We use a lot of things everyday. Cellphones, clothes, pans or notebooks. But have you ever wondered – who made these things ? Nowadays your phone can do almost everything, but first someone has to make your phone. It is noteworthy to think about.
Electronic equipments are produced mainly in China, but this sector develop really quickly also in Tailiand, Indonesia or Phlipinines. The population struggling with poverty is looking for an employment in factories which is used by employers. Salary is not enough to cover basic needs such as health care or home. Minors are often employed and work conditions are horrible. There is no basic protection to the employee. No one respects the rights.
One of the most controversial example is the factory of Foxconn which produces things for companies such as aApple, Intel or Motorola. The factory employs about 20-30 thousand people. Their work day is different than ours. They do not have a break for facebook, cigarette or lunch. They often work 14 hours a change. One worker died after working 34 hours. Workers live near the plants, often several people in one room. This lifestyle has led some people to the brink of mental breakdown which resulted in a record number of suicides. Not only a work is the cause of death or illness. Chinese workers use chemicals that threaten their life and health. Same company denies the allegations but also promises to address the issue.
Foxconn factory and electronic devices are not the only example of the still existing problem of labor law. Another of them is the clothing industry. In Asia produces almost every well-known brand: H&M, Inditex, Nike and even Calvin Klein. Why Asia? It simply pays off. Comparing the cost of producing shirt – in Asia it costs only 22 cents. For Bangladesh, the second after China clothing manufacturer in the world, is worth 19 billion dollars branch of business – it generates 80% export. Factories employ nearly 4 million people. Corrupt officials, often controlled by politicians, as appropriate money falsify certificates and stamps on the documents confirming the safety of buildings. However, they are not safe. After the tragedy that occurred in one of the factories in Bangladesh eyes of the world finally drew attention to the problem. One of the most popular manifestations of opposition became #whomademyclothes action, which deals with improving the situation in the factories used by large corporations.
Are there any perspectives improvement on the current situation? It is getting more and more popular to replace people. Today, Foxconn factory has 10 thousand robots and this number will increase to 300 thousand in the next year and one million in the next 3 years. This carries other consequences – a huge number of people will lose their jobs. Another aspect that can help in improving the situation of the workers is the aging of Chinese society, reduces the proportion of people living in rural areas and increase the number of educated people who are looking for a better job than in factories.
Each of us should think #whomademystuff.
by: Karolina Banaś
- The Guardian, (2014). Ethical fashion: where are your clothes made? Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/16/ethical-living-fashion-supply-chains-lucy-siegle. [Accessed 31 Dec. 2016]
- Wired, 1 Million Workers. 90 Million iPhones. 17 Suicides. Who’s to Blame? Available at: https://www.wired.com/2011/02/ff_joelinchina/all/1. [Accessed 30 Dec. 2016]
- The Guardian, (2011). Taiwan iPhone manufacturer replaces Chinese workers with robots. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/aug/01/foxconn-robots-replace-chinese-workers. [Accessed 1 Nov. 2016]
- The Guardian, (2016). Your new iPhone’s features include oppression. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/19/your-new-iphone-features-oppression-inequality-vast-profit. [Accessed 31 Dec. 2016]
- Salon, (2011). Apple cans game modeled on Foxconn tech workers’ suicides. [Accessed 29 Dec. 2016]