There is a great story this week on This American Life (OK, they’re great every week) called Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory regarding working conditions at the Foxconn plant in Shenzhen, China. Mike Daisey, the man behind the story, tells a pretty balanced tale and Ira Glass and crew are diligent about fact checking Daisey’s story which is clearly designed to entertain as much as enlighten.
One very interesting piece of information that comes out of this story is how much of what we use in terms of consumer electronics is handmade. Shocking, is the fact that, despite Apple’s (and I would hope many other companies such as Dell and HP) best efforts, 13 and 14 year old children are working on the lines in these plants.
This story is also interesting in light of what is going on at Foxconn this week. Workers for an unnamed company staged a protest over wages and were threatening to jump off the roof of one of the Foxconn plant buildings.
What is notable to me is how often we are beginning to see things like this coming from China. It has been 23 years since Tiananmen Square and, while these protests are no moral match for the protests of 23 years ago, it appears that the Chinese government is less inclined to “quiet” the revolution with mass murder. At least I hope that’s the case.