It seems that it is almost a common theme whenever an American calls a major company, they joke around about someone in India picking up. The jokes do not stop there though, they usually branch out to not understanding the receptionist and more often than not a mocking of their language. It is almost more common to have someone on the other end who is speaking broken English than it is to have a clear conversations. The constant, “huh,” “I do not understand what you’re saying,” and deep sighs to deal with anger often times lead to the bad reviews in customer service. We as Americans, will complain about this issue on a daily basis, but at the end of the day, having these workers helps us.
The scenario given is an example of a company outsourcing. Outsourcing is when a company moves abroad for cheaper labor, and two of the most popular companies are Apple and Nike. The word seems to always have a negative connotation to it, but in majority of cases, it is a positive. Outsourcing allows for companies mainly in the US to find cheaper labor, so the needs of the global population are met when new products are released. The cheaper labor gives those in the foreign countries jobs, so they have an income and a means of living, while the users of the product do not have to spend outrageous money, unless you’ve recently bought the iPhone X or a Nike tech sweatshirt.
Issues arise when dealing with labor, and how poorly these big companies treat these foreign workers. In a Tech Insider video released on YouTube in 2017, a man by the name of Dejian Zeng who is an NYU graduate, spent six weeks working in an Apple factory in Shanghai. He describes the work as boring, as he would spend a 12-hour work day doing one job of screwing one screw that connected the speaker to the iPhone. They would only make about $450 a month or $5,400 a year and had only Sunday’s off. Workers are provided with one uniform, have to go to mass amounts of security, all while being shacked up with as many as eight other workers in a dorm room. Working conditions like this is what leads to uproar. People around the globe protest large companies like Apple because harsh conditions like explained. Things have gotten so out of hand, they had to put safety nets outside the buildings and on stairs so workers would not commit suicide. (See Figure A below)
Similar to that of Apple, Nike is one of the other large companies that was under heat for their sweatshops and the complaints of poor working conditions along with code of conduct issues. In the early 1990’s is when Nike first started the “sweatshop” movement when they moved their shops from Korea and Taiwan. The company moved to lower wage countries in Asia like China, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Around this time is when the protests of the company started. In the year 1991, activist Jeffery Ballinger wrote an article entitled “Nike’s profits jump on the back of Asian workers” that essentially outlined the horrors that were going on in the company. The article is highlighted by an Indonesian worker who makes “14 cents an hour, which is well below the minimum wage on top of being abused by management.” Ballinger releasing his finding was the just beginning of what Nike had to deal with. Protests by college students around the world, protests against NBA superstar Michael Jordan, and probably most famously at the 1992 Olympic games. Profit faltered, over the next few years. Nike was forced to lay off homegrown workers and they then realized that a changed needed to occur.
Over time, the company began to turn the tide and began to be the profitable company they used to be. Max Nisen, of the Business Insider, wrote in an article about Nike’s solution to sweatshop situation. Thanks to Ballinger and his findings, he explains: “Nike begins creating the Fair Labor Association, a non-profit group that combines companies, and human rights and labor representatives to establish independent monitoring and a code of conduct, including a minimum age and a 60-hour work week, and pushes other brands to join. The creation of lead human rights activists and others protesting to see the effort that the company.” This was the first of the several major steps, however the company admits to continuing the actual work being done.
Nike and Apple were definitely not the first companies to use sweatshops and certain will not be the last. The issue constant being brought up is the fact that these big companies are basically using modern-day slaves. Low wages in these lesser countries, and selling at a decent price is what helps these companies thrive. Consumers have the knowledge, but only so much will be done due to the status and satisfaction we gain from products Apple and Nike create.