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Forum Post: Foxconn Bears The Brunt Of Ivory Tower Assault On Capitalism

Posted 2 years ago on April 10, 2012, 8:55 a.m. EST by monetarist (40)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Taken from http://techcrunch.com/2012/04/09/foxconn-kogan/

This article presents another side of the debate. The truth, I believe, lies somewhere in between.


Recent media reports about working conditions in Apple’s (Foxconn’s) Chinese factories are way off the mark.

Through Kogan, I have been working with China for the past six years. Having most of our production done in China, we take our factories and working conditions very seriously. I regularly visit all of our Chinese manufacturing facilities to keep an eye on what is going on and I am always talking to the factory owners, managers and assembly line staff.

Lately we have been hearing that companies like Apple are exploiting their Chinese employees. I think this suggestion is ridiculous. They are doing the exact opposite. The people who are making the accusations of “exploitation” have obviously never visited China or spoken to any of the factory staff or are deliberately misleading readers.

Chinese staff are generally very grateful for the work they are doing. They are all doing it by choice because it is the best opportunity they have to earn money and gain valuable skills. Not only do the workers earn enough for a very comfortable living, they also have their accommodation and most of their living expenses covered by the factories. Which western world employer does this? While the wages that the factory workers receive may seem low to a westerner, general living expenses in China are lower than the west. Many of the workers send excess money to their home villages to help support their families.

They are learning about quality control, the importance of scientific processes, assembly procedures and how to use some of the most sophisticated equipment in the world. They are also very proud of the part they play in the final finished product (for those who assemble the groundbreaking Apple products, you couldn’t be prouder of the finished product). While to some westerners it might appear to be repetitive work, the claims of sweatshop like conditions are patently false. Often the next best option would be to go back home to their village and work in agriculture for much less money and in much worse conditions than the factory could offer.

Although Foxconn’s employees get to work on some of the most innovative and important products in the world, it’s true to say that it’s not all glory. In May 2011, there was an explosion at one of the factories that killed two staff. Any loss of human life is tragic and must be avoided at all cost. It’s very easy to just blame Apple, Foxconn and industrial development in China for this, but that won’t get us anywhere. The fact is that accidents like this happen everywhere in the world — even in the most developed countries like America, England and Germany.

The most important thing is to do everything possible to avoid such occurrences. We must learn from them, take immediate action and ensure we put in serious measures to ensure these things never happen again. It is also important to note that more deaths occur during the backbreaking hard labour of the pre industrial economies than the cutting edge factories, like Foxconn’s or Kogan’s. It is very easy to focus on isolated incidents, but all facts need to be seen in context, and when one takes a sober view of industrial development in China, only one conclusion can reasonably be drawn – the lot of the Chinese is improving.

A key point to note from all the commentary we have seen from the concerned reporters, is not what is being alleged by them, but what is not. Despite their best efforts at exposing the supposed evils of industrialism, nothing akin to child labour or real abuse has even been alleged. The reason is simple – the manufacturing revolution in China has improved people’s lives, including workers’ lives.

Before the 20th Century in the West, and even in many parts of the world today, most children were made to work. Why don’t we see children working in the West today, or even in developing economies like the Chinese industrial zones? It isn’t because of some government decree banning child labour, it’s due to economic growth and capitalism. When a family survives on a dollar a day, they have no choice but to make their children work. But, as the economy develops and parents grow richer, they support their children’s education – freeing their children from labour, and providing genuine opportunities to the next generation.

I am actually writing this while travelling to Hong Kong after spending a week in Shenzhen. Last night, I caught up with someone I met in 2006. At that time, she was working as a product tester at a factory. Since then, she progressed to being a quality-control team leader and then she got a job in the sales department of a large factory. She recently quit that role and became an entrepreneur – starting her own business where she helps clients all over the world source products and find the right factory for their requirements. I asked her how business is going and she replied:

“For now it is very slow but it is growing. I currently earn less money than in my previous job at the factory, but I am now working harder than ever – over 15 hours a day – and constantly learning new things. I am enjoying it very much. I now have two employees and I will continue to work hard and learn and one day I will have as many employees as you.”

Her response reminded me of how I felt about work when I started Kogan. Working long hours is not a sign that workers are being exploited. I know plenty of entrepreneurs who are very excited that they spend almost every waking moment creating something that will make the world a better place. The Chinese strike me as very enterprising people, who want to improve their lives and are prepared to work hard to achieve their goals.

The Chinese care more about learning and being productive than they do about how many sick days and annual leave days they will get each year. They live in a rapidly developing economy and the general attitude is “I want to work really hard and develop skills and progress in life.” They all know that they are in control of their destiny and the way to achieve what they want is through hard work.

So, what would happen if these self-righteous commentators got their way? It wouldn’t really hurt Apple or any other manufacturers like Samsung, Kogan, Sony, or LG. Assembly lines can be moved to new countries, or even replaced with robots. The people who would be hurt the most are the very people who the commentators are ostensibly trying to protect. It would mean that factories are producing less, there is less work around and inevitably lots of people would lose their jobs. People who were happy with their employer, their job, their wage, their learning opportunity and their livelihood would lose their job, despite the fact that they never once complained.

We also need to recognize that all countries go through a phase of industrial manufacturing during their development. This happened in England through the industrial revolution, and in the USA in the 19th century. We should not be trying to deprive the Chinese of increasing their prosperity through this significant and mandatory stage of development.

I believe there is a lot of value in an open and transparent discussion over important issues. I also believe that discussions are best had with accurate information and facts rather than emotional fear-mongering sermons from people sitting atop ivory towers with little experience in what they are talking about. We need to remember that no Chinese employees complained about their situation or working conditions. It was fabricated by opportunistic reporters vying for a few clicks or views.

If anyone has serious concerns about this issue, I highly recommend they actually get on the ground in China and travel to some factories and speak to the staff – I am happy to assist in this process, because I am doing it all the time. In the meantime, whether the fear mongering continues or not, Kogan will continue to closely monitor and audit all our manufacturing partners in the same way we do with all our vendors. It’s very important to us that everyone handling Kogan products is happy, because happy people provide better products and services.

53 Comments

53 Comments


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[-] 3 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

I mean, either starve to death, or slave away in a sweat shop. Only a narcissistic sociopath (or a barely literate fucktard) would define this as a "choice" ...

[-] 1 points by monetarist (40) 2 years ago

Come and spend some time in India or China and you will realize that such choices (or tradeoffs) are part of everyday life. And Foxconn is any day better than working in the unorganized sector which is unregulated and unmonitored. What the author present here is actally how the situation is on the ground.

[-] 1 points by shadz66 (19985) 2 years ago

FYI & Consideration : "Bad Apple ? Why doesn't it employ more US workers ? ----- The electronics giant assembles its gadgets in China but, according to new research, if it moved its production home, it would still be hugely profitable and create thousands of jobs", by Aditya Chakrabortty from The UK 'Guardian' : http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/apr/23/bad-apple-employ-more-us-workers.

ad iudicium ...

[-] 1 points by monetarist (40) 2 years ago

This Aditya Chakraborty obviously does not understand business at all and certainly not supply chain. You can't just move final assembly in US while your component suppliers are all in Asia. Do you fathom the cost of logistics of such a move?

[-] 1 points by monetarist (40) 2 years ago

Not to mention Apple is an MNC and it's loyality is to it's shareholders and not the people of USA. It can just as easily shift it's R&D base to another developed country and yet retain top talent because of the salaries it pays to it's employees.

Besides, why demand all that patriotism from Apple. How many of these people demanding Apple to be patriotic would not go to another country for a job if it paid twice as much?

[-] 1 points by monetarist (40) 2 years ago

The analysis of the cost of iphone 4 is flawed. There are plenty of other costs which are not included in the labor cost, but even if that were not the case, there are other costs to doing business in America other than $21 an hour, things you simply do not have to pay in China, the biggest being health cover, then theres the issue of unionisation, and those workplaces which are unionised have a tendancy to strike (just ask Boeing). Then theres the fact American workers expect all sorts of things the Chinese wouldn't consider (they are pleased to have a job) from car parking / free bus travel to in house coffee bars (yes the workers pay for drinks but space costs money). Also real estate costs much more in US than in China where Foxconn has it's manufacturing plant.

That would surely bring the margins down to the 30%-40% region, well below Samsung which does manufacture in China. The share price would be halfed or worse, investors would lose money and dump more shares leading to a further drop in share price. Each an every Apple employee who had ESOP would see their fortune dwindling, some may even quit the company and join, say, Samsung. I can go on and on.

But most importantly, any management team that even dares suggest making a move that halves profit margins would be booted out by the board (share holders) at the blink of an eye.

[-] 2 points by shadz66 (19985) 2 years ago

I think that I may well have played to your professional expertise with that link but at least you read it and replied. Thus some rhetorical questions :

Are all the industrialised production processes of modern consumer capitalism, now merely destined to become just a simple race to the bottom for the cheapest, most supine and quiescent workforce and most 'business friendly' and possibly most authoritarian regimes ?!

Are the board and "shareholders" really one and the same ?!!

Does Henry Ford's dictum of 'paying the workforce enough to buy the products' have any bearing these days and are "Externalities" ever accounted for ?!!!

fiat justitia ...

[-] 1 points by monetarist (40) 2 years ago
  1. No they aren't. There will always be high value manufacturing. Which is why a Ford Mustang or a Bentley is not made in China.

  2. The board is supposed to implement the will of the shareholders. Aren't they? And the management is supposed to implement the will of the board.

  3. I doubt if the average assembler at Ford's plant was affluent enough to buy his products, considering the cost of a Ford then and the hourly wage rate. The reason he increased wages of assembler was to discourage shirking because shrking in an assembly line results in even more defects downstream and the cost of correcting those defects were far higher.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Really, from the perspective of how this sort of trade impacts our own economy, it's undesirable (and that should really be enough). Indeed, if we amended our trade policy in ways that were more favorable to our own citizens, it would force the Chinese to shift its focus towards domestic demand (which would be more favorable for its own population).

[-] 1 points by indianstudent (42) 2 years ago

Ah, there is it then. You don't really care about the working conditions, the only reason you are crying hoarse about it is because it takes away your jobs. So while you shed precious crocodile tears for the workers; it's all just greed cloaked in a blanket of altruism. As for US trade policy, it does not bat a eye lid to arm twist economies and urge them to open up their economies and embrace capitalism while enacting protectionist measures of it's own.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Well, the economic policies of other nations is their problem. Obviously, I'd hope that other nations would implement policies that favor their citizens and workers (and I don't believe that our success needs to come at the expense of others), but at the end of the day, the US government represents the American people (not the populations of India, China, etc.). If you guys are upset about the policies of your own governments, then you'll need to take that up with them.

[-] 1 points by indianstudent (42) 2 years ago

Oh yes we do take up our issues with our govt. But the thing is a small economy like ours does not have the muscle power to arm twist other countries like the US does. And yes our (or China's) success will come at the expense of Americans. There is only so much demand for goods and services and that demand does not change drastically in the short term. So when Indian or Chinese companies enter the market we inevitably eat into the market share of American/European firms. Think of it as redistributing prosperity on a global scale. Just as OWS supporters want the wealthy Americans to redistribute their wealth, it is time Americans learnt to share economic prosperity.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

This (zero sum) assumption is rejected by all mainstream economists. Nations like China can do plenty to increase its domestic demand, but it's deliberately manipulating its currency, which is suppressing domestic demand. So this unnatural distortion of the market is where the unevenness is occurring, and the US can influence change in this regard by shifting its own focus away from consumption, and towards production. In other words, from a macroeconomic perspective, the US should behave more like our trading partners, and they should behave more like the US (meeting somewhere in the middle).

[-] 1 points by indianstudent (42) 2 years ago

I never said it's zero sum but to assume that market demand would expand exactly (if not more) as much as these new economies (like India, China etc) can supply is baseless. And there is plenty of proof to support my claim- just look at how low level manufacturing, IT and business processing jobs have shifted to other countries. The opposite is also true. Indian car manufacturers have seen their market share dropped due to the entry of foreign manufacturers.

As for increasing consumption in China (or India) to near American levels, that is only possible when we have near American level income. When nearly 50% of India's population lives below the poverty line, you can't expect lot of consumerism going.

[-] 3 points by Builder (4202) 2 years ago

One product is mentioned as an example of how slave labour is proud of what they are doing.

Can't take you seriously any more. Sorry dude/ss.

[-] 1 points by shadz66 (19985) 2 years ago

"Bad Apple ? Why doesn't it employ more US workers ? - The electronics giant assembles its gadgets in China. But, according to new research, if it moved its production home, it would still be hugely profitable and create thousands of jobs", by Aditya Chakrabortty from The UK Guardian : http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/apr/23/bad-apple-employ-more-us-workers.

The above is an excellent article that touches upon the gist your comment as well as on the limited and blinkered perspective of this short-term profit loving ; 'jam today but shit tomorrow' forum-post.

fiat lux ...

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 2 years ago

china should put web cams in their factories

so all can see the shining example

[-] 3 points by shoozTroll (17632) 2 years ago

I have one question for the author and the poster.

What do you think working conditions are like in the factories that make the stuff that fills all the dollar stores?

This article is myopic, elitist reporting at it's absolute worst.

[Removed]

[-] 3 points by DemandTheGoodLifeDotCom (3213) from New York, NY 2 years ago

This article just confirms the complaints people have against Chinese working conditions. This author is clueless. He is completely ignorant of the study of working class struggle.

.

"The people who are making the accusations of “exploitation” have obviously never visited China...Chinese staff are generally very grateful for the work they are doing. They are all doing it by choice because it is the best opportunity they have to earn money"

He clearly does not understand the term exploitation. When you take advantage of the desperate conditions of the Chinese worker by offering them slave wages because YOU KNOW THEY DON'T HAVE ANY OTHER OPTIONS, you are exploiting them!

Factory workers should get paid the same as any other worker in China and I would argue they should get paid the same as any other worker in the world who works just as hard as them, including the US.

But since the factory owner knows they are desperate and have zero bargaining power, they pay them significantly less than everyone else. They are taking advantage of their desperation and paying them significantly less than what everyone else gets paid. THEY ARE EXPLOITING THEM.

.

"they also have their accommodation and most of their living expenses covered by the factories."

Their "accommodations" are the equivalent of a western jail. Google pics of it. They are just rooms with bunk beds stacked on top of each other and there is 1 public shower and bathroom per 300 people.

.

"workers earn enough for a very comfortable living...While the wages that the factory workers receive may seem low to a westerner, general living expenses in China are lower than the west."

This guy doesn't understand Purchase Power Parity. When comparing incomes, they take into account how much a dollar buys in the US compared to China. Factory workers earn just enough to keep themselves alive. After you factor in the difference between purchasing power, Chinese workers get paid slave wages like many in the US get paid.

.

"the manufacturing revolution in China has improved people’s lives, including workers’ lives."

Just because conditions are improving that doesn't mean it is ok to exploit people. This guy lacks basic common sense.

Conditions for slaves improved over time too. Slave conditions in the 19th century were a lot better than slave conditions in the 18th century. In fact, this was one argument people who were pro slavery used to keep slavery going. But improving conditions doesn't make slavery right.

If I raped women less over time, would I be allowed to rape?

.

"Before the 20th Century in the West, and even in many parts of the world today, most children were made to work. Why don’t we see children working in the West today, or even in developing economies like the Chinese industrial zones? It isn’t because of some government decree banning child labor, it’s due to economic growth and capitalism"

Child labor and the other forms of exploitation that are INHERENT IN CAPITALISM no exists in this country because workers organized and demanded better conditions which led to legislation to prevent that form of exploitation.

Capitalism didn't end exploitation of children!!! Labor organizing in the fight against capitalists ended the exploitation of children.

Exploitation is profitable. Exploiting children is even more profitable. Capitalists have every incentive to exploit as much as possible so they can earn as high a profit as possible. So capitalism will MAXIMIZE exploitation, not end it.

Gingrich recently proposed that we put children back to work. If labor remained as unorganized as they were in the 19th century and did not literally sacrifice their lives to demand better working conditions, and did not get all the labor legislation passed like ending child labor, labor today would be getting a much, much, much smaller share of the wealth they produce, they would be much poorer than they already are, and child labor would still be rampant.

.

"When a family survives on a dollar a day, they have no choice but to make their children work."

If labor got paid the full value of what they produce and got a fair share of the world's income, nobody would get paid a dollar per day.

.

"We also need to recognize that all countries go through a phase of industrial manufacturing during their development. This happened in England through the industrial revolution, and in the USA in the 19th century. We should not be trying to deprive the Chinese of increasing their prosperity through this significant and mandatory stage of development."

There is nothing about industrialization that requires anyone to exploit another.

Yes, before labor sacrificed their lives fighting to create better working conditions in the West, they were exploited as badly as Chinese workers are today.

So what this author is saying is that entrepreneurs in the West had the ability to exploit workers when they were developing, Chinese entrepreneurs should also get the chance to exploit their workers.

And unfortunately, this author's dumb, evil, uninformed, cruel thinking actually predominates our culture. But that is what you get with capitalism - a society of heartless idiots.

[-] 1 points by indianstudent (42) 2 years ago

I am sorry but you are seeing the world from your first world perspective. You see two extremes conditions - slave labor and the working conditions in US. There are many stages between these two extremes.

Sure it is desirable and needed that China and India have similar working conditions like those in US or Western Europe but understand that the economies and the prevailing conditions are vastly different.

While you complain of bad working conditions in China, USA actually had slave labor and working conditions in your own plants weren't always this good. Americans took their own sweet time to reach the stage it is today, why force it on us. In fact, we are reaching that stage faster than you guys.

Take my own country India. Not many years ago we were slammed for poor working conditions in factories of the suppliers for some western companies like Ikea etc. But now, the working conditions in the organized sector are far better and there have been no negative reports in western media. And all this happened in just a decade.

I remember the uproar over poor working conditions and child labor being used by Indian suppliers of Ikea back in early 90s. The western public and media wanted Ikea to suspend those suppliers with immediete effect if they did not comply with the necessary working conditions, which was of course the easier thing to do. Instead Ikea did the not so easy but right thing. They maintained those suppliers and set up schools for the kids who worked there and various other programs for the women workers. Overtime was allowed (because the workers wanted the extra money) but regulated. Inspections were increased and third party was hired to make regular inspections. That was the right thing to do.

Had the supplier been suspended, the children working there would not have automatically entered schools, instead they would have had to beg on the streets.

Same goes for Foxconn. Don't expect things to improve in a day. Things will improve gradually.

[-] 2 points by MachineShopHippie (216) from Louisville, KY 2 years ago

I went to China in 2006. Things are really bad there for the common people, and worse for women. The abuses of Foxconn are widely documented, from forced unpaid internships mandated by the government run universities, to having security guards beat their employees.

http://shanghaiist.com/2010/05/20/foxconn-security-guards-beating.php

Having gone to grad school with a majority Indian student population, and having had several honest late-night conversations with them about many things, I don't think you are even representing your own country correctly. I think your only really salient point was when you said,

"Not many years ago we were slammed for poor working conditions in factories of the suppliers for some western companies like Ikea etc. But now, the working conditions in the organized sector are far better and there have been no negative reports in western media. "

Yeah, all it took was a decade of the western media having other things to report on. Like ten years of war that doesn't involve India.

[-] -1 points by indianstudent (42) 2 years ago

If Foxconn is abusing workers they should be penalized severely but to insist that the only working conditions acceptable are those that are prevalent is US is wrong. There are various middle ground that one can be at for the moment and improve from there.

[-] 2 points by MachineShopHippie (216) from Louisville, KY 2 years ago

Agreed completely. One thing I noticed while I was in China was the amount of construction going on. High-rise buildings are being erected all over China. The workers are working on scaffolding that is several stories tall, made of bamboo. I probably saw 10,000 construction workers across China, and maybe 20 hard hats. Some of them were working in sandals and shorts with no vision or hearing protection. It's not a great working environment, but I don't expect a huge worker's rights revolution overnight (People's Republic - I see what you did there...).

This isn't about improper safety equipment. It's about slavery. It's about not being allowed to leave the place where you work, being forced to buy your meals from the place where you work for 1/4 of your day's pay, then buy your bunk that night for 1/2 your day's pay. It's about not having the freedom to quit because your government will make sure you never find another job and may arrest you or confiscate your property to set an example. It's about the security guards at your company being there to keep you working instead of to keep you safe.

This is modern slavery, complete with the whip holding Fields Overseer.

"Not only do the workers earn enough for a very comfortable living, they also have their accommodation and most of their living expenses covered by the factories. Which western world employer does this?"

-None, since we abolished slavery.

[-] 1 points by indianstudent (42) 2 years ago

Dude, similar things happen here in India too (scaffolding made of bamboo etc). It's not slaverly, just that this is a poorer country. Take for example the vehicle the Indian army uses to move snow. It's a shitty one which often breaks down and the driver is totally unprotected from the forces of nature while in the developed world such vehicles come with temperature controls and so many other things. Things are a little (if I may use the word) rickety around here. And that permeates at all levels of society. We drink water that would give the average American diarrhea and our trains are dirty and so on. Our fire figthers enter burning buildings without satefy gear covering their mouths with cloth and our soldiers often fight at high altitudes without proper clothing.

While I am no fan of the chinese I havent read any report that says their govt ensures that people who leave Foxconn cant find anotther job.

As for Foxconn providing it's employees with accomodation, this is quite common even in India. Lot of the people who work in factories are migrant labourers and the employer may choose to provice them accomodation so that they dont have to sleep in the streets.

[-] 1 points by gnomunny (6647) from St Louis, MO 2 years ago

You are a hypocrite. In the one sentence you say, " . . . why force it on us," an absurd statement in its own right, then follow it up by praising the improvements in working conditions because Ikea "did the not so easy but right thing." Something that wouldn't have happened had we Americans not bitched about it. Ridiculous.

[-] 1 points by indianstudent (42) 2 years ago

You Americans wanted Ikea to cancel the contract with the supplier. That would not have solved any problems, that's the ostrich syndrome. I am not saying you or us should not 'bitch' about it, all I am saying is the bitching should be constructive and your demands at least somewhat in the realm of practicality.

[-] 2 points by gnomunny (6647) from St Louis, MO 2 years ago

Yeah, cancel the contract or do the right thing. In case you don't realize it, no company would want a widespread boycott of their product. Of course they caved and did the right thing. Boycotts are one of the most effective tools the consumer has.

[-] 1 points by indianstudent (42) 2 years ago

Cancelling the contract will most adversely affect the workers at the supplier end. They would go jobless, be hungry and forced into begging etc. But hey, as long as you Americans can sleep peacefully in your cozy beds with the sound knowledge that your furniture is not contaminated by over worked or child labour, that should be fine. Lets just shove it under the carpet and pretend its clean, is it not?

[-] 2 points by gnomunny (6647) from St Louis, MO 2 years ago

Like I said, you're a hypocrite. Americans, for better or worse, helped improve conditions over there, but when we want to do the same in China, you claim we don't have the right to force it on them. I won't even get into how many tens of thousands of jobs you guys received when our brilliant leaders decided to off-shore call-centers and help lines to exploit your cheap fucking labor. Tell me, how many families lives were improved by that? Try to see the big picture, indianstudent, before you start running your mouth. There's at least two sides to every coin. Nothing is black or white.

[-] 1 points by indianstudent (42) 2 years ago

What you Americans tried to do was to attack the symptom and not the cause. Supplier employs child labor or does overtime, drop the supplier. You are simply attending to the symptom which is easy. The supplier would simply take up contract from another company that does not care about child labor or work hours. And life would go on. So much for doing away with child labor and over time. Now that's hypocrisy, American hypocrisy.

What Ikea did was commendable. They attacked the root cause. They set up schools to educate these kids and did not cancel the supplier. But that's too much to get into your thick skull.

As for off shoring call centers, your companies and not your leaders decided that because it made good economic sense and Americans who have espoused capitalism should be complaining about that. Or do you only subscribe to capitalism when it suits you and conveniently turn to protectionism when it doesn't. Talk of double standards, eh.

So get your facts right dude.

[-] 2 points by gnomunny (6647) from St Louis, MO 2 years ago

I stand by my opinion that you're a hypocrite based on your statement that it was great that American consumers demanded improved working conditions in your country but are wrong for 'forcing" it on China. By the way, Ikea is accused of using slave labor to supply its Asian partners with wood to build Ikea furniture (Google "Ikea slave labor"). So much for your shining example of corporate responsibility. Ikea only did the right thing in India because the American consumer demanded it.

Or perhaps I'm wrong for using my "biased" Western definition of slave labor to describe North Korean workers held against their will in Russian work camps hacking down trees for Ikea. Maybe I should lift my boycott of Ikea for this practice (nope). Or perhaps I should send a letter to Ikea CEO Ohlsson commending him for helping Kim's boy get those lazy North Koreans back to work. After all, Ikea's own founder was quoted as saying while he had no official knowledge of the use of prison labor, if it did indeed exist, "in the opinion of Ikea it would be in society's interest." Sounds like your kind of company.

By the way, anyone who thinks boycotts are a bad idea is a corporate tool, whether they realize their folly or not.

[-] 1 points by indianstudent (42) 2 years ago

you can stand by your opinion and I will stand by mine; this sure won't be the first time when 2 people arguing think they are right and the other side is wrong. And nowhere did I say that it is wrong in demanding better working conditions in China, all I said was you can't expect over night changes.

As for Ikea and it's track record of CSR, well I cited one example where they did they right thing. I am not, even for a second, suggesting that Ikea can never do wrong.

Also we are not talking about North Koreans here, we are talking about China and India. As for using prison labor, it can be in society's interest actually. In India, inmates of various prisons, a chief among them being the Tihar jail, earn money while in prison by working for the prison co-operative which makes and sells various food items, candles etc. The inmates can then use the money once their prison term ends and they are out of jail. Now that's in society's interest. However, NKorea which has a track record human rights abuses surely isnt doing it for society's interest.

I don't think boycotts are a bad idea and neither do I resort to silly hair brained generalizations like "anyone who think X is right is Y". However, excessive boycotts like what happens in certain Indian states is a bad idea. And FYI, the japanese had a different way of boycott; instead of not producing at all, they work over time and produce way more than necessary as a means of protest. Are you telling me, all Japanese are corporate tools?

[-] 1 points by DemandTheGoodLifeDotCom (3213) from New York, NY 2 years ago

All you did was just repeat all the same arguments made in the article! Did you even read my comment? I debunked all the arguments you are making and all the arguments made in the article.

When you pay workers less than what every other worker gets simply because the workers are so desperate that they would be willing to take the raw, unfair deal they are getting, YOU ARE EXPLOITING PEOPLE.

Exploitation IS WRONG.

It was wrong to exploit American workers back when America was developing. It is wrong to exploit American workers today. And it is wrong to exploit Indian and Chinese workers today.

ALL workers should ALWAYS get paid fairly. They should get paid the same amount of income as everyone else who works just as hard as them.

[-] -1 points by indianstudent (42) 2 years ago

No one is paying the workers less. They are getting a market determined rate and it is far better than anything they can earn on their own. Besides, both India and China have strong (and rather rowdy) labor unions so salaries are quite decent actually. They are being paid what everyone else gets in this country. Why should they be paid in american wages in dollars? It's a different country, different economy and different salary levels based on PPP

[-] 1 points by DemandTheGoodLifeDotCom (3213) from New York, NY 2 years ago

"No one is paying the workers less"

Income is not paid out equally in China or India!

.

They are getting a market determined rate and it is far better than anything they can earn on their own"

The goal of the market is exploitation! The goal of the employer is to pay you the least amount possible. If you have no bargaining power, and poor rural people in China have no bargaining power - they are desperate, the market will pay you a tiny fraction of what someone with bargaining power gets paid even though you may work just as hard as them.

.

"China have strong (and rather rowdy) labor unions so salaries are quite decent actually"

lol. Inequality is enormous in China so salaries are decent only for a small percentage of workers. And there is only 1 union for workers. It is run by the government and starting a competing union is illegal. So their union is a sham.

.

"Why should they be paid in american wages in dollars?"

It turns out the Chinese are just as human and have just as valuable a life as an American. They work just as hard as Americans and deserve just as much access to the world's resources and production.

Chinese workers are not as productive as American workers. But that is not their fault. They shouldn't be punished just because they weren't born into the right country. Americans should not be able to live a privileged life just because they were lucky enough to be born in a country that began industrializing a couple of centuries ago instead of a country that began industrializing a few decades ago.

So Americans should share in the cost required in getting the developed world up to par. That is what would happen if American workers got paid the same as Chinese workers. China would wind up getting paid a much larger share of the world GDP which would enable them to exponentially grow their productive capacity.

[-] 1 points by indianstudent (42) 2 years ago
  1. Wages in India in the organized sector are pretty standardized. Not much inequality there.

  2. In India, there are too many labour unions and they run their own fiefdoms often resorting to violence. Things were far worse back in the 70s and 80s and way too many factories used to get shut down because of worker strikes. See, I am not against labour unions and they serve an important purpose. But here, these unions have strong political connections and their actions are often detrimental to the companies.

  3. Costs in India/China are different from those in US, hence different salaries. Those are different economies, remember? The low level factory worker may be earning $25k a year in US, but in India $25k is a lot of money; thats the kind of salary Google or Microsoft pay it's new hires, not even many mamagers make those kind of salaries. But that is fine because, this is India, costs are different.

[-] 1 points by jph (2652) 2 years ago

"Ivory Tower Assault On Capitalism" LOL!!!!!!!!!!

Really? are you ef'n serious??? You post is idiotic, and your "source" is a tech fetish site for the privileged, so no conflict of interest there, eh.

[-] 1 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 2 years ago

Occupy Tampa showed up at an Apple store, I wasnt there for this one but here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRp8R_J-qxM

[-] 1 points by geo (2638) from Concord, NC 2 years ago

"We should not be trying to deprive the Chinese of increasing their prosperity through this significant and mandatory stage of development."

I see, Capitalist support wealth redistribution for foreigners through Free Trade, but despise and hate wealth redistribution at home. Why? They can make a profit from Free Trade.

Lets keep supporting the ant-ihuman rights, freedom stifling Chinese regime as long as we can make money from it.

[-] 1 points by indianstudent (42) 2 years ago

haven't Americans always done that? I can site a hell lot of examples from past and present- Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Guatemala, Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq .. the list is endless. And that's not really such a bad thing. Countries care for their own well being over others, paying lip service to morality and ethics once in a while.

[-] 1 points by geo (2638) from Concord, NC 2 years ago

Yes Americans have always done that and its time to stop. In this case the Americans who are doing this have no love for fellow Americans nor their country, they are just making cash for themselves.

[-] 1 points by indianstudent (42) 2 years ago

So you mean to say the systematic squashing of human rights is fine as long as

  1. It's not done to your own countrymen
  2. It's is conveniently disguised as patriotism.

And here i thought you guys hated Republicans and did not subscribe to their views.

[-] 1 points by geo (2638) from Concord, NC 2 years ago

My first line that I posted: 'Yes Americans have always done that and its time to stop.'

It shouldn't be done to anybody, that includes my own countrymen.

[-] 1 points by indianstudent (42) 2 years ago

If it really is time to stop you might wanna first look at some other nations which are friendly to you and where such human rights abuses are rampant and far worse than anything Foxconn can even dream of.

[-] 2 points by geo (2638) from Concord, NC 2 years ago

The easiest and quickest way to make change in this arena would be to implement Fair Trade over Free Trade.

[-] 1 points by indianstudent (42) 2 years ago

every country has a diff view on what is 'fair'

[-] 1 points by geo (2638) from Concord, NC 2 years ago

What is fair is what will make pricing competitive in the current local marketplace... not drastically undercutting local prices, resulting in outsourcing and job eliminations.

It's pretty simple.

[-] 1 points by indianstudent (42) 2 years ago

prices are different in different countries. It's a fact of life. As an Indian, I would love nothing more than to buy a Dodge Viper but then it's price is very high because it's made in USA. Is it ok if I asked Americans to sell me that car at a price that is 'competitive in the current local market' like say $30k instead of the $90k+ at which it is sold in US? Forget cars, how about life saving drugs? Is it ok to demand US pharma companies to sell drugs here at a fraction of that US/Europe price because those prices are not 'competitive in the current local market'?

Our prices are different, hence our call centres and IT companies charge a fraction of what an American company would.

[-] 1 points by geo (2638) from Concord, NC 2 years ago

A Dodge Viper is expensive no matter where you are. If India made the equivalent to a Dodge Viper, less expensive, and imported it into this country, I would expect a tariff to be in place to make the price comparable to the domestic car.

Your country can make your own rules as you see fit.

[-] 1 points by Misaki (893) 2 years ago

The problem with Foxconn's factories was the same as with any other system that uses overtime: people were encouraged to work too much.

Their most sumptuous day is the 10th each month -- pay day. That day, all the ATMs and themed restaurants are packed with long lines, and consequently the ATMs are often drawn empty. The salary's made up of the ¥900 ($132) local minimum wage and the variable overtime pay.

Each employee would sign a "voluntary overtime affidavit," in order to waive the 36-hour legal limit on your monthly overtime hours. This isn't a bad thing, though, as many workers think that only factories that offer more overtime are "good factories," because "without overtime, you can hardly make a living." For the workers desperate for making money, overtime is like "a pain that can breathe:" without it, the days without money make them "suffocate;" with it, the restless work would only add more "pain" to the body, thus aging quicker. Most of the time they staunchly choose the latter, but even the right to choose such isn't available to all. Only those with the seniors' "trust," with good connections, or those in key positions, can often get to work overtime.

Foxconn could reduce complaints about its working conditions by reversing the system so that workers are paid at a higher rate for lower hours spent working.

[-] 1 points by factsrfun (6812) from Phoenix, AZ 2 years ago

" the factory owners, managers and assembly line staff"

I think these people may be happy with how things are going, but there are questions of how should the system be set up to maximize benefit?

Is it in the best benefit for all, for the Americans to pay a quarter less for a trash can?

There really is no reason, other than lack of will, that we cannot have nice things and not break the planet or abuse each other.

[-] 0 points by DownwithObama (0) from Jersey City, NJ 2 years ago

Wow....nice to see censorship is alive and well at OWS!

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 2 years ago

nah, just monkey's complaining about censorship

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