Up Close and Personal
Mike Daisey, who makes his living performing monologues on stage, is a self-confessed technology devotee, ‘an Apple aficionado’, ‘a worshipper in the cult of Mac’ – for 15 years or more a total Apple geek. Then one day he says he ‘started to think, and that’s always a problem for any religion, the moment when you begin to think.’ He decided he had to find out for himself what was actually going on within the Apple empire so he assumed the guise of a journalist and set off for Shenzhen, now China’s third largest city with a population of 14 million but just a small town thirty years ago. This is where Foxconn has a massive complex making electronics for Apple, Dell, Nokia, Panasonic, Sony and Samsung.
This is the facility infamous for the netting stretched around the outside of the buildings to thwart suicide attempts. Daisey found a place outside one of the gates away from the many security guards and with the help of a translator interviewed workers who queued up to talk to him, some only 12, 13 or 14 years of age and legally too young to be employed. He learned of the no talking rule on the assembly line, of the supposedly officially enforced eight hour shifts actually being 12 and often 16 hours, of the concrete box 12 foot by 12 foot dormitories with up to 15 beds, of the cameras on the assembly line, in the rooms, in the corridors, everywhere. And everything hand assembled because it’s cheaper than installing expensive high tech assembly equipment.
For more detail on Mike Daisey’s experiences in China researching Apple listen to or read ‘This American Life’ (http://tinyurl.com/8aypq8a).