My response to the podcast

The podcast started off in a very powerful way about the security guards trying to prevent anyone from peeking into the Foxconn factory and the suicide prevention nets hanging around the building. These may sound over-the-top but growing up in Burma where labor is way cheaper than technology, the harsh working conditions told in the podcast sounds realistic to me. I have also seen a lot of factories like this in my country too. They never check ages of the workers, require them to work for 12 hours shift a day, and always know beforehand when the government officials are coming to check the working conditions in the factory. Whenever I heard this kind of stories from factory workers, I used to question them why they don’t complain, but their responses are monotonously “it has always been like this”. It sounds so much like people just don’t care about changing anything anymore.

Recently, the government passed a law in my country limiting minimum monthly wage of a worker to 30000 kyats (roughly equivalent to $40 a month) and the response from the corporate world is “This is slowing down foreign investments”. It looks as if outsourcing has thrown the large manufacturing firms back into the feudal ages, capitalizing on human sufferings to make profit. Today, we try to visualize that the products that we are using _ laptops, smartphones, TVs_ are assembled by powerful machines that put together all the parts in preprogrammed locations, accurate to 1/1000 of an inch. But the reality is many of the products labeled “made in (an Asian/African country)” are still all or partly hand-made. The outsourcing is not just limited to labor but also to human rights violations, environmental damages, ruined futures.

The podcast mentioned a lot of human casualties in Foxconn production line and abusive treatments from the factory supervisors and Labor board. It would be nice to know whether China has laws protecting factory workers from such treatments. Because in my country, there are very few regulations to protect the workers’ right; so, human resource “mismanagement” is not illegal, just unethical. May be the Chinese government thinks protecting the workers might slow down foreign investments as well and that people can still have jobs in this way even though they are not treated respectfully. Hence, it would be interesting to find out why this kind of mismanagement happens like this in the first place.


3 thoughts on “My response to the podcast

  1. Hooray! Lots of responses. Now go ahead and comment on others.

    Which country is that? GOod point about laws AND about enforcement.

    Is it fair that the economic needs of foreign investors override the political right to control minimu wage or safety for workers?

  2. Your personal experiences with this issue give you a great insight into what is really going on here. I particularly liked your point that these conditions are not always illegal, but just unethical. It seems that the foreign investments that created these factories in the first place keep constant pressure on them to remain cheap and efficient even though some companies claim to be working for better conditions.

  3. Foreign investment is essential for Burma’s development and that’s exactly what the government is gearing towards with law reforms. "
    The minimum wage is to protect the workers but the law itself creates problems. When the labor is getting more expensive, companies will increase the price of the products and the prices of all the consumer goods will increase. The result_ more inflation that make everyone worse off. I think the responsibility of the government is to align the worker's interest with that of the company; offering tax relief to factories which uphold safe working conditions_ for instance. Foreign investment exists because labor is cheap and it's best to keep it that way. Without foreign investment, a lot of people will lose jobs. It's just that the foreign companies need to manage workers in a more responsible way.

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