a glimpse behind the consumer glitz

Worth listening to this clip (4 mins and mid way down the page) from Reuters journalist Kelvin Soh on the Foxconn factory in Taiwan where Apple iphones and other products for Dell and HP are made.

Imagine working in a factory of over 400,000 people. Food, sleeping quarters, leisure facilities, shops are all provided. Shifts of 10 hrs on the assembly line and not allowed to speak at all.

There have been 10 suicides at the plant which is why it is in the news. Management have put nets around the building to catch jumpers.

Now in a self-contained ‘town’ of nearly half a million that might be near societal norms? Most workers are delighted to have a job and the conditions apparently are far superior to brutal conditions in many factories in mainland China. Maybe so.

But the story is a rare glimpse behind the glitz of the consumer dream: into a world of military style working regimes designed to maximise efficient use of low-cost (and replaceable) ‘human resources’.

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