iPhone 5: De kinesiske arbejdere

I går kom Apple med den nye iPhone 5. Telefonen skal som de fleste af de andre apperater fra Apple laves på de enorme Foxconn fabrikker i Kina, der har hundredtusinder af arbejdere, som også samler telefoner og anden elektronik for eksempelvis Samsung, Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft Xbox og Nokia.

Det er fabrikker, hvor der tit er problemer med arbejdsforholdene. Som der er i mange andre af de kinesiske fabrikker, der pumper varer ud til forbrug i Europa og USA. Se på dine sko. De er sikkert syet af en pige, der får fem kroner i timen. Og din iPad er måske samlet af en af de cirka 20 arbejdere, der har begået selvmord på fabrikkerne.

Ifølge China Labor Watch er det Foxconns fabrik i Zhengzhou, der skal samle iPhone 5. Her får arbejderne en grundløn på cirka 2.000 kroner om måneden for op til ti timers arbejde om dagen. Som en af dem fortæller ifølge CLW:

We are now producing the iPhone 5. We 87 workers have to assemble 3,000 phones per day, and as our team leader told us, after the new iPhone goes public, we will need to assemble 6,500 phones per day. We are now working more than 10 hours a day. There are many student workers in our production line, all of whom are around 18 years old. They’ve been complaining and demanding to go back to school but are never allowed.

Der er kort sagt god grund som vesterlænding til at få dårlig samvittighed over de mange ting, der er Made in China. Men som Leslie Chang – der er forfatter til den glimrende bog “Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China” – skrev i New Yorker for nogle måneder siden, så er fortællingen om forbrug vs. kinesisk lidelse letforståelig men virkeligheden mere kompliceret.

It’s also inaccurate and disrespectful. We must be peculiarly self-obsessed to imagine we have the power to drive tens of millions of people on the other side of the world to migrate and suffer in terrible ways. China produces goods for markets all over the world, including for its own consumers, thanks to low costs, a large and educated workforce, and a flexible manufacturing system that responds rapidly to market demands. To imagine that we have willed this universe into being is simply solipsistic. It is also demeaning to the workers. We are not at the center of this story—we are minor players in theirs. By focussing on ourselves and our gadgets, we have reduced the human beings at the other end to invisibility, as tiny and interchangeable as the parts of a mobile phone.

Chinese workers are not forced into factories because of our insatiable desire for iPods. They choose to leave their farming villages for the city in order to earn money, to learn new skills, to improve themselves, and to see the world. And they are forever changed by the experience. In the latest debate over factory conditions, what’s been missing are the voices of the workers. Here are a few:

Bao Yongxiu: My mother tells me to come home and get married. But if I marry now before I have fully developed myself, I can only marry an ordinary worker. So I’m not in a rush.

Xiao Jin: Now after I get off work I study English, because in the future our customers won’t be only Chinese. So we need to learn more languages.

Leslie Chang har også lige holdt et foredrag på TED, som du kan se herover. Eller på TED’s hjemmeside, hvor du også kan læse mere om baggrunden og møde de to arbejdere, som hun taler om i foredraget.

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