The Arising Issue
Quickly gaining traction and publicity around the world, the topic of Chinese factory work always lights a few fires. With companies such as Foxconn and Apple’s Factories using cheap labor to pump out their various goods, a lot needs to be changed. With little regulation, these types of products are mass produced at an alarmingly fast rate, and to achieve such speed of production and affordability for the company, employing cheap labor is the only way to do it.
While there is nothing wrong with factory work in general, issues arise when we look at the conditions that some of these factory workers are facing. Poor conditions afflicting Chinese companies, are not the same everywhere. Many businesses are very modern and humane. Exploitation does exist though. It’s very unfortunate and quite sad, just knowing people go through this, but it is the cold hard truth. Factory conditions are often worse than what we can imagine. Hopefully, this article can shed some light on this controversial issue. It’s a dark topic, but it is an important one and one that is well worth talking about and discussing.
Is your job really that bad?
If you have a job, no doubt it isn’t perfect. The boss might be a bit controlling, and your co-workers may slack off all the time. Maybe your salary is lower than what you deserve. Maybe there is no chance of promotion. Whatever the case is, no job is perfect, however, some are far more flawed than others. It’s more than likely okay to talk freely at your job. Chances are you can take a smoke or lunch break if you need one, or use the bathroom whenever as well. If you become ill, the company you work for will have some sort of sick day policy. But the conditions a Chinese factory worker face are often much more dire.
With many factory jobs, employees are forced to live at the plant. Sleeping in the dorms, yet spending all their waking hours at the working mill, they take a shuttle together to work practically as soon as they wake. These circumstances don’t just burden a specific sub-culture either. Workers range from adults to students to children paying off their school fees, or sending money back to their families. Some of these workers are forced to go through this pregnant.
Those things sound rather harsh, don’t they? They are harsh, in fact, rather inhumane if you ask us. What kind of conditions are we talking about here? What kind of job would treat their employees so poorly, without regard to their humanity? The conditions we just described are often the day-to-day reality for Chinese factory workers.
The Average Day
Days here begin with a meeting that lasts around 20 minutes to go over the day’s quota of how much needs to get produced. Following these introductory meetings, the work begins.
At these factories, an average work day lasts around 12 hours, with a few, short breaks scattered here and there. Certain facilities only allow for 90 minutes break time, which includes not just bathroom breaks, but also all your meals throughout the day and any socializing or relaxing you wish to do. While a factory worker goes about his day, he is not allowed to talk whatsoever. Often water and other drinks aren’t allowed at the workstation, and the use of cell phones and other personal devices are almost always forbidden.
Believe it or not, the harsh rules don’t stop with your work. Also closely watched is your interaction with your co-workers. You are not allowed to reveal how much you make, gossiping is forbidden, and the managers dictate what they think is gossiping. You cannot strike and no guests are allowed at any time.
The rules here are incredibly strict, and supervisors at these factories tend to enforce these standards ruthlessly and demeaningly. Employees are frequently yelled at and scolded for asking to use the bathroom out of their designated bathroom time. Additionally, if the supervisors hear any talking, they often become extremely aggressive and have been known to dock the whole workforce a day’s pay. While these may sound like drastic and foreign measures that shouldn’t be allowed to take place, they are all very real and occur each and every day at these factories.
Why do they still exist?
Factories are cheap and affordable ways for companies, like Apple, to get their products produced on a vast and inexpensive scale. The companies provide other companies with goods at a low price, and the factory can employ a wide variety of people, as the line of work doesn’t require any specialized knowledge or training.
These jobs wouldn’t be awful on their own, but the surrounding conditions plaguing them are simply horrifying in many cases. While the life of a Chinese factory worker is a brutal way to make a living, often there are no alternatives despite being completely undesirable. It’s a hard and dark life to lead, but unfortunately, it’s the only life that some people out there can lead at all.
These jobs don’t require any form of formal education, so they are very easy to obtain and secure. However, Chinese factory worker wages aren’t worth this kind of abuse. In fact, I can’t think of any job, no matter how much it paid, that would be worth being treated like this. So even though your job may be hugely flawed, try to take a moment to think about what a Chinese factory worker is currently going through.
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