Thursday, June 15, 2006

Chinese iPod Factories are Sweatshops? No Sh*t Sherlock.

A couple of days ago, a few Mac sites were reporting the 'shocking' revelation that conditions in a factories that make iPods in China are substandard. I had to laugh at the shock and indignation at MacSheep on forums for the blogs reporting this, as well as the reaction from the news sites themselves. How naive ARE these people?

The abuses that go on in such factories are not funny at all, however. But the sad truth is that this crap goes on nearly everywhere in Chinese factories. Westerners have this image of a modern vibrant China with a booming economy that's bringing the masses out of poverty. But the truth is, more than 90% of the population in China are essentially indentured laborers or peasants that aren't enjoying the fruits of the economic boom. Just because they WILL work long hours for peanuts doesn't make it right.

And all the international and US companies doing manufacturing there have similar situations in their factories. Labor isn't the only issue - pollution that's having international implications is also a problem. The fact is that you and I contribute to this, as consumers of tech that are predominantly manufactured there.

MacWorld (UK) is reporting that Apple is looking into this situation, and wants to ensure human rights of factory employees are respected.

From my perspective, I can't see why Apple expects factories to respect human rights of its employees, when China itself does not respect the human rights of its citizens.

And don't give me this crap about respecting "cultural differences" in defining human rights, that Apple legal-beagles can hide under. That's just newspeak for "we ignore abuses of people in totalitarian states".

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