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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Comments

China Law Blog

Actually, I was surprised by the low wages Apple is paying because those wages are actually lower than I am used to see in Chinese manufacturing. There is actually a looming shortage of women to work for such wages and it would not surprise me if the wages go up, if they haven't already.

kareem

Respectfully, Michael--bullshit.

When Apple uses ppl like Ghandi and Ceasar Chavez to create its brand, there's no humane argument for treating workers like dirt, regardless of conditions in the manufacturing country.

Kareem

noah

In response to Kareem: Marketing is marketing, and nothing else. I can hardly take people seriously who make their purchasing decisions base on a sales sheet or marketing assets, and then feel they've had the wool pulled over their eyes and/or find the product’s 'image' in conflict with standard global business practices. Being a responsible consumer in a global economy means looking further than the marketing department's propaganda. Blame can hardly be placed on Apple's marketing team.

Michael Parekh

With all due respect back Kareem, I'm not sure Apple's "treating workers like dirt". They're sub-contractor Foxconn, in this instance, is likely providing competitive wages, working environment and other benefits. Otherwise, they wouldn't be in business.

As for Apple using Gandhi et al in their advertising (and not to CREATE their brand, as you state), I'd paraphrase the immortal words from the Godfather:
"It's not personal, it's just marketing".

As I mentioned, a good chunk of the developed world's consumer products are being manufactured in China.

If critics view all Chinese workers' condition as "being like dirt", then they're free to personally boycott all good made in China.

They're likely to have far less choice in products at much higher prices.

Just singling out Apple seems unfair and Quixotic.

Michael Parekh

SEVERAL TYPOS GOT THROUGH IN MY PREVIOUS COMMENT. HERE'S THE CORRECTED VERSION:

With all due respect back Kareem, I'm not sure Apple is "treating workers like dirt". Their sub-contractor Foxconn, in this instance, is likely providing competitive wages, working environment and other benefits. Otherwise, they wouldn't be in business.

As for Apple using Gandhi et al in their advertising (and not to CREATE their brand, as you state), I'd paraphrase the immortal words from the Godfather:
"It's not personal, it's just marketing".

As I mentioned, a good chunk of the developed world's consumer products are being manufactured in China.

If critics view all Chinese workers' conditions as "being like dirt", then they're free to personally boycott all good made in China.

They're likely to have far less choice in products at much higher prices.

Just singling out Apple seems unfair and Quixotic.

kareem

Noah, I disagree. If marketing exists in a vacuum, you run significant risk of backlash when other business practices don't align with what your marketing wonks espouse.

The best marketing is holistic, and consistent with the practices of other business units in a company.

It's easier than ever to gather and disseminate information, which means it's more likely that the skirt will be lifted up on companies' misaligned marketing and practices.

Opacity leaves a bad taste in customers' mouths; worse, using symbols like Ghandi and Chavez makes customers feel misled and stupid, which is never a good strategy.

kareem

Michael-

Their sub-contractor Foxconn, in this instance, is likely providing competitive wages, working environment and other benefits. Otherwise, they wouldn't be in business.

I don't buy the purely rational market argument. First, Evidence suggests that those workers are underpaid relative to market levels. Second, there is evidence to suggest that treating employees above market standards is more profitable for a business. I would argue that when ppl are underpaid and have shoddy work conditions, this is such a situation.

Agreed that it's ridiculous to pick on Apple. They've created a great brand with a loyal following, but it's inauthentic to have systems grossly misaligned like they seemingly have. BS is becoming increasingly less tolerable these days, and it behooves smart companies to pay attention to this trend.

Kareem

PS> Ghandi and Chavez were used to *help* create the Apple brand, not create it alone. But that's nitpicking and clearly not the thrust of my position. ;)

Mark Graban

"It's been a necessary rung in any step-ladder to national success through history."

Sure, conditions got better in the UK and US, but how will they improve in totalitarian China? People there aren't able to form unions. Some workers paradise, indeed.

Michael Parekh

Mark,

You're assuming the status quo remains constant.

That's not what the history of nations has shown us over time.

Thanks for participating in the discussion.

Simon

Both the US and UK went through similar working conditions. In fact all developed countries went through the same stages and were, in short, much, much worse.

Nor were unions necessarily the primary drivers that led to improvement of conditions where reformers outside any organised union. The lack of unions has never been a huge hindrance to the development of working conditions.

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