In the lunch room? At the coffee machine? Even at your workstation, in the U.S., communication is part of the human existence. Unfortunately, there isn’t really a measure of how talking to a coworker can advance productivity and lift employee morale. Whether it be telling the joke of the day, talking about a favorite TV show, or just venting about work problems, having someone to talk to at work has always been an integral part of the work experience- at least in America.
At Foxconn there is no talking- none. Such a production work horse has no time for such interruption- producing 350 phones per minute and chatting about the latest episode of The Voice-China, do not mix.
Imagine your own work day, now. You work at Foxconn. Everyone around you is dressed in the same white frock, so you can not tell the difference from one person to the next. Your job is to snap two components into place and hand a unit to the person on your right. You do this at a feverish pace- you sneeze and your supervise shouts to you to ask if there is a problem. The tedium wears on your patience, but then wears on your mind– as your work you think about all of the things you would rather be doing. You want to go to college, fall in love, get married, have kids and live happily ever after, but you are completely stuck working 12 hour days for 2.00 per hour. You just barely get by. You know nothing about any of the people standing next to you- you do not even know their names- if only you could talk to them and get to know them…
As much as people have debated whether or not the work environment at Foxconn is the causal effect for suicides, the answer is as obvious as the name of the maker of your iPhone from the logo- OF COURSE. People need a human connection- Caucasian people, Spanish people, Italian people, African People and, yes, Chinese people. Everyone needs the connection- imagine if the suicide victims were allowed to talk during work? Or if communication breaks were offered that didn’t disrupt the production line? We, as consumers should certainly overcome our Apple fetishes and withhold purchases until this change is made throughout the whole of all Apple suppliers. Every word suppressed from one Foxconn worker is replaced by a word spoken to a friend or loved one on our iPhones- do we have more of a right for such communication?
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