Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The real Foxconn

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Again via Scott Feldstein’s blog, this interesting story by Tim Culpan in the Bloomberg Tech Blog:

So Mike Daisey’s been outed. The things he said he saw, he didn’t. The people he said he spoke to, he didn’t. The discoveries he said he made, he didn’t. He lied.

It matters a lot that Mike Daisey lied, and it matters that he was caught. You really should listen to the episode of This American Life in which Ira Glass takes a deep breath and lets it all out. It’s great storytelling by Rob Schmitz, as fantastic as the story Daisey himself told. Anyone who has become invested in this story of Apple and Foxconn needs to listen to that episode. If you’ve ever tweeted about how bad Apple is, blogged about the evils of Foxconn’s sweatshops, or “Liked” a Facebook post excoriating how iPads are made, then you should listen. Don’t take the word of the dozens of bloggers and news outlets who’ve tried to summarize the whole saga into bite-sized morsels—go listen for yourself. Go on, do it now. I’ll wait. You heard it? Good.

Now let me tell you what I’ve seen at Foxconn. I’ve covered the company as a reporter for more than a decade, since before the iPhone was a twinkle in Steve Jobs’s eye and just after Foxconn landed Dell as a PC customer. Then in 2010, when a series of suicides caught the world’s attention and made sure you now know who makes your iPhone, my colleague Frederik Balfour and I started looking deeper. The result was “Inside Foxconn,” a 6,000-plus-word cover story for Bloomberg Businessweek.

We interviewed Foxconn’s founder Terry Gou for many hours. But before sitting down with Gou (and walking the Shenzhen campus with him), we spoke to dozens of people who worked at, dealt with, supplied to, bought from, or otherwise had firsthand dealings with Foxconn and its founder. Foxconn doesn’t know who most of these people are, and they never asked. We also had a Foxconn-led tour inside dorm rooms, the pool, the cafeterias, and a factory line. We knew very well they were trying to show their best side. We smiled and nodded and did our own research anyway.

Among those we spoke to were about two dozen workers, mostly factory personnel, who spoke without supervisors present and spoke freely. Again, Foxconn doesn’t know who we spoke with, and they never asked.Mike Daisey claimed to have come across 12-year-old workers, armed guards, crippled factory operators. We saw none of that. And we did try to find them. Nothing would have been more compelling for us and our story than to have a chat with a preteen factory operator about how she enjoyed (or not) working 12-hour shifts making iPads. We didn’t get such an anecdote.

In our reporting, as “Inside Foxconn” detailed, we found a group of workers who have complaints, but complaints not starkly different from those of workers in any other company. The biggest gripe, which surprised us somewhat, is that they don’t get enough overtime. They wanted to work more, to get more money.

Less than a year later, I went back again with another colleague. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 March 2012 at 9:25 am

Posted in Business

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