Blog 2

What are Foxconn’s solutions?

The working conditions and the story of the employees in “Mr. Daisey and Apple” podcast was something that did not surprise me. As an East Asian studies minor at Bucknell I have heard about the situation that exists at Foxconn and other similar sweatshops around the world. The podcast begins with a discussion of Shenzhen how Deng Xiaoping made a deal to “use our (their) people…do what ever you want to our people, but give us a modern China”. This is a narrow viewpoint as to how Deng tried to increase direct foreign investment in the Special Economic Zones (SEZ’s). As the commentator at the end of Daisey’s monologue points out the country as a whole has greatly benefited from SEZ’s as well as the factories such as Foxconn that have come along with it. The commentator suggests that factory conditions in China are far superior to the ones that exist in countries such as Indonesia, then why do we focus so much on China?

Following Mike Daisey’s discussion of the worker complaints and the measures that have been put in place to try to reduce suicide rates he asks whether “you really think apple doesn’t know”. He then follows this up by saying that “do Apple see what they want to see?” and I believe that they probably to some extend do. Should Apple be solely responsible for the working conditions of a contracted factory, I don’t think so. If companies such as Apple are in fact creating all their products in factories that have poor working standards why do people continue to use their products? Not everyone is ignorant to the working conditions and still I assume most of the same people continue to use Apple products.

I agree that the working conditions that were described in Mike Daisey’s trip to Foxconn were indeed not ones that I would  want or wish anyone to work in. With that being said what is the appropriate solution? Should we increase the salary of the workers, shorten their hours, add extra employees, and include health benefits? If the products were all made in the USA it would be assured that all these things would happen. With all these benefits suicide rates would go down, employee satisfaction would go up but along with it so would the price. In a competitive global market consumers are more focused on competitive pricing than ever. As with the case in Indonesia if a country is no longer able or willing to minimize the costs of production the factories will simply move to another corner of the globe. While I do not like or advocate the working conditions that the factory workers in factories such as the ones in Shenzhen face China has been able to greatly increases its GDP over the last 30 years.

7 thoughts on “What are Foxconn’s solutions?

  1. I agree with all your arguments and towards the end you ask the question of what Foxconn should do as their solution, so my question to you is what is one thing you think should be done? Do you think moving to the US would decrease suicide rates because it is on our home turf and we therefore care more, and at the same time would moving to the US hurt Apple’s profit margins seeing how the cost of labor and materials and everything seem to be higher?

    • To be perfectly honest, I genuinely don’t know what should be done. I do think that if production was moved to the US suicide rates would decrease but that doesn’t necessarily mean that factory workers would be working in idealistic working conditions. “I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave” by Mac McClelland documents a journalists time working for minimum wage factory located in Ohio, where employees share many of the same working conditions as those in China.

      I think that profit margins would be affected should production move to the US. I think that in order for production to move to the US or a country where working conditions are ideal there would have to be a shift in the mentality of the Apple consumers. Again I am uncertain how such a large shift would take place.

  2. The working conditions at Foxconn seem pretty bad. From your East Asian Studies background, do you know why the commentator may have suggested that factory conditions in China are far superior to those in other countries, such as Indonesia?

  3. I agree that Apple is not solely responsible for the working conditions present at the Foxconn factory. They understand that they are choosing to outsource manufacturing to China for the cheap labor costs and I personally feel that China is more at fault for taking poor care of the working conditions in their own country. It seems that the Chinese are just trying to insure that their electronics customers will stick with their manufacturing plants by providing the cheapest labor possible. It is a very sticky situation that Apple probably doesn’t want to dip its fingers into especially since they have a reputation to be secretive about almost every move they make.

  4. You say that everyone is not ignorant to the working conditions in China and yet they continue to use Apple products. Do you think it is possible that people, and society in general become so enamored with the new latest and greatest Apple tech that they are willing to accept the ends justifying the means? And obviously this goes for all the companies using labor forces such as this because Apple clearly is not the only one.

  5. But is Apple responsible to be a leader in changing the systems or institutions that exist in China? How has its support of pro-free trade policies created the situation on the ground?

  6. Pingback: Reactions to Blog Post 2 | BGS 8- Thursday Section

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