Lesson Plan: For Teachers: A Debate on Contracting Manufacturing
As a class, discuss what measures are in place to protect Canadian workers. In particular, discuss minimum wage legislation and workplace safety. Ask students to consider the following:
- If a company finds minimum wage too expensive for its manufacturing, what other options does it have?
- In what ways, if any, are working life and/or working conditions different in countries other than Canada?
- Do Canadian companies have any obligations to consumers, the community, or to the workforce? If so, what are those obligations?
- Why do clothing prices differ so much?
Outline the Opportunity
Divide the class into debate groups. Present the following statements:
a. Contracting inexpensive labour in developing countries benefits those workers as well as Canadian consumers.
b. Contracting inexpensive labour in developing countries is unfair to those workers as well as to Canadian workers.
Assign a position to groups. Distribute the download sheet A Debate on Contracting Manufacturing and review it as a class so that students understand how to structure their debates.
Direct students to the topic Sewing Seeds: Clothing Workers Fight for Better Conditions on the CBC Digital Archives website and have them view the clip "Favouring foreign contracts." Students can take notes on the download sheet as they research. Provide a class period for students to engage in the debate.
Assessment Tip: Students can evaluate their own or their peers' performance using a checklist such as the following. Students can mark each category from 5 (best) to 1 (worst) and add up the marks for a total.
- Clear opening statement of position
- Three good reasons to support the position
- Two facts for each reason
- Brief conclusion to summarize position
- Appropriate and effective speaking style
- Appropriate body language
- Well-planned response to opponent
- Thorough knowledge of the subject
- Organized and prepared for debate
Revisit and Reflect
Debrief as a class on the debate, ensuring students have an opportunity to discuss issues that might not have been discussed by all during the formal debate. Moderate their discussion to be sure that students stay on topic and that their statements remain impersonal.
Though the most recent clip in this series is dated 1993, contracting out to workers in developing countries (often called outsourcing) continues to be a hotly debated issue. Outsourcing has grown to include other jobs, even those in the white-collar sector. New and emerging technologies have played a significant role in how companies outsource work. Students can examine recent articles and discuss how technology has changed outsourcing of work. Has technology increased or decreased this phenomenon? Why?