The Labor Question in China: Apple and Beyond

Abstract This essay, by Ralph Litzinger,  introduces recent efforts by activists, NGOs, and academics to investigate and report on the working conditions for Chinese workers along Apple’s supply chain in China. Tracking the “suicide express” at the Foxconn factory complex in Shenzhen in 2010, the work of the Hong Kong–based activist labor organization Students and Scholars against Corporate Misbehavior, a coalition of environmental organizations headquartered in Beijing, and reporting by journalists, the essay shows how Apple was forced to go public about the myriad environmental, health, and labor problems in its outsourced factories. This essay also reflects on the theatrical activism and controversy surrounding Mike Daisey’s “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.” Finally, highlighting the arguments of the three contributions to this section, it shows how China’s new generation of workers is increasingly educated and gives voice to a range of desires and perspectives about the Chinese state, its relationship to global capital, and the ways of life, living, and labor for workers in the electronics industry.
Author Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), Ralph Litzinger,18 January 2013
8 Energy Intensive Industries, 8.5.5 Electronics-Computers-Mobile Phones and Batteries