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Off topic: Pathology of low working rates (China)
Thread poster: Lingua 5B

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 00:17
English to Croatian
+ ...
Dec 10, 2011

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1382396/Workers-Chinese-Apple-factories-forced-sign-pledges-commit-suicide.html


Here is a very sad article; I am not quite sure whether and how much we can trust this source, however, it's certainly something to ponder about.

I can't count the times when I spent my money on something labeled "made in China" and soon it ended up in my garbage becoming totally useless. It's my money, so I keep feeling like someone is joking with me as a consumer. Looking at the story in the article, I can't keep but wondering how can an unhappy, miserable person produce excellent work results? It just goes against basic laws of physics. Not only do those large companies are now moving their production to China en masse, but they obviously also use cheap bad quality materials not caring about their reputation any more, at all.

How can we protect ourselves as consumers, is there a way around it at all? And second, are the people from the article responsible for what's happening to them, or is it all and only someone else's responsibility? Obviously, if they once accepted bad working conditions and low rates, it can go only lower coming to the point we can see in the article.


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:17
Hebrew to English
Hmm...... Dec 10, 2011

It is indeed a sad article, however, I would take anything in the Daily Mail with more than one pinch of salt.

On a related note, a ProZ job posting in my language pair today sure made me want to kill myself:

"$0.03 USD to $0.033 USD per word
Payment 20 days after date of invoice."

If that's not suicide-inducing slave labour, I don't know what is, what's worse, there's already 2 quotes submitted.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 07:17
Chinese to English
More media puff than anything else Dec 11, 2011

Just to repeat what I said recently in another thread - things aren't as bad in these Chinese factories as the figures make them seem. In general, working in a factory (particularly a prestigious one like Foxconn) is a step up, and the wages, though low, are a enough to make a big difference in the life of a family only a couple of steps away from subsistence farming.

The media furore surrounding the Foxconn suicides was just that - a media furore. It's far from clear that there was ever anything wrong at Foxconn. They just had a run of bad luck, and the media jumped on them because they're well-known. They actually provide much much better working conditions than most Chinese companies (Foxconn are Taiwanese-owned), and the media focus on poor conditions there is in part a strategy to deflect attention from poor conditions in Chinese factories (including state-owned factories).


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Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:17
English to Japanese
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Similar Article in The Observer Dec 11, 2011

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/04/chinese-toy-factories-christmas-disney

At least we're lucky that we're not deducted 5 Pounds for going to the bathroom without telling our clients...


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Kaspars Melkis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:17
Member (2005)
English to Latvian
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Is life in China getting better or worse? Dec 11, 2011

I believe that life in China is hard for majority and much worse than in developed countries. But it also shows a clear trend of improving in most areas. They should keep up with economic development but also not forget that national solidarity not wealth is what makes citizens happy.

China is doing surprisingly well economically. It's purchase parity per capita is >$8,000. I was surprised to learn that it is more than in Ukraine (only $6,600).


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Maria Stella Translator (BR-PT)
Brazil
Local time: 21:17
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Not news to me Dec 11, 2011

Lingua 5B wrote:


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1382396/Workers-Chinese-Apple-factories-forced-sign-pledges-commit-suicide.html


Here is a very sad article; I am not quite sure whether and how much we can trust this source, however, it's certainly something to ponder about.

I can't count the times when I spent my money on something labeled "made in China" and soon it ended up in my garbage becoming totally useless. It's my money, so I keep feeling like someone is joking with me as a consumer. Looking at the story in the article, I can't keep but wondering how can an unhappy, miserable person produce excellent work results? It just goes against basic laws of physics. Not only do those large companies are now moving their production to China en masse, but they obviously also use cheap bad quality materials not caring about their reputation any more, at all.

How can we protect ourselves as consumers, is there a way around it at all? And second, are the people from the article responsible for what's happening to them, or is it all and only someone else's responsibility? Obviously, if they once accepted bad working conditions and low rates, it can go only lower coming to the point we can see in the article.



This is not a new story, ever since the XIX Century people have been discussing some dirty issues about Developing Capitalism. Do I believe people are unhappy, get depressed because they do not earn enough money to live well? Yes, it is a fact. No work at all is even worse. As a consumer, try to spend less money on clothes and products that are not essencial. In China the production of clothes and artifacts such as IT low quality things, are the major ... I don't believe translation gets even close to the "slave" like work ... Industrial manufacturing is the spot when it comes to do with exploitation of work. Do they use translation to export their products? Yes they do ... but it is not even close to the exploitation of work on plants and factories.
Major players on this issue: Fashion Industry, Cell phones Industry, Toys Industry in case of China. And I can see fashion industry is the greatest player ever since the XIX Century. I've came across studies on capitalism from that time talking about this same industry, clothes since Industrial Revolution. Others would be mining industry, oil, metallurgy ... that create the machines used in the plants. Some of it changed since the XIX Century, but it is still happening in places where laws regulating work are weak.
I would say, try to consume products that are manufactured in your own country even if they are expensive, compared to products coming from Industries that exploit human work. Information about the company, about where the things you consume come from is essencial.

[Edited at 2011-12-11 21:06 GMT]


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 00:17
English to Croatian
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TOPIC STARTER
To Stella Dec 11, 2011

Just to refer to the expensive/inexpensive thing.

Where exactly did I say that the bad quality made in China items, that I bought, were cheap? I don't really know how much you follow trends, the products I bought are from well known expensive brands, and all are labeled "made in China". And they weren't even close to cheap. Naturally, it soon ended in my garbage. Alternative is nonexisting, more or less it's all made in China now.

They are only cheap to factory owners, they don't really end up cheap to me, as a consumer. I don't mind paying a lot for a quality item at all, but not for trash.

I agree about the item information, but these days they are using all sorts of tricks from avoiding to even name the country of origin, to faking some other country. And we know which country it is in both cases.

[Edited at 2011-12-11 22:53 GMT]


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Maria Stella Translator (BR-PT)
Brazil
Local time: 21:17
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Expensive/Inexpensive Dec 11, 2011

Lingua 5B wrote:

Just to refer to the expensive/inexpensive thing.

Where exactly did I say that the bad quality made in China items, that I bought, were cheap? I don't really know how much you follow trends, the products I bought are from well known expensive brands, and all are labeled "made in China". And they weren't even close to cheap. Naturally, it soon ended in my garbage. Alternative is nonexisting, more or less it's all made in China now.

They are only cheap to factory owners, they don't really end up cheap to me, as a consumer. I don't mind paying a lot for a quality item at all, but not for trash.

I agree about the item information, but these days they are using all sorts of tricks from avoiding to even name the country of origin, to faking some other country. And we know which country it is in both cases.

[Edited at 2011-12-11 22:53 GMT]


In fact, you are right ... their products are not cheap. As a citizen I try not to buy them so I don't really know the cost, truly ... I don't feel good about using those products after knowing where they come from, I mean all the exploitation and stuff ...


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 00:17
English to Croatian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes but.. Dec 12, 2011

.. I have told you, sometime they will avoid adding the country of origin, or will put some other, say European country instead. You can't really know truly where they came from in such case. Of course I'll avoid them at all costs but if I'm presented with 95% of such products on the market, can you offer me an alternative?

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Maria Stella Translator (BR-PT)
Brazil
Local time: 21:17
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Small businesses Dec 12, 2011

Lingua 5B wrote:


.. I have told you, sometime they will avoid adding the country of origin, or will put some other, say European country instead. You can't really know truly where they came from in such case. Of course I'll avoid them at all costs but if I'm presented with 95% of such products on the market, can you offer me an alternative?


I know this is may not valid for all products we consume today, but you may start by giving preference to small businesses in your own country. I don't want to preach to anyone a life style ... please don't get me wrong!
Today there are ways to label products as "environmentally" safe, there are seals or labels from regulatory government (or non-governamental) agencies for quality control too, in case of Brazil I know there are. This is subject of a great controversy though ... we all have to develop our own ways to scape this net, if wanted! It is a very individual way to go through because it takes some time until you get used to consume less, check everything ... but you can acknowledge that if the product is manufactured in Europe this plant or business has an address, and can be identified.
At least here, they put the country of origin in every product. But I think I can not tell the names of brands that I really don't buy anything from here, such as sneakers for example ... believe it or not I don't have a cell phone either, I have a phone ... I know people with 4 cell phones and planning to buy others to replace it next year. This is just one example.
I do use a car, actually I would prefer not to, but the public transportation system in my city lacks a lot of structure nowadays ... I believe this is going to change in the future ... less cars, less consumption as we develop towards a greater understanding about respecting Nature and other Citizens in the world.
Edited to say: I mean, do we really believe that we have a better life now because we can consume more products?

[Edited at 2011-12-12 02:17 GMT]


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Maria Stella Translator (BR-PT)
Brazil
Local time: 21:17
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Bad luck? Dec 12, 2011

Phil Hand wrote:

Just to repeat what I said recently in another thread - things aren't as bad in these Chinese factories as the figures make them seem. In general, working in a factory (particularly a prestigious one like Foxconn) is a step up, and the wages, though low, are a enough to make a big difference in the life of a family only a couple of steps away from subsistence farming.

The media furore surrounding the Foxconn suicides was just that - a media furore. It's far from clear that there was ever anything wrong at Foxconn. They just had a run of bad luck, and the media jumped on them because they're well-known. They actually provide much much better working conditions than most Chinese companies (Foxconn are Taiwanese-owned), and the media focus on poor conditions there is in part a strategy to deflect attention from poor conditions in Chinese factories (including state-owned factories).


I just wonder since when in human history is suicide "a bad luck" thing ...


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:17
Hebrew to English
It's bad luck for the company... Dec 12, 2011

Stella(Brazil) wrote:

Phil Hand wrote:

Just to repeat what I said recently in another thread - things aren't as bad in these Chinese factories as the figures make them seem. In general, working in a factory (particularly a prestigious one like Foxconn) is a step up, and the wages, though low, are a enough to make a big difference in the life of a family only a couple of steps away from subsistence farming.

The media furore surrounding the Foxconn suicides was just that - a media furore. It's far from clear that there was ever anything wrong at Foxconn. They just had a run of bad luck, and the media jumped on them because they're well-known. They actually provide much much better working conditions than most Chinese companies (Foxconn are Taiwanese-owned), and the media focus on poor conditions there is in part a strategy to deflect attention from poor conditions in Chinese factories (including state-owned factories).


I just wonder since when in human history is suicide "a bad luck" thing ...


As heartless as that sounds, it's true. The suicides may not have had anything to do with their working conditions or the factory in question (as Phil suggests). The fact that several of their employees committed suicide is just bad luck for the company's image.

I'm also wondering just how many people they employ and how the number of people who committed suicide compares to this (as a %).

I wonder how many microsoft employees committed suicide, how many McDonald's employees.... basically what I'm trying to say is that a spate of suicides isn't necessarily a damning indictment of the company.

After some research, I found this (extremely) detailed account:
http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/02/ff_joelinchina/all/1

That 17 people have committed suicide at Foxconn is a tragedy. But in fact, the suicide rate at Foxconn’s Shenzhen plant remains below national averages for both rural and urban China, a bleak but unassailable fact that does much to exonerate the conditions at Foxconn and absolutely nothing to bring those 17 people back.


Out of a million people, 17 suicides isn’t much—indeed, American college students kill themselves at four times that rate.


It sheds far more insight than the Daily Mail article (no surprise there). The bigger tragedy here is rubbish journalism sensationalizing unfortunate souls' suicides and implying links to "sweatshop" conditions that have little basis in reality but suit western stereotypes of China down to the ground.


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 00:17
English to Croatian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Reality? Dec 12, 2011

This is why I mentioned the products I bought, that are made in China, that fact is very realistic. It also very realistically wasted my money down the drain, many times, there is nothing fictional there.

I can't track Daily Mail sources of writing, but I can keep track of what's happening in my own life, hence my examples.


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Maria Stella Translator (BR-PT)
Brazil
Local time: 21:17
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Sentionalizing Dec 12, 2011

Ty Kendall wrote:

Stella(Brazil) wrote:

Phil Hand wrote:

Just to repeat what I said recently in another thread - things aren't as bad in these Chinese factories as the figures make them seem. In general, working in a factory (particularly a prestigious one like Foxconn) is a step up, and the wages, though low, are a enough to make a big difference in the life of a family only a couple of steps away from subsistence farming.

The media furore surrounding the Foxconn suicides was just that - a media furore. It's far from clear that there was ever anything wrong at Foxconn. They just had a run of bad luck, and the media jumped on them because they're well-known. They actually provide much much better working conditions than most Chinese companies (Foxconn are Taiwanese-owned), and the media focus on poor conditions there is in part a strategy to deflect attention from poor conditions in Chinese factories (including state-owned factories).


I just wonder since when in human history is suicide "a bad luck" thing ...


As heartless as that sounds, it's true. The suicides may not have had anything to do with their working conditions or the factory in question (as Phil suggests). The fact that several of their employees committed suicide is just bad luck for the company's image.

I'm also wondering just how many people they employ and how the number of people who committed suicide compares to this (as a %).

I wonder how many microsoft employees committed suicide, how many McDonald's employees.... basically what I'm trying to say is that a spate of suicides isn't necessarily a damning indictment of the company.

After some research, I found this (extremely) detailed account:
http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/02/ff_joelinchina/all/1

That 17 people have committed suicide at Foxconn is a tragedy. But in fact, the suicide rate at Foxconn’s Shenzhen plant remains below national averages for both rural and urban China, a bleak but unassailable fact that does much to exonerate the conditions at Foxconn and absolutely nothing to bring those 17 people back.


Out of a million people, 17 suicides isn’t much—indeed, American college students kill themselves at four times that rate.


It sheds far more insight than the Daily Mail article (no surprise there). The bigger tragedy here is rubbish journalism sensationalizing unfortunate souls' suicides and implying links to "sweatshop" conditions that have little basis in reality but suit western stereotypes of China down to the ground.


There is no basis for this type of so called "statistics", what you name "stereotypes" of western civilization I call history (we know exploitation of work very well from our history). Not a fairy tail, maybe we should all put this into the Normality Scale ... mass suicide, murders, exploitation, corruption ... etc ... and turn all our western historically acquired values in the trash ... to consume more toys and clothes in a peace of mind!


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Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:17
Member
English to Hungarian
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Whose utopia Dec 12, 2011

About two years ago I saw a beautiful film in the Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao, "Whose utopia" by Cao Fei showing the working conditions and dreams of some people working in an Osram factory in China. Some of the parts can be watched on Youtube, but if you have a chance to see the whole, go for it, it is well worth.

Best,
Attila


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