Do you use an iPod, or iPhone? Have you ever gotten a Dell? How about Motorola or Nokia?
If so, you’re probably contributing, perhaps inadvertently, to the vicious labor cycle inherent in Asian electronic supply chains — a notoriously secretive industry awash in alleged human rights violations, a free-market exercise, endorsed by some of the world’s largest corporations, which blurs the lines of human slavery.
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It works like this: Big-name electronics companies — in the pursuit of maximizing profits — outsource parts production to the Far East, where murky bureaucracies and corporate secrecy obscure manufacturing realities. Tech firms secure rock-bottom prices; Western consumers benefit with inexpensive gadgets; and everyone goes home happy.
Except, that is, for those factory workers, low-wage laborers forced to work obscene hours, under dire conditions, often with no hope of escape.
Internet news source Global Post sent a team to the Far East to produce a series called “Silicon Sweatshops: Shattered Dreams.” The series highlights the problem that develops when desperate workers are willing to do anything to eat — and so-called brokers are more than willing to exploit that need.
However, Global Post reports that the companies they probed are far from the only ones involved, and that executives were aware of the issue.
“We heard sincere commitments to deal with these issues by frustrated executives who struggle with these complex economic realities,” Global Post reported.