After listening to the Mike Daisey’s story of visiting the factories in China, I had a similar reaction to the one he explained at the beginning of his talk: I have never thought in a dedicated way how the technology I use is physically made. Just the fact that I had never even heard of the city of Shenzhen (I had to google how to spell it correctly) really made me realize how little I knew or thought about how my iPhone and laptop were put together.
I feel that sweatshops are things that everyone knows exist, but just tuck away in the back of their minds so they are not forced to feel bad about using all of their gadgets. I know that is what I have done in the past. But the truth is hard to ignore after listening to Mike list all of the terrors he witnessed while in Shenzhen. The number of suicides, lack of job rotation, long hours, and low pay are all issues that need to be addressed in some way. The problem lies in the fact of what to do to address them? As much as we would like to see the huge corporations step up and refuse to use sweatshops, it would most likely just lead to different companies taking their place and swallowing up the first corporations with their cheap labor.
I think the key lies in the workers themselves stepping up for their own rights and it seems like they are beginning to do just that. With a 10-20% turnover rate per month that these factories are seeing, at some point it should become more economical to increase wages and change conditions to keep workers for longer periods of time. As long as there are slews of willing workers to step in and work inhuman hours, these factories have no incentive to change their ways. If the workers in China continue to stand up for themselves and refuse to work under these conditions, hopefully the factories will be forced to increase wages and better conditions, which seems to be starting to happen now.