×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Behind the Scenes With Samsung's Factory Workers

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the sunshine-and-unicorns dept.

China 307

itwbennett writes "The young women working at Samsung's factory in Tianjin, China like their jobs about as much as factory workers anywhere. The work is boring and tiring, but it pays ok and there are perks (like air conditioning in the dorms), says 19-year-old Zhao Caixia. One 23-year-old woman, who assembles 200-300 camera lenses a day, told the IDG News Service's Michael Kan: 'You just keep doing the same thing over and over. There is nothing really to like, but nothing to really dislike either.' Labor rights group China Labor Watch tells a different story (PDF). One day after Samsung said it would audit its suppliers in China, the group reported cases of excessive overtime (exceeding 100 hours per month) and exhausting working conditions, with employees being made to stand for up to 12 hours for a single shift."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

307 comments

frist (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231391)

I was a Samsung factory worker till I took an arrow to the knee

Re:frist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231567)

Samsung is Korean, not Indian, you foolish cowboy.

I might be out of scope here (4, Insightful)

dyingtolive (1393037) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231423)

But I'm pretty sure that when I lived in crapsack podunk land as a teenager, I had stood for 12 hours in a single shift working at the shithole state fair cleaning barns for not much more than minimum wage.

Re:I might be out of scope here (3, Insightful)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231455)

even in my company 12 hour shifts are common, in the hearland of the USA ... boo who for the Asians?

Re:I might be out of scope here (4, Insightful)

formfeed (703859) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231519)

even in my company 12 hour shifts are common, in the hearland of the USA ... boo who for the Asians?

At least you had the chance to vote for politicians that kill unions, defund OSHA, and turn the US into a third world country.

Inverse Democracy (1)

mug funky (910186) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231647)

i wish inverse democracy worked - in the sense that the act of voting determines the quality of the candidates, where in forward democracy the quality of the candidate determines the act of voting.

we could dream up a head of state that didn't suck!

Re:Inverse Democracy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41232247)

i wish inverse democracy worked - in the sense that the act of voting determines the quality of the candidates

It does, if you don't vote for the lesser evil. It is when people start talking about "strategic voting" instead of voting what you actually believe in regardless of outcome that the democracy goes to hell.
A vote for something you don't believe in is worse than not voting at all.

Re:I might be out of scope here (5, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231613)

even in my company 12 hour shifts are common, in the hearland of the USA ... boo who for the Asians?

I worked construction for a few summers after high school -- 12 hour shifts weren't uncommon (on my feet the whole time), and I took all the overtime I could get, sometimes putting in 80 hours or more of overtime a month (six 10 hour days/week), If I didn't have to drive up to 90 minutes each way to the job site on the other side of the state, I probably would have put in more overtime. When I was lucky, I'd get to drive an escort vehicle for a wide-load truck on my way to or from the job site so I'd rack up a couple hours of work while driving to work).

It was hard work, but I still found time to party with friends on the weekends, and the work paid most of my first two years of college.

Re:I might be out of scope here (4, Insightful)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231745)

even in my company 12 hour shifts are common, in the hearland of the USA ... boo who for the Asians?

I worked construction for a few summers after high school -- 12 hour shifts weren't uncommon (on my feet the whole time), and I took all the overtime I could get, sometimes putting in 80 hours or more of overtime a month (six 10 hour days/week), If I didn't have to drive up to 90 minutes each way to the job site on the other side of the state, I probably would have put in more overtime. When I was lucky, I'd get to drive an escort vehicle for a wide-load truck on my way to or from the job site so I'd rack up a couple hours of work while driving to work).

It was hard work, but I still found time to party with friends on the weekends, and the work paid most of my first two years of college.

Two things: (1) this was more or less your choice, and you were rewarded for it with bonus pay to boot. Even if your employer had made it clear at certain times they needed everyone to put in some overtime, you would've had to be paid for it at least.

(2) you were in high school. You can do a lot of really over the top physical feats while in high school, and it's easy. It's a very different thing to being a whole career, and different again to the sort of advancement opportunities you had.

Re:I might be out of scope here (5, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#41232133)

Two things: (1) this was more or less your choice, and you were rewarded for it with bonus pay to boot. Even if your employer had made it clear at certain times they needed everyone to put in some overtime, you would've had to be paid for it at least.

It was my choice in that if I didn't work there, I would have had a minimum wage job at McDonalds - with overtime hours at the construction job, I ended up getting paid over 5 times more than I would have made at McDonalds.

So, I had a choice, but the other choice was less desirable. Sort of a like a chinese factory worker deciding between a hard life on the farm or a hard life (but more comfortable) in the factory.

(2) you were in high school. You can do a lot of really over the top physical feats while in high school, and it's easy. It's a very different thing to being a whole career, and different again to the sort of advancement opportunities you had.

I was 18 - 20 when I worked that job - not much different in age than the 19 and 23 year olds quoted in the summary.

If someone chooses building camera lenses on an assembly line as a career, there's more than Samsung to blame.

I'm not saying that working conditions in China are cushy, but saying that 12 hours/day and 25 hours of overtime/week is worker abuse ignores the fact that there are a lot of people in "developed" countries that work those same hours. If they are not getting compensated for that work, have unsafe conditions, don't have adequate breaks, etc, then that's different, but long hours don't automatically equate to worker abuse.

Are you sure? (1, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231945)

I worked construction for a few summers after high school -- 12 hour shifts weren't uncommon (on my feet the whole time)

Come again, buddy??
 
I worked in construction sites every summer during my college years, for I desperately needed money to pay for books and food and shelter
 
From scaffolding to steel framing high rises, never did I have to be on my feet for the entire 12 hour shift
 
Which job were you in, buddy?

Re:Are you sure? (4, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231987)

I worked construction for a few summers after high school -- 12 hour shifts weren't uncommon (on my feet the whole time)

Come again, buddy??

I worked in construction sites every summer during my college years, for I desperately needed money to pay for books and food and shelter

From scaffolding to steel framing high rises, never did I have to be on my feet for the entire 12 hour shift

Which job were you in, buddy?

I worked for a heavy construction company, primarily doing road construction - doing things like shoveling asphalt that fell out of the paver, raking down stone to level it, pressure washing mud off the heavy equipment before loading it for transport to another job site, directing trucks to dump their load where it was needed, subbing in for flagman when needed, etc. About the only time I got to sit down was when I had to drive to pick up parts or, when I was lucky, get a cushy job escorting heavy/wide loads.

Re:I might be out of scope here (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year and a half ago | (#41232245)

sometimes putting in 80 hours or more of overtime a month (six 10 hour days/week)

It's understandable your brain would be a bit fried after that.

Common (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231621)

I came here just to say this. At one factory where I worked 12 hour days seven days a week with three days off was the normal schedule. They made armored military vehicles for the US Army, so most of the time people were walking around for parts or welding in odd positions.

The trucking fleet worked the legal maximum to save money: 14 hours a day six days a week.

Equipment costs more than the people that run them, so the equipment keeps going whether the workers are fatigued or not.

Re:Common (0)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231845)

At one factory where I worked 12 hour days seven days a week with three days off was the normal schedule.

Wait, you worked seven days a week with three days off? Is that metric time?

Re:I might be out of scope here (4, Insightful)

dyingtolive (1393037) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231653)

My work experience now is somewhat different. For being with a company where I directly support stock market traders, the atmosphere is entirely laid back. I'm salaried, but if I work more than eight hours a day (which is usually out of personal interest in what I'm doing) I typically have my boss or someone nagging me to go home. I actually spend some time working on an urgent issue over a weekend a couple weeks ago of my own volition, and when I told my boss that Monday, he became really concerned that I had to put in some extra time (i.e. what broke and is it still broke), and then told me to feel free to take off however much I needed to make it back up to myself. I found out later I got put in for some "above and beyond" recognition thing for giving enough of a damn to make sure that stuff isn't falling apart around me.

We all talk doom and gloom, but at the end of the day, it's really not completely impossible to find a company that will actually hesitate before immediately and always treating their workers like shit. Of course, having that been said, I've had completely opposite experiences at other (and much shorter lived) jobs.

Re:I might be out of scope here (4, Informative)

drhank1980 (1225872) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231763)

I work in the USA for a company that makes chips for Samsung amongst others. Our normal shift is 12 hours on your feet in the fab. (on a compressed schedule, 4 days on 3 days off and then 3 days on and 4 days off, and yes I know China is doing 6/7 days a week as the norm but I also know the quality can/will suffer as we are still cheaper than our outsourced competition for their lack of quality and consistency on a cost per good die metric). Its great money for those of us who work it and many of us sign up for overtime on our days off.

Also more to the point of the article, if you are doing inspections for 12 hours in a row on anything complex, you will suck as an inspector and I would hope Samsung would not accept this as a practice in China (or anywhere for that matter) for the interest of QA for their products but maybe I am asking too much.

Re:I might be out of scope here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231767)

Yeah. On the other hand, you're allowed to have children if you want, vote, use the Internet, etc.

The Chinese workers likely think, "well, it's shitloads better than farming rice and sleeping in the heat with no running water."

Re:I might be out of scope here (1)

jago25_98 (566531) | about a year and a half ago | (#41232205)

I've done a few jobs not far off this too. I lasted 8 weeks which was longer than the 22 people before me who left before first break. I guess the difference is that there are whole cities like this over there.

when I left and got a better job I realised I could have held out for a better job and/or used benefit or family resources to invest in training. such was my single mindedness in always wanting to be employed I never thought to exercise this possibility.

I wonder if these people are as stuck in a rut as I was, seemingly unable to climb out of the situation without funds and options. or whether there are other possibilities such as selling on eBay

Re:I might be out of scope here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41232231)

Okay smartass. No chair for you. No internet breaks. No restroom break until your designated lunch break. Just stand and do your job.

Now, are you still okay with that as a software factory worker? Keep in mind, if you are okay with factory work conditions, you are okay with those working conditions to be arranged for you.

Re:I might be out of scope here (3, Insightful)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231759)

Sure it's that, but you're doing the same five second repetitive job over and over and over for twelve hours straight. While standing.

Sound lame already?

Kay, now envision yourself in that job for 65 - 70 hours a week. You earn $125 per week with all of that overtime. Seem illegal? It is, the maximum amount of overtime per month is 36 hours. But never-mind knowing what your contract says or trying to fight this, you never got a contract. And boy does your boss breath down your neck, and he gets real personal with insults too, calling you a lazy fat slacker and says he hopes you hurt yourself. Want to complain to his boss? Can't, there's no way of putting in complaints.

And what if you do hurt yourself, you have medical insurance that you've been paying like $100 for. Except you don't have your medical insurance card, they never gave you one.

---

Humans really haven't seem to evolved much past slavery, since business owners are trying the best they can to get as close as they can. And sure, everyone and their brother says slavery is wicked and evil, even those crooked business owners. But if you were to allow slavery, you would be surprised at the number of people that would turn back on their words.

I simply must say, capitalism really does bring out the worst in people.

Re:I might be out of scope here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231893)

Then move out of the capitalist, I mean *COMMUNIST* country, you live in. UR obviously Chinese.

Re:I might be out of scope here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41232189)

Can we just print all China bashing articles real, fake, past, present and future once and get over it forever?

Re:I might be out of scope here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41232235)

not much more than minimum wage.

I worked 13 hour shifts 5 days a week in machine shop, cutting parts on a mill. Skyway Precision, Redford MI. Around 1991. No OSHA in that place. Couple of ex cons though.

Fortunately I wasn't stupid enough to do it for minimum wage. :)

oh the humanity (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231435)

uhhh, wut? 100 hours per month? where do i sign up for THAT?

also "audit its suppliers in china" basically means "if every single person doesnt make the cut then you and everyone you work with will have to be fired and you have to try to find another job"

Re:oh the humanity (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231625)

I think that's 100 hours of overtime. I don't know what is considered a full time non-overtime week in China. In America, 100 hours of overtime/month would mean 75 hour workweeks.

Re:oh the humanity (1)

sortadan (786274) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231703)

wonder if they get time and a half. if only they worked for apple with 180hrs over time right now working on the new iDevices (http://chinalaborwatch.org/news/new-415.html)

also, using "wut" in a thread titled "oh the humanity" ... sigh.

Re:oh the humanity (2)

TrancePhreak (576593) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231829)

Nobody came to my help when I worked 80 hours a week for five months straight.

Re:oh the humanity (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231911)

That's because 80 hour weeks is only 10 8 hour days.

Per week : )

yea but (4, Insightful)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231443)

what do you expect?

its a factory assembly job with very low entry requirements, just like everywhere else, you do your thing, all day every day, for a modest pay that can support your family if your not living beyond your means.

surprise!

now if we can get Americans to accept that "detailing cars" is not a 50$ an hour job maybe we can regain our strength

Re:yea but (1)

Haawkeye (2680377) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231497)

That is the same in Canada as well. I think it is the younger generation. For some reason they think they are owed something! They are owed a kick in the ass!

Re:yea but (3, Funny)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231551)

oh I know, I saw a story on 60 minutes, where "some guy" couldnt afford his frankly lavish house in california cause he lost his 40$ an hour car detailing job. 10 years older than I, I couldnt do anything but be boggled at how someone with an high school education doing a job that damn near any teenager does EVERY Saturday can sit in front of national TV and shed a tear.

Re:yea but (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231579)

Do they have lawns in Canada, that people may be told to get off them?

Re:yea but (4, Funny)

mug funky (910186) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231669)

NO! this is just the attitude that has destroyed the western work ethic!

instead of telling them to get off our lawn, we should ask them to mow it.

Re:yea but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231751)

Maybe tell them that the lawn is too big to fail and that they will have to spend the rest of their lives working for less $$$ per hour than you did to bail out your lawn before they can get a lawn of their own.

Or maybe tell them that you used up all the cream-of-the-crop lawns and they can work for that shitty little patch with the pollution and the weeds and crumbling infrastructure (after they pay for your retirement, of course).

Seriously. Who screwed up the world? The adults or the children? Who is going to have to live with the consequences of the current generations actions?

Re:yea but (1)

mug funky (910186) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231661)

that's cause our generation and the one before it spent a hefty amount of time telling them how great they are...

Re:yea but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231721)

Baby Boomers are the ones who should get a kick in the ass. If I go to college and bust my ass getting a $50,000 engineering degree I damn well better have a job I can get to repay those student loans.

if you're any good, you will have a job (1, Insightful)

Chirs (87576) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231755)

I know a lot of people who got the engineering degree because they thought it would pay well, not because they were suited to it or found it at all interesting. They were generally not very good.

Re:yea but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231531)

Aye aye, like my favourite campaign ad from a few years back of the labor union fatty standing next to his $75K super-truck complaining that he can't make it since he lost his factory job pushing a button 8 hours a day for $50.00/hour. How about you start by buying a smaller truck?

You know, 100+ hours of overtime a month isn't that much. I work in public safety and there's many a month gone by where I've put in more than 100+ hours of overtime.

Somebody call the wahmbulance.

Re:yea but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231559)

crab mentality.

Re:yea but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231569)

average mentality

Re:yea but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231597)

Wow - You get it for cheap - $50 an hour detailing car

Re:yea but (3, Insightful)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231655)

I worked on an assembly line in the USA building solid state motor control devices (for 240v loads up to 19000 volt motors, like rock crushers). We took two 15 minutes breaks, and a 30min break for lunch. When we worked 12 hour days we took another 15min break and another 30min off for dinner. We weren't standing on our feet for longer than a few hours at a time. We also were cross trained in different areas so that we didn't have to do the same repetitious task over and over again (so we didn't ruin our hands). Eventually I was cross trained on every part of the lines from cutting holes for displays in enclosures, to painting them, using the programming the CNC machine, mounting parts, wiring and even testing them.

When another area was too slow or short staffed we could put more folks on that line. There were less problems between divisions than at other companies where everyone was stuck on the same area (even those places had a variety of different tasks for each worker). Folks who knew the whole place could take a prototype from start to finish and document the assembly process to go with the engineering schematics), eventually such people become a managers with desk jobs who actually understood how things work.

There's no reason to have folks doing the exact same repetitive task day in day out for years, ruining them. We need to make more stuff in the USA. I used to prefer to spend a little more on products with the "Made in the USA" logo because I knew the workers weren't being used up and thrown away, like they do in China. Nowadays I don't buy things with that proud USA logo anymore, but only because they don't exist.

If we can't get them to manufacture things in the USA, then we need to get the foreign plants to increase their workers rights. Maybe we impose a tariff? I don't know what the answer is. Folks with morals don't have choices anymore. I make money developing software for the devices, so I have to buy them wherever they're made. What's your fucking excuse?

What strength? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231663)

The real problem is that nothing outside of management or legal is a $50/hr job anymore.

Why should an employer pay you to code when some guy in India that got the same degree as you, at the same school as you, paid for by Indian government programs is willing to work for 25k a year with no benefits?

I make over 100/hr as a software developer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231771)

Not management, not legal. I do have ~13 yrs experience in embedded linux software, mostly in telecom stuff.

The jobs are out there, if you have the right skill set.

What do we expect? Quite a lot now. (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231743)

what do you expect? Its a factory assembly job with very low entry requirements

Should we not expect regular inspections paid for by Samsung?

Should we not expect wage increases for the workers working on Samsung products, subsidized by Samsung?

Should we not expect Samsung demand reduced working hours of workers assembling Samsung gear?

Should we not expect Samsung issue a supplier responsibility statement [apple.com] with regular reports on progress - even if not believed at least something to hold them to?

All of these are things Apple has done with FoxConn. So it seems pretty obvious that since so many have carefully poured over Apple's actions in this regard, that it is the new standard for what we should expect for companies assembling things in China. We owe the Chinese workers at least that level of effort to make things better.

Re:What do we expect? Quite a lot now. (2)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231855)

Should we not expect ... XYZ... paid for by Samsung?

All of these are things Apple has done with FoxConn.

If Samsung would do the same, won't it risk suits of... ripping off what Apple did?

</grin>

Re:What do we expect? Quite a lot now. (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231863)

Yes, would you mind if they copied Apple for an altruistic reason for once?

Re:What do we expect? Quite a lot now. (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231935)

Yes, would you mind if they copied Apple for an altruistic reason for once?

What?!? This is an attack to free market, freedom and other high values in someone's constitution! That's commie think!!

</very_large_grin> (warning: if you continue down this path, I'll feel compelled to issue a whooosh! ticket)

Re:What do we expect? Quite a lot now. (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231989)

Yes, I got the joke just fine thanks... My own response was a lot less serious before Slashdot commenting ate my own sarcastic closing tag because I forgot to add /code...

Re:What do we expect? Quite a lot now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41232091)

Most people don't expect these things. If you do then you should contact Samsung; if you disagree with their supplier's labor policies then you shouldn't buy Samsung products (and presumably, their supplier as well).

We don't "owe" the Chinese workers anything, they are paid for their services. They might be more or less happy when manufacturing jobs are outsourced to cheaper markets such as India and Africa, however.

Re:yea but (0)

rastilin (752802) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231797)

So your saying that the best way to regain America's strength is to drop working conditions to match India, that's the best way to make life better for Americans? Have I misjudged the argument, tell me if I've misinterpreted you.

Re:yea but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41232075)

Or perhaps the GP is saying Americans should "lower their income expectations when performing unskilled labor."

Re:yea but (2)

rastilin (752802) | about a year and a half ago | (#41232221)

Why? For one thing, how are people supposed to "work their way through uni" except by unskilled labor? Lowering minimum wage just means that people who are born poor will find it harder and harder to work their way out. It's not like American unskilled labor doesn't get paid terrible wages already compared to any other first world country.

Obama/Romney debate (1)

silentbluejay (2721217) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231453)

Mitt quickly took the stage with a ferocious six-step that transformed into a full flare which rocked the debate audience, shouting "Oh shit" egging Romney into yet more extreme power moves. But Romney's forehead overbalanced it and Barack quickly took control of the stage, grabbing the mic and delivering a scathing burst of rhetoric about how "bitches ain't nothin' but tricks and hoes."

Under intense pressure to deliver, and still reeling from his misstep earlier, Romney fumbled again when the passed the mic, tripping on some whack shit about "hip-hop and you don't stop" from like fucking 1980. Obama wasted no time grabbin' the mic, talking mad shit about Romney and his crew:

"Yo, Ryan's a little bitch! I think he be a snitch. I leave that nigger dead and stinkin', face down in a ditch", Barack spat to the cries of the cheering crowd.

Romney, unable to fuck with him lyrically, headed up the tables where he began to switch up the beat to some wicked fast dirty south shit, hoping to trip Barack up. But Obama came with it, dropping blistering bombs iller than the quran. "Yo fuck Iraq. Those niggers is white. I gonna take their oil and bitches and get my paper stacked. Yo fuck Iran. And fuck your faggot drama. Bitch, you only building nukes because I fuck yo baby mama"

Then Biden rolled up to the joint on spinners with a fat trunk of North Cackalacka dank.

Wait... (5, Funny)

tooyoung (853621) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231489)

Why would we care about working conditions at a non-Apple factory?

Re:Wait... (4, Insightful)

tooyoung (853621) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231515)

Ah, I can answer my own question - Samsung makes some parts for Apple. I see what you're doing. Those slimy bastards.

Re:Wait... (2)

mug funky (910186) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231683)

I suspect it's an attempt to counter the sudden rash of negative op-eds that Apple has been subject to since the iPhone 5 launch date came and went.

Before anyone says it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231505)

Before we get +5 insightful threads claiming the US doesn't do manufacturing, let's read the following very carefully folks:

"As of 2012, the country remains the world's largest manufacturer, representing a fifth of the global manufacturing output"

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manufacturing_in_the_United_States [wikipedia.org]

Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231525)

So let me get this straight...first we complain that all of the manufacturing jobs left the country (They took our JARBS!) and now we complain about how sad it is these people have to do boring, repetitive work in the factory. Well DUH! That's the nature of the work. These guys were willing to do these crappy jobs and put up with more abuse for even less pay than we were. That's why those jobs left the country in the first place.

*ring ring* -- It's the cluephone and it's for you.

Looks like patent infringement to me (4, Funny)

bhcompy (1877290) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231539)

I mean, Apple invented near slave labor conditions in China to build iProducts. Pretty sure Apple should take them to court for infringing on the "method of using Chinese for slave labor to build electronic devices while also increasing the suicide rate" patent

Apple (0)

Compaqt (1758360) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231587)

Lol. Seriously, though, I'll bet you some rounded rectangles that Apple's behind this story one way or another.

It's all out war for Apple, including psy-ops. So, of course, they'd need to balance out all that "Apple's sweatshops" articles with equivalent articles for Samsung.

Re:Apple (4, Funny)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231641)

The real reason for the rounded corners: So workers can't slash their wrists with an iPad.

Re:Looks like patent infringement to me (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231591)

Pretty sure slave labor in China predates the iPhone.

Re:Looks like patent infringement to me (0)

bhcompy (1877290) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231605)

So you're telling me Apple didn't invent the MP3 player or the smartphone?

Re:Looks like patent infringement to me (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231881)

I mean, Apple invented near slave labor conditions in China to build iProducts. Pretty sure Apple should take them to court for infringing on the "method of using Chinese for slave labor to build electronic devices while also increasing the suicide rate" patent

Dam'd if Samsung does it, dam'd if it doesn't.

You see, Apple was also the first to look into the working conditions and do something to improve them; highly likely they also patented this as well.
I'd say Samsung is better not to do anything about it: it will infringe on only one Apple's patent instead of two (additionally to whatever benefits slave labor already provides).

Re:Looks like patent infringement to me (1)

peppepz (1311345) | about a year and a half ago | (#41232021)

You see, Apple was also the first to look into the working conditions and do something to improve them;

No, they started doing "something" only after the bad press that they got for the horrible working conditions they took advantage of for years (and the bad press they got was just a fraction of what they deserved - we even had reparatory articles here on slashdot, such as "can you really build anything without exploiting slavery?"). What they were doing before that, was building spaceship - shaped campuses for their american employees while their chinese ones worked in exploding factories.

funny... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231573)

After working in the food industry for the last decade, 12 hour days on your feet seems just about right, they even get air conditioning! Most cooks/chefs would give a digit for that.

Re:funny... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231901)

...12 hour days on your feet seems just about right, they even get air conditioning! Most cooks/chefs would give a digit for that.

You sure didn't want to say "give a finger for that"?

Thanks Samsung (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231615)

for letting me know that the brand new Galaxy S3 I just got is assembled by the tiny hands of young Chinese females. It gives me a lovely extra kick when watching redtube on it.

Wait a sec... (2)

epp_b (944299) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231623)

Is it just me or does "assembling camera lenses" (among other things) sound like something that could be mechanized? I mean, it's not like the lens needs to be different from phone to phone and I'm sure the same could be said for many other parts.

I'm not trying to say that these people should be put out of a job, but wouldn't it be better if some of them could have a lot more job satisfaction from better, more interesting work, with real responsibilities, where they are more than just assembly monkeys? ...and then use that to build a better economic system for themselves where a lot more people can have more rewarding careers?

Re:Wait a sec... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231665)

The same reason that, say, the ancient greeks never had vending machines all over the place (despite inventing one which worked on the penny-in-slot technique), or invented the reciprocating steam engine (despite knowing about the use of steam power, which they used for a revolving door): cheap people are cheaper than developing the technology to eliminate the people.

The same sort of problem is why you often see two men with signs instead of portable traffic lights when there are roadworks. It costs less to pay two men to stand there doing sod all than it does to buy a machine to replace them.

Re:Wait a sec... (1)

ppanon (16583) | about a year and a half ago | (#41232013)

I suspect it's not so much the machine as sourcing the power to run the lights. It might be better now that you can use LEDs with a lower power drain rather than back when you had to use incandescents. The other thing is that you wouldn't need just traffic lights, you would also need cameras so that people are aware that if they speed through the construction zone and somebody gets hurt as a result, that there will be a record of which car sped through.

You could probably get an electrician to pull the power out of the streets lighting, but then you would need to pay rates for a skill tradesman for a good chunk of a day, plus transit between sites if he moved between sites in an area to maximize use of his time. You would also need to have the electrician disconnect the equipment at night for it to be put away so that it wouldn't be stolen or so that some idiot passerby doesn't electrocute themselves and sue the city/county/contractor. When conditions/road space allow, you get two trucks with those large moving bulb/LED arrrows that are powered by large solar panels and truck batteries. In the peak summer construction season, it's probably just cheaper to pay the lowest wage you can get away with for two people with signs rather than buy some extra trucks that would sit idle for 4/5 of the year. You can find something else for those sign carriers to do during the winter, or they can go back to school.

Alternatives (3, Insightful)

humanrev (2606607) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231627)

Yes, it all sounds very crap to work there. But what are the alternatives?

1) The human workers are replaced by robots - this is unlikely to happen since human labor in China is so plentiful and desperate as to make it actually cheaper to "run" humans than robots. But even if it did eventually happen, you'd end up with a whole lot of people without work (and all the associated problems this creates). Menial factory work at least gives them something to do, even if their lives exist solely for someone else's profit.

2) Improve conditions, reasonable work hours, etc - sounds great, except that if one factory does this, another factory will advertise how they haven't, and so businesses will go to the other factory as they wouldn't have to deal with the reduced output and increased costs of having to treat humans like... well, humans.

3) Improvement of conditions, reasonable work hours via Government mandate - so the factories don't have any choice now and are forced to treat people like they should (more or less). Great, except that this will rise the cost of the products created and the costs will naturally be passed onto consumers in first-world countries. The electronics we buy are as cheap as they are precisely in a large part due to the slave work done in countries far away from us. Would people complain if prices went up as conditions in said countries improved? Damn right they would, unfortunately.

So what do you do? You could buy local, or at least try to. Sometimes that works, but in most cases it's not even possible, and odds are you'll find components that were sourced from the less desirable factories anyway. You can't win, short of abandoning almost all forms of modern electronic equipment. There simply isn't enough pressure to change the statue quo.

Re:Alternatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231799)

Before the GFC, it was suggested that Europe could deal with offshoring to avoid the ETS by fining importers as though they had been emitting CO2 without a licence if they couldn't prove they (and all their suppliers) were complying with EU rules. By design, the cheapest way to provide that evidence was to lobby the producing country's government to introduce a scheme tied to the EU ETS, since then proving compliance was pouched onto the foreign government (rather than the importer).

You could do something similar with wages and employment conditions, but of course the tricky part is defining what equivalent wages and conditions are, since there isn't a EU standard anyway (what is a comfortable wage in rural Latvia would have you living in a gutter in London, and there are different standards for minimum holidays, what constitutes full-time work, and so on).

The Alternatives (5, Insightful)

jeko (179919) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231919)

Menial factory work at least gives them something to do, even if their lives exist solely for someone else's profit.

Boom. There. Right there. There's your problem. If you're a fellow American, if you're a fellow member of Western Civilization, how does that not offend you to your core? "Their lives exist solely for someone else's profit" is the working definition of slavery. How can you possibly find this to be an acceptable situation?

Improvement of conditions, reasonable work hours via Government mandate

Which is how we ended child labor and instituted the 40 hour work week in this country, BTW...

Great, except that this will rise the cost of the products created and the costs will naturally be passed onto consumers in first-world countries.

Common misconception. Prices are set not by what the costs of production are but by what the market will bear. Ever hear a company say, "Our costs allow us to make a 300% markup, but we felt that amount of profit was unconscionable, so we marked the price down..."?Rising production costs don't get passed on to the consumer because the price is already set at the maximum the market will allow.

The electronics we buy are as cheap as they are precisely in a large part due to the slave work done in countries far away from us. Would people complain if prices went up as conditions in said countries improved? Damn right they would, unfortunately.

God Help Us, then let them complain. Let's call this the "Papa John" principle. When Papa John complained last month that providing his workers with healthcare would cost an extra quarter per pizza, the first thing that came to my mind was "Cool. You mean I can ensure my pizza guy doesn't have tuberculosis for an extra quarter? What can we get those poor guys if I kick in fifty cents?"

Seriously, if I pay an extra 20 bucks for my iPhone, I can eliminate slavery in China? Good grief. Bill me. If I kick in $40, can I free the North Koreans too?

Re:The Alternatives (4, Interesting)

subreality (157447) | about a year and a half ago | (#41232195)

If you're a fellow American, if you're a fellow member of Western Civilization, how does that not offend you to your core? "Their lives exist solely for someone else's profit" is the working definition of slavery. How can you possibly find this to be an acceptable situation?

Americans live to work, not work to live. In our own country we only get two to three weeks off a year, work relatively long hours (40 hours a week is considered a bare minimum slacker level, compared to most of the rest of western civilization where it's considered working yourself to death, let alone the 60-80 hours that MANY Americans have to work), and are completely dependent on staying employed lest we have no health coverage, yet we have poor job security even when we're being good little wage slaves.

That's how it is for lower and most middle class Americans; the upper-middle class at least has some savings to give themselves some safety net, but it's pretty much just how life is for the proverbial 99%.

Compare this to the Tianjin workers in TFA. It's different in degree, but that's not shocking when comparing a thoroughly post-industrialized nation with a developing one.

I'm not saying the situation is acceptable in either case. I'm just not surprised that people aren't outraged when it's not that fundamentally different from the conditions at home.

Re:The Alternatives (1)

humanrev (2606607) | about a year and a half ago | (#41232239)

Boom. There. Right there. There's your problem. If you're a fellow American, if you're a fellow member of Western Civilization, how does that not offend you to your core? "Their lives exist solely for someone else's profit" is the working definition of slavery. How can you possibly find this to be an acceptable situation?

Well I'm a fellow Australia actually, but that's still western so it's all good. Anyway, yet it does offend me (the bit about people being slaves, not the bit about being Australian). Now I don't possibly think this is an acceptable situation. But on my own, I am completely powerless to do anything about it because I simply don't have the power or leverage to make things better on a grand scale.

All I can do is follow my moral code, try to be consistent and not hypocritical with my actions, and encourage others (without being an annoying zealot) when asked why I think the way I do. It's all any of us can do really.

What job do you prefer? (2)

DeltaQH (717204) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231635)

Assemblling 200 lenses per day of flipping 200 burgers per day? Which one is better for the country?

Not to worry folks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231675)

We're working on robots to replace ALL those disgruntled workers! Those with transferable skills can move from the assembly line here to building the robots over there. However, after 5-10more years, well, who knows :)

Look. This is what technology does. It eliminates jobs. Sometimes, but only sometimes, is the technology innovative enough that it spurs job growth in other areas and may in a rare occasion become a net positive on job numbers. Deal with it and stop reproducing. Those star trek replicators... yeah think of all the jobs those eliminated and they did just fine.

Bring on the lawyers (1)

mdes (190434) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231739)

Haven't Apple already patented those work conditions?

Quick quick, sue Samsung!

kids with jobs! (3, Interesting)

dAzED1 (33635) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231761)

FTFA: "At least 3 factoriesâ"TSMD, SEHZ, and SSKMTâ"have been discovered hiring workers under 18 years of age"

Um...so? I was working at the age of 14, and had a normal non-farm job at the age of 16 (worked at a grocery store). Just because we don't expect people to be anything other than helpless children until age 26 or so these days, doesn't mean that less than 26 years ago teens had jobs. And while yes, it wasn't until I was 19 that I worked at a factory, it really didn't kill me. For serious.

Re:kids with jobs! (5, Insightful)

jeko (179919) | about a year and a half ago | (#41232125)

Hey Farm Boy,

You and I probably have similar blue-collar backgrounds and work histories, and I have the scars on my back and face to prove it. We're not talking about kids there feeding the goats and collecting eggs. We're not talking about the double-bit ax I was handed at eight years old. We're talking situations closer to ones we had in America, where we sent small children into coal mines because it was cheaper to dig exploratory tunnels that could only fit little kids instead of a full-grown man. A lot of those little boys didn't make it out when their makeshift tunnels collapsed on them. Underage labor in China doesn't mean we sent the kid out under the Texas sun to clear the field. Underage labor in China is a lot more "Oliver Twist" than "The Waltons."

But let's consider your experience. Just because you and I have had hardscrabble lives, does that mean it was right, or does that mean we think our kids should follow in our footsteps? My grandfather never finished grade school. My father had a tractor roll over on him and shatter his leg in several places. He walked with a noticable limp for the rest of his life because of a lack of proper medical care. I can tell you in exquisite detail what blood and bone tastes like and what a shot fired in anger at your head sounds like as it whizzes by.

Sure, we're all badasses here. But is this what we want for our kids? I got a handful of my own, and if my boys went their entire lives without making a fist and meaning it, that would suit me just fine.

Maybe it was the time I spent as a teacher, maybe it the result of being a father for so long, but I find my paternal insticts grow as I get older. Little kids, whether they're mine or not, are little kids. I don't wanna hear about kids in China being worked to death in God-forsaken pits any more than I'd like to hear about the same being done to mine.

China Labor Watch (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231765)

What kind of "China Labor Watch" would they be if they reported everything was OK? They have an incentive to report bad news, and spin everything in a negative direction. For all we know, they could be like NPR and think they don't even need evidence, engaging in outright fabrication [npr.org] . And why not? It supports their pre-existing mental state. "We didn't think that he was lying to us and to audiences about the details of his story."

Hey, I'm not saying Chinese factories are heaven. Even in America, factories that are unionized and obey every OSHA rule are still not particularly pleasant places to work. But the "big name" factories in China have the best working conditions, hands down. I've been to the little ones and they can be hell. If the boss thinks of himself as father to the workers, the small factories can be quite nice. But when he thinks of himself as the only smart person in the company, and the workers as reprehensible (think of it like the way liberals consider middle Americans), things can get bad. Come on, this China Labor Watch isn't going after the bad factories. It's just going after the big names to get publicity for itself. If they were actually interested in fixing things, they'd have no trouble swinging a 2x4 in China and hitting several factories that need to be exposed. But they're not interested in that, eh?

The real question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231783)

The real question is not "are the worker condition bad", the real question is "are the worker condition bad in comparison to the other job on the local job market". Many of the job you keep hearing with bad condition are actually much better than the other local job offering. Sometiems that can be the difference between "12 hours a day without pause" and "16 hours a day in a mine/chemical facility without protection". Sooooo are the condition described so much different and much worst than the other local firms ?

White People Problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231875)

The one thing all of these articles miss, is that:

Many of these people are f*ckin' poor, and that while the wages certainly aren't great (or good), they are better than not working at all-- which is how it /actually/ goes in most of the world. Work, or don't and die. Often, its the people themselves who want to work tons of overtime so they can you know... feed their kids, parents, by clothing, escape for the naturalistic hell they were born into. These people have to exist outside of an idealist's wet dream, and often times that means working is better than not, and most anything is better than starving to death.

I want to make it clear: I'm not saying they should be forced to work in terrible conditions or without human rights, I'm just saying the west should stop /pushing/ it's ideals on how one should live their life... which is exactly what this sort of shit does. If we can't do that, could we at least get a grip on their reality?

If you don't like it, don't buy products, or start volunteering more money for them-- just make sure they know why you're giving it to them... ha-ha.

-A Shrew Asshole (yes, I am an Economist)

Re:White People Problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41232005)

Speaking from a certain Eastern European country, it's a fucking holly-day when people are *allowed* to work overtime to pad their incomes with 2x the going hourly rate. Young people do it a lot, not because they are forced, because they want that new phone/TV/apartment they desire. It's the bosses that send people home because they see that they are too tired. Also 300$-600$ is also average wage for line workers over here.

So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41231963)

So what? At least it's not an Apple factory which use 13 year old children to manufacture their products ( resource: http://www.nodeju.com/18002/apple-factories-employ-child-labor.html ).

Lol apple at it again (0)

santax (1541065) | about a year and a half ago | (#41231981)

Apple who is obvious doing everything they can to damage Samsung, should just should the fuck up. At least samsung doesn't hire kids like apple does. Man, it's so obvious that Apple has put out this non-news that I find it amazing it's still on slashdot. Fuck Apple, love technology and innovation. You can't have both. Apple and innovation don't mix lol.

12 hours!?!?! dear lord!! (1)

chris.alex.thomas (1718644) | about a year and a half ago | (#41232225)

I can remember a time before i got into computers that I had to work in chicken factory, tissue factory and a cardboard factory and in all of those standing up next to a conveyor for 8 or 12 hour shifts with just 30 minutes break and it was the norm, its hard but not overly and doesn't need superhuman powers to do it

So whilst I emphasise with the conditions, its hardly slave labour...plus they are being paid better than most other jobs....so not much to complain about. At least they don't have to smash rocks with a hammer whilst being chained up or threatened with death. That would actually be slave labour

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...