Before I express my reaction to Mr. Daisey’s discussion about Apple, I would like to state that upon further research, it has come to my attention that Daisey embellished his experiences in Shenzhen and was not entirely factual with his story. Daisey publicly admitted that he said things onstage that he did not personally experience. After discovering this, it changed my view on Mike Daisey’s credibility. However, Daisey’s intent was to shed light on human rights violations in Chinese Foxconn factories, and in that area he succeeded.
First and foremost, Daisey captivated me. Although I could not see him, I could feel his presence through his oration. As I listened to Mr. Daisey’s podcast, two things particularly intrigued me: the blatant human rights violations in Foxconn manufacturing centers, and Apple’s blatant disregard for these conditions. Putting aside Daisey’s misrepresentation, his account of poor labor conditions unwillingly provoked a sense of guilt within me for enjoying my iPhone and my iPad and all of their capabilities, while the individuals making these products work up to 16 hours a day. I do not believe Daisey’s purpose was to impose a sense of guilt on his audience but rather a sense of awareness. Following his description of the Foxconn factory and the opinions of Foxconn workers, Daisey inquires: “Do you really think that Apple doesn’t know? In a company obsessed with the details… or do they just see what they want to see.” This quote resonated in my mind and forced me to pause the podcast to think and to ask rhetorical questions of my own: Does Apple care about its Foxconn workers or does Apple just care about profits? Do I care about the treatment of Apple’s Foxconn workers or do I just care that my iPhone loads Facebook fast enough?
Daisey wants to start this conversation; he wants his audience to ask questions. Between the worker suicides and disfigured hands and fingers, there is clearly a problem with Apple’s manufacturing. But what is being done to change these conditions? Daisey shared that when auditors come in to inspect the facility, the managers replace workers as young as 13 years old with elderly workers, to hide their youth employees. Apple should – and must – take a more active role in offering a safer environment that adheres to international labor laws. Apple can design cutting-edge and innovative products, but it cannot stop a 13 year old girl from piecing together an iPhone in its manufacturing plant. This is the issue.