Thursday, April 15, 2010

China's Sweatshops Produce Gadgets and Profits for Others


Self satisfied "progressives" of the green dieoff left might be chagrined to know how much of their lifestyle depends upon sweatshops in China.
Yesterday, the National Labor Committee produced a report on the working conditions at the KYE Factory in Dongguan City, Guangdong, China. KYE operates (like many factories in China) a live-work facility and generated sales of $400 million in 2008. KYE manufactures outsourced products for HP, Best Buy, Samsung, Foxconn, Acer, Logitech, and ASUS. Their largest customer, however, is reportedly Microsoft.

...KYE recruits hundreds-even up to 1,000-"work study students" 16 and 17 years of age, who work 15-hour shifts, six and seven days a week. In 2007 and 2008, dozens of the work study students were reported to be just 14 and 15 years old. A typical shift is from 7:45 a.m. to 10:55 p.m.
Along with the work study students-most of whom stay at the factory three months, though some remain six months or longer-KYE prefers to hire women 18 to 25 years of age, since they are easier to discipline and control.

Workers are paid 65 cents an hour, which falls to a take-home wage of 52 cents after deductions for factory food.

Workers are prohibited from talking, listening to music or using the bathroom during working hours. As punishment, workers who make mistakes are made to clean the bathrooms.

Fourteen workers share each primitive dorm room, sleeping on narrow double-level bunk beds. To "shower," workers fetch hot water in a small plastic bucket to take a sponge bath. Workers describe factory food as awful.

Workers can only leave the "compound" during regulated hours.

One worker is quoted as saying they are "like prisoners." The report also says that the disgruntled workers usually blame the factory itself, and don't make the connection between the companies -- whose products they are manufacturing -- and their horrible work conditions. _Engadget

What's most worrying isn't just that one factory is treating its workers this way, it's that in all likelihood, there are many factories treating their workers this way, which won't end up the subject of an extensive report by a human rights organization.

Horror stories from Foxconn are nothing new, and bear a striking resemblance to what we're hearing about KYE. It's clear that manufacturers can get away with stuff like this in China, and it's just as clear that major electronics companies find it easy to either ignore, or remain blissfully ignorant of, what's going on in the factories they use to build their hardware. And if we know this—and honestly, we do—we're as complicit as they are. _Gizmodo

Of course, anyone paying attention must know that the lowest price goods come from China for a reason. The reason is all the corners that can be cut. The necessary bribes to officials are not usually that expensive, either.

Now that everyone knows what conditions are like for so many workers in China, watch to see who is willing to pay more for their gadget, or accept a somewhat smaller return on an investment -- in order to have a peaceful conscience. It is likely that virtually all progressive dieoff leftists who buy Chinese goods or invest in companies that are in China, will simply turn a blind eye to the problem. Or what is worse, they will make a loud noise, knowing that it will signify and achieve nothing.

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