The Deadly Labor Behind Our Phones, Laptops and Consumer Gadgets – COLORLINES. I think it’s important to stop and assess what role we all have in this. I don’t have an iphone, i have a laptop though, and my poor nokia will only last so long…
In Foxconn’s highest-paying factories, located in China’s coastal cities, workers earn just $1.18 an hour, and that only after a recent 30 percent increase in wages. But the manufacturer’s loudest critics point out that blame for horrific labor conditions isn’t Foxconn’s alone. As long as multinational corporations that market popular brands to Western consumers demand fast, high-quality work at rock-bottom prices, consumer electronics will be made in sweatshops.
“Foxconn’s labor conditions are very poor, but its root causes are low prices from multinational companies and tight delivery schedules,” says Li Qiang, executive director of China Labor Watch. “Workers are only seen as fitting production needs rather than as individual human beings.”
gotta love capitalism.
Workers typically live in factory dorms with roommates who work different shifts and speak different dialects of Chinese. Differences in schedule and language prevent workers from forming close relationships—a boon for production, since isolation makes for more focused workers. “When you come in, every aspect of your personal life has been determined for you,” says Ellen Friedman, lecturer in labor studies at Sun Yat-Sen University. “Foxconn does everything it can to avoid and minimize social interaction.”
it also prevents workers from building any sort of momentum of change. but go on..
After the unwanted media attention from the suicides, Foxconn installed nets to catch would-be jumpers and CEO Terry Gou solicited the help of social workers, psychologists and even Buddhist monks. But the 30 percent wage hike was perhaps the most significant change—and now it has become an excuse to invest in robots instead of humans.
Although Foxconn has drawn media scrutiny because of its size and high-profile clients, its working conditions are actually standard within the industry. Low pay, constant overtime, and an unforgiving pace of work arethe norm.
Multinational corporations claim innocence about working conditions, but the reality is that sweatshops are inevitable when retailers don’t share their wealth with the people who produce their products. At least a third of the money we spend on a new phone or computer goes directly into the pocket of the retailer. Apple makes even more, averaging a 60 percent profit margin on its products.
The majority of production costs go to materials, like screens and chips. Only a fraction goes to workers. Take the iPad, for example, which is the sole item produced at Foxconn’s 100,000-worker factory in Chengdu. Industry analyst iSuppli estimates that Apple spends only $9 on labor for every $499 iPad. That $9 is apparently too expensive, since Foxconn has been taking steps to lower labor costs, first with the inland factories and now with the introduction of a one-million robot workforce.
Now is where I stop and wonder, why don’t more people care? If we are driving this demand because of the ridiculous rate at which we consume the products, the fate of people in other countries who are literally slaving away could be in our hands. at our ap-savvy fingertips. Imagine if we decided to be in solidarity with those people, those human fucking beings, who are allowing us the privilege of having technology at our fingertips while they barely get paid 1 dollar an hour and are in completely inhumane conditions. We all like to believe we are good people, when our moral compass shifts to the negative it’s a very uncomfortable feeling, but we’re going to have to start paying attention eventually. Everyone says consumers have the power, so why not exercise it? And it wouldn’t even be that hard! Can someone please make an app for that?