In Mike Daisy’s monologue the beginning description of his devotion to Apple is both entertaining, but scarily relateable. I have been excitedly waiting for the release of iPhone 6 and am planning to purchase it soon. And while tech is interesting, Deisy’ description of his visit to China and the social problems he encountered there really captured my attention.The first thing that blew me away about the story of Foxconn is the sheer size of the plant. There are 430,000 employees and dining halls that hold up to 10,000 employees each. If we took the entire student body at Bucknell it would only fill one third of a Foxconn dining hall. In essence there are armies of people hand making tech products.
The description of the conditions in the plants are also startling and surreal. Take for example hanging nets to prevent suicide, it sends the message “You can jump, but you can’t escape.” Or the blatant disregard for labor laws with many young teens working at the plant. Also, a twelve hour working day is standard and while the narrator was in China someone at Foxconn died after working a thirty four hour long work shift. In the US such conditions would lead to outrage, sweeping protests and legislation.
A part of the labor conditions are due to the oppression of unions and the corruption of the Labor Board. Here the discovery of a “worker blacklist” would be considered a scandal and lead to litigation. However, through our consumerism and selective ignorance, Americans are supporting these labor conditions. But surely the American consumer alone is not to blame. The evidence presented in the podcast raises more questions than is answers; especially about social responsibility. What about the tech companies like Apple that are providing business to these Chinese sweat shops? Or how about the Chinese government that is failing to regulate conditions and improve them? Are they not also responsible? And if reform is to take place, where should it come from and in what form?