Posts Tagged ‘forced overtime’

Is it ethical to buy an iPhone or iPad made in a Chinese sweatshop?

February 14, 2012

 

My amazing iPhone 3GS was made in Foxconn’s huge factory in Shenzen, China, where workers toil long hours under unhealthy and downright dangerous conditions, put in forced, unpaid overtime, sleep in crowded dormitories, and—occasionally, commit suicide.

Now I’m ready to upgrade to the newest iPhone 4S, with Siri, the personal assistant with attitude. But can I give Apple more business with a clear conscience?

The outsourcing of millions of jobs to low cost countries has eliminated the American consumer electronics industry. Virtually all desktop and laptop computers are made in Asia, along with nearly all mobile phones, TV sets, and radios. Americans have gone on to other jobs, but many have never found employment as good as they had in manufacturing.

The cost to Americans is arguably far outweighed by the benefits of a dizzying variety of goods that are far, far more affordable than they were years ago. But do our benefits come at the cost of exploiting workers in China, for example?

If we look at the working conditions at Foxconn we’re tempted to say yes. And many people have taken what they consider a principled stand against buying Apple products, or indeed, any products made under sub-standard—by American standards—conditions.

But the Foxconn workers aren’t slaves—they flock to Shenzen (more…)

What can a Nike worker in Indonesia do with a daily wage of $4.80? Rent a bare room, eat two meager meals, and ride to work. Jim Keady explains

October 20, 2011

Nike workers in Indonesia earn about 1,285,000 rupiahs a month, or about $4.80 a day. Jim Keady went there to find out what their earnings can buy. Here’s the result.

For comparison, 1000 rupiahs is about a dime. If the worker is single they can earn enough to rent a tiny room, buy two meals a day and a couple of small bananas, and have enough left over to pay their bus fare to work. If they have kids, tough luck.

Jim has been at this for fourteen years now. He’s begun to gain some traction with Nike. They used to say it wasn’t any of their business: Founding CEO Phil Knight famously defended Nike’s practice by disclaiming, “We don’t make shoes.”

Now Nike slowly follows Jim’s lead, gradually accepting some responsibility for some of the abuses Jim exposes.

Here’s an example of a recent kind-of-success: Nike acknowledging that workers were being forced to work unpaid overtime, then being pressured to keep quiet about it.

Hooray for Jim Keady.