What I really enjoyed about the podcast was the contrasting approach that it took to the subject by showing the horrible conditions that workers are subjected to but also exploring opinions that on the whole, the situation is positive and constantly improving.
The imagery used to portray the factory horrified and awed me at the same time. The efficiency with which the factory was organised showed the absolute dedication that the management showed towards maximizing production. It also showed the large disconnect between the management and the workers. The workers were definitely not viewed as stakeholders in the organization, but as being expendable, showed by the very high turnover rate for employees. The spartan conditions in which the workers were accommodated showed how only the bare minimum, and only if it increased productivity, was provided. (for example, no seating is provided since it was discovered that standing increases productivity, even if that meant the worker would be standing for as many as 18 hours).
These closely guarded conditions from the factory are clearly not hidden from the authorities, as the cooperation between the Labor Bureau and the corporations shows. The reporter mentions that audits from private companies and state agencies do happen, but many times the corporations are warned ahead of time in order to prepare. Companies for example, would move their oldest employees for example when there was a inspection that might have discovered underage workers. The speaker then mentions that it is incredible how no one has actually figured out what is happening. My suspicion is that even the government employees (at least the high level ones) are aware of what is happening at the factory, but choose to ignore the issue, in favor perhaps, of the general economic wellness of China.
This brings to the point of the opposing argument, that the sweatshop industries are helping both the country as a whole and even the workers whose children will have a better chance due to the sacrifice of their parents. The situation, however dire it may seem, is seen as better than life working the rice paddies, and time, worker conditions will improve. My opinion is that the truth is somewhere in the middle-it would be counterproductive even to the Chinese workers to force companies to adopt the exact work practices that are followed in the United States, to the point where corporations will simply choose to relocate in another country. On the other hand, it has been showed, even by Apple’s internal reports, that applying more pressure on corporations to improve their practices will show results and that as consumers and authorities become more and more aware of the issues, regulations and customer demand will lead to improved conditions for the workers.