It’s called a first job Mr. Daisey….

Photograph: Joe Tan/Reuters

(Young Foxconn worker stands up after Daisey finishes his claw-man fabrication)

Mr. Daisey the Apple problem you have been talking about is not a corporate problem but a cultural problem and one that begins with you. I have been an employee at Foxconn for 6 months and know better than anyone in this room that you grossly misunderstand the relationship Foxconn has with its people.

(Foxconn worker addresses the audience)

First off, there is reason most of the workers you met appear to be young. How many 40 or 50 year olds do you recall meeting? My guess would be very few because in China Foxconn is a “starter” job and a highly desirable one at that. It is a stepping-stone to greater things for those that are hard working and while the hours are long it is a far better alternative to rural jobs friends in my hometown are stuck with. Believe it or not Mr. Daisey, we do have access to the news and understand that the starting salary is $2 an hour, which may seem very low to you wealthy Westerners. As you say Foxconn is a huge company. But sit back think about your anti-capitalism higher wages argument for a moment. High wages would force Foxconn to downsize and offer fewer total jobs to young people starting out like me. Salaries have already improved 25%, how much more do you think is realistic while allowing Foxconn to still remain competitive?

You frankly do not understand our culture Mr. Daisey. There are 3,000 people lining up for Foxconn jobs every week. In this economy people with jobs is better than people without them. While our opportunities are not comparable to those you have in the West, they are in fact opportunities nonetheless and I intend to make the most of mine and prove myself rather than petition my government to have higher wages and benefits handed to me.


8 responses to “It’s called a first job Mr. Daisey….

  1. The economic approach you took to counteract Daisey’s wages argument is quite valid. I could imagine a worker stepping on stage and saying what you wrote. To go along with what you said, similar to people in America working at fast-food restaurants, most Chinese don’t want to work at Foxconn forever. It is a first job to get experience and earn some money. If Foxconn were to raise the salaries of its workers, it wouldn’t be able to keep its slim profit margin. Therefore, it would have to request more money from Apple. Lord knows that Apple would then increase the price of its products an astronomical amount. My digression aside, good job!

  2. You bring up a valid point as to why Mr. Daisey may have thought that the workers he met looked so young. Working at Foxconn is a stepping-stone for these young employees, and I agree, it is definitely a desirable job option. Factory workers are making more money than would through other potential employment options. As Westerners, we have a hard time understanding that a job such as this could be desirable under another culture’s standards.

  3. Giving Foxconn a voice is a very good approach. I also think that although the conditions at the Foxconn factory is not comparable to factories in America, Foxconn is providing jobs for the workers and a way to support themselves. Writing this particular blog made me more curious about how Foxconn workers actually feel. I want to know more about their family live. If Foxconn is that bad then why are there 3,000 people lined up to get a job there. Foxconn has to be better than what ever their ulternative is.

  4. I really liked how you went about this post. The concept that a job at a company like Foxconn would be a “first jobs probably something that a lot of people don’t understand or wouldn’t consider. In fact it retrospect it would make sense. Most teenagers and young adults in the U.S. take a first job just because they need it, and want to have a little bit of money so they can contribute. The Nike case suggested that the young workers at these factories are not the primary source of income for families. So in reality, people see the amount of money that workers are making over in countries like China, and upset by it. But what people really need to consider when comparing wages are the differences in lifestyles from country to country. I think that you truly were able to put this story into a different context and I applaud you for that.

  5. Very well thought out interruption. The whole idea of the “first job” is exactly something a Foxconn worker would mention. I think it’s rare to find anyone that wants to work in a factory for their career. There are few people that have a life goal of working at Foxconn for the long term. Of course the employees are young! They need the jobs and their salary is definitely better at Foxconn than it would be elsewhere, just like you mentioned.

  6. I think that the “starter job” idea introduces a really interesting concept to the discussion surrounding child labor. in a developing nation, teenagers and young adults need to contribute financially to the family in order to support their everyday life. People probably do look younger than usual exiting the factory since they are young and are not surrounded by as many older workers. I also believe that this monologue highlights the cultural differences which makes this problem much larger. You cannot explain cultural differences and I feel like our shock over the situation is normal for everyone who begins working at a young age in China.

  7. Taking the stance of a Foxconn worker makes the interruption very believable. There’s no way Mike Daisy could say anything to counter argue the arguement against someone who actually works at Foxconn. Stating facts like “there are 3,000 people lining up for Foxconn jobs every week” proves that people want to work for Foxconn. This interruption would make Mike Daisy sweat.

  8. I am a huge fan of the economic approach you took to this situation. I never looked at FoxConn as a “starter job” before. The way you took the workers point of view and explained to the audience and Mr. Daisey that you need this job and many others are waiting to take it from you; so it is almost like you are telling Mr. Daisey “shut up before you get me fired”. I think a viewpoint from a FoxConn worker would completely shut down Mr. Daisey’s argument and in some ways shift the focus of the audience from Mr. Daisey’s story to the worker’s story about the plant and their lives.

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