, is to sign up for e-newsletters. Look for them in travel websites, and even in airline websites. They contain loads of useful information exclusive to their subscribers that would help you get low price airline tickets.

7. Here is a little known tip for getting low price airline tickets that can potentially save you hundreds: monitor the price of your ticket after you have booked it. If the price ever falls, call the airline and ask if you can make a re-booking at the lower price. If you are successful, the airline will either refund you the difference, or give you a travel voucher. Be careful of any re-booking fees.

So if you really want to get low price airline tickets, follow these tips to save money on your airfares. With low price airline tickets, you will be able to enjoy your trip much more, and perhaps even budget for your ideal holiday.

Low Price Airfare For All Four Seasons

If you want low price airfare, there’s always an open door somewhere. Let’s take a look at the four seasons of the year. Each season offers affordable flights when you need them!

Winter Wonderland

The best time to travel on a budget is sometime between winter and spring, when both airlines and destinations are more willing to offer discounts. This is because most people are already tired from their holiday travels or even from their holiday shopping. Most airlines offer a sale on advance-purchase tickets for winter.

So where can we go during winter? One of the best places to visit is Paris. Hot spots in France include the famous Eiffel Tower, Seine River, and Notre Dame. The destination is where millions of tourists flock to each year, and now it’s your turn!

You’re bound to find low price airfare to Paris on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from January to March. Prices tend to be high on Mondays and weekends because that’s when business travelers and tourists who want to stay longer mark their dates. Check out flights that travel through large cities with many flights to save more.

Spring Time

Spring break isn’t the time for low price airfare. However, wait until the kids are in school, or find your way around spring break with cheap group rates and other tricks. Airlines usually offer low price airfare in late May and again later in August.

There are some ways to get low price airfare during spring. You can get cheap group rates if you plan on visiting Cancun. Sometimes finding low price airfare during spring break depends on your destination and current location. If you’re from California for instance, you’re likely to get a bargain if you travel to Las Vegas. Package deals are a rule of thumb. They mean huge savings on accommodation and car rentals.

Summer Days

Traveling during the summer can be challenging. There is high demand from tourists around the world plus it’s the perfect time for weddings and honeymoons. To get a low price airfare, you can either find a unique schedule or quieter destination.

For instance, you can enjoy the magnificent views and safaris in Kenya and Tanzania at a much lower cost from June to September. During these times the high season has gone but the weather is still cool and tolerable. On the other hand, you can choose to visit less crowded destinations like the Bay Islands of Honduras in June and early July, just before tourists come flocking in.

Amazing Autumn

During fall, prices can go down to as much as 50 percent. This is because the weather is getting colder. But many fail to see the good side of autumn. If you brave this time to travel, you’ll be one of the lucky few to grab an amazing holiday opportunity at a ridiculously low cost.

Luxury resorts are cheap at the end of summer. Although the water isn’t going to be as warm, the shores are surprisingly appealing during autumn. Experience gentle sunshine and cool breeze while having peaceful long walks in your long sleeves. Relax to soothing waves and sea gulls without the background noise of people. The searing heat, crowd and long restaurant lines have gone. This is perfect for lovers and anyone who wants to relax.

Low price airfare isn’t difficult to find. All you have to do is know exactly when you should travel and where you can travel at a particular time of the year. There’s almost always something for everyone with each season.