Got sweatshops?


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.

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6 thoughts on “Got sweatshops?”

  1. Like how you touched on the graphicness of the working conditions. Your post is a direct result of Daisey’s ability to create empathy in the listener– that’s why Daisey’s monologues are so effective.

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  2. Your post caused me to consider this topic from an entirely different point of view because by forcing me to take in to consideration the ways in which the sweatshop industry is (unethically) providing work for many Chinese natives. I also liked that you incorporated the stakeholders idea in to your blog, and it helped me link the readings from the past two weeks to one another.

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  3. I agree that the imagery that Daisey used to portray what the factories are like was terrifying and painted a very detailed picture of how the employees work everyday. I found it very upsetting to hear these details because it seemed too horrible to be true. You raise a good point about the government turning a blind eye about these issues in order to maintain a healthy economic status in China. It is interesting to think about the effects it would not only have on China’s economics if action were taken to address these issues, but also ours. Considering many of the devices and goods we use are manufactured in China for a lot cheaper if these factories were to be revamped our economic system would suffer. Is there a price tag for ethical acts? I find it upsetting that Apple has turned a blind eye on these terrible facts in order to continue to be successful.

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  4. I thought your post was very well written and had nice organization and logic behind it. It was interesting that you focused some of your writing not so much on the negative aspects of Foxconn but on the positive. The points you made about alternative options to sweatshops pose interesting questions about the best way to improve the situations at places like Foxconn. For example, if working regulations were drastically changed in China, whats to stop Apple from relocating to another country where they can continue to do the same thing they have been. This is clearly a very difficult situation that I think you made a few interesting points about.

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  5. In stating that by “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” do you think that the willingness for consumers to improve working conditions at their own expense (i.e. the increased price of the already expensive Apple products) will be a barrier to improving such working conditions? I think this is especially hard for the consumers as the workers whom are afflicted by such conditions are so distanced from the consumer, being on the other side of the world, that it is hard for the consumer to connect to these peoples.

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  6. Regardless of how strongly you identify with the positive side of this article, I like that you brought a different perspective to this article. Looking through this lens, a few ideas emerge. Foxconn exists in China for a reason. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Sony, Nokia, and Amazon, to name a few, all use Foxconn as a main manufacturer. Each of these, and other Foxconn clients are at the forefront of our ever advancing technological world; frequently coming out with the latest innovations and raising the bar on each other. The pace of technology moves at a pace far too quickly for the law, or ethics to keep up with it. As consumers, we show our unwavering support for innovative products from each of these companies. Assuming we do so being aware of Foxconn and similar unethical incidents, perhaps the atrocities at Foxconn are simply not important enough to halt technological progress. Keeping this progress going at any cost is, as society has judged, perhaps not a bad thing.

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