Long time China correspondent Adam Minter has a good interview in Time Out Shanghai that anyone interested in labor standards in China should read. Here is how he answered a question about whether Foxconn’s labor standards need to be improved:
My expertise is not in high-tech manufacturing, but rather recycling facilities like scrap yards, and raw material processing facilities like aluminum smelters. I wouldn’t want to generalize either of those industries, but I can tell you that companies engaged in raw materials are far more dangerous, unhealthy, and unpleasant places to work than somewhere like Foxconn. Indeed, I can think of a range of industries that are more dangerous than Foxconn: textile dying, batttery manufacture, paper making, the list is endless.
The goal should not be raising the standards of Foxconn, but rather the much more difficult task of raising up China’s other industries to the level of a Foxconn. Responsibility for that, however, belongs to the various levels of the Chinese government, ultimately. I don’t think any amount of consciousness raising on the part of foreigners can make a bit of difference.
I don’t think Mike Daisey has had any impact on China’s labor situation, and I don’t expect his current troubles to have an impact either.