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.