Harsh Reality


I knew almost immediately what this podcast would be about after listening for less than a minute. I have often heard of the poor working conditions in factories overseas, and so I wasn’t surprised by most of the information. What I was surprised by, however, by the biased way in which this story was told. The message is powerful and compelling, but lacking in some important information. Luckily, many of the questions I felt I wanted to ask Mr. Daisey as he told his story were answered for me following the debrief in the podcast.

My initial reaction to each element of Mr. Daisey’s story was certainly not shock. As he described witnessing child labor, poor living conditions, and long working hours, I felt as though Mr. Daisey left out some important information about conditions as whole in Shenzhen, China, and the Far East in general. There are many cultural differences between the United States and China that would prevent an American from comprehending a factory with such “poor” working conditions. However, as the debrief touched on, the conditions at Foxconn are not only normal, but better than conditions in other factories in China.  China is deep in a race to stay ahead of the pack and to do so, they have become ruthless in their expectations from employees. The Chinese have mastered the art of Industry. Mr. Daisy has mastered the art of storytelling and as he told of speaking with many underage children I waited for him to address the minimum working age in China, or why/how many people exactly live in the “cement cubes” on Foxconn’s property.  Mr. Daisey also failed to mention anything about wages, which I find skeptical.

As an American company, Apple must already know of its critics. No American would ever want to work in a factory with a known substance (n-hexane) that could destroy his/her hands, or work overly demanding hours. This practice is obviously unacceptable. Apple has addressed many issues and will have to address many more in order to defend its case of producing its products in a location that offers minimal cost. Ethics is a hugely important modern business issue and to overcome any challenges, Apple needs to remain alert.  Mr. Daisey and his story bring an important issue to light, but I would have appreciated more insight to the necessity of this harsh reality.

 

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3 responses to “Harsh Reality

  1. The down play of other factories is something that also struck me while listening to this podcast. It was, in my opinion, fairly casually mentioned that factories in Indonesia have much worse conditions. Worse than using chemicals that will ruin hands? Where are all these other factories? Where are the worst? What companies are they manufacturing for?

  2. I was similarly curious about what the minimum working age is in China. It is legal for 14 year olds to work in the U.S. although the hours are limited. Mike Daisey made it sounds like 14 years old was absolutely unheard of for a worker. There are certainly much worse conditions than the Foxconn factory that exist in China.
    That said, Foxconn supplies for MANY companies other than just Apple. To boycott Apple to show dissapointment in Foxconn seems unfair. Additionally, this would not be a matter of picking sides, like Mac vs. PC. PC components are made by Foxconn too. To boycott Foxconn products, one would have to boycott everything electronic– Amazon, Acer, Sony, Dell, HP, Nokia, Samsung, Microsoft, and more. In a way, learning these companies were all collectively sourced by Foxconn made me feel better about Apple’s policies and buying Apple products because a collective problem can have a collective answer. If all electronic suppliers bound together against poor labor practices at Foxconn and other manufacturers, the effect could be drastic.

  3. I really liked your point that emphasized the cultural differences between our two societies. While I, as an American, may consider these working conditions to be horrific, how am I supposed to understand how they affect the Chinese workers if I know little to nothing about their daily lives and culture? It would be very interesting to see a documentary about unfair labor practices that is produced by someone from their own culture. Unfortunately, I don’t think that would slip by the government sensors. I guess my question is, are they really as unhappy as we say they are? If so, let’s do something about it. But we can’t project our own social ideals onto their society and then pass judgment.

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