This week NPR's This American Life is entirely about Mike Daisey's research on Foxconn, one of Apple's main suppliers. Foxconn also supplies Nokia, Dell, Nintendo, Sony, etc. He reports on the the work conditions in China. Cramped quarters, repetitive motion injuries, child labour, unpaid over-hours,... We knew it, but do we care about it enough to make a change and challenge corporate misbehavior?
Daisey wrote on 'the dark side of Apple' in his book 'The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs'. Last year, Foxconn hit the headlines when workers committed suicide. Apple now says it's not being supplied by Foxconn anymore, but they don't name who their suppliers are. Daisey says Apple, a company that cares about every detail should know about the abuse, but Apple just didn't care enough. But it's not only Apple and its supplying companies who are to blame. The official Chinese unions, Western consumers,... throughout the whole consumer and production ecosystem people know about the poor labor conditions, people see it but perhaps they don't care enough.
There is some hopeful news though, wages in the areas that were visited by Daisey are rising. After media attention, some corporation are improving conditions for workers. This also highlights the role of the media, as a force that can pressure corporations to act more responsible.