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[liberationtech] Silicon Sweatshops (fwd)

Todd Davies davies at
Tue Dec 1 11:25:55 PST 2009

Hi, James,

I don't have time to write a full response to your message, and there are 
others on this list who have worked on labor conditions and supply chains 
more than I have. One thing I'd say, though, is that I am wondering if you 
have read the full article. You write:

> I would far prefer it if articles like this 
> chose actual labor abuses, rather than pointing to things that sound horrible 
> to the average American, but which are in fact the norm for most of the 
> world.

But the article talks about violations of rights and regulations that we 
take for granted in this country, and that also, incidentally, apply to 
the workers in question. It's not *just* about low wages, long work hours, 
and low job security that workers, in your view, are "choosing". The 
argument that workers *choose* to work in sweatshops, and besides, they 
have *no alternatives*, is always an eye-popper, by the way.

Here's an excerpt from the article we are discussing:

>>> For Taiwanese workers, routine violations of Apple and industry codes
>>> of conduct on work hours, days off, overtime, worker complaint
>>> mechanisms and the right to organize; For Chinese workers, violations
>>> of a major electronic industry group's code of conduct on all of the
>>> above, and allegations of under-aged labor; For Filipina migrant
>>> workers, "placement fees" far in excess of Taiwan regulations, with
>>> fees and deductions amounting to nearly a full year's salary ? a
>>> "core" violation of Apple's code.
>>> These allegations, which are documented throughout this series, are by
>>> no means limited to this one supplier. Taiwan's labor broker system
>>> applies to many Southeast Asians who come to work on the island. And
>>> labor rights groups have done numerous studies of the scope of the
>>> problem.

Do these not count as "actual labor abuses"?


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