For this assignment I was looking into the level of awareness about where our products are manufactured and if it influences our choices in buying that product. Last week we watched a video in our lecture about EUPA, a major company in the southeast of China that employs 1700 employees and manufactures products we use every day. EUPA, also known as the ‘Factory City’ produce coffee makers, irons and grills in very large quantities and it definitely made me more aware of where my stuff actually gets made. The working conditions and lifestyles of these employees of EUPA were very different to the conditions we have in factories in Britain. EUPA employees live at their work and most of them get married there, which seems completely different to how we work but most of them seemed very content with this way of living. The accommodation and food seemed like it was high quality and they make friends and even send their kids to school there.I wanted to find out more information about production in China and decided to look into Apple products as they are very commonly used among people today. Most of Apple products are manufactured in China but after learning about the EUPA factories I wanted to see the difference between factories and the people who work there. Foxconn is based in China and is the company that makes most of Apples products, and just like EUPA, the workers sleep, eat and work here. Most of the employees that work at Foxconn are working there so that they can provide for their distant families. Factory worker at Foxconn, Apple Products
The conditions at Foxconn are similar to EUPA in that they produce large quantities everyday and the workers accommodation is based on the factory premises. EUPA, however are very focused on satisfying their workers and keeping them happy but at Foxconn, the pay is very low and they have to share very small rooms with other people that they don’t know. What was interesting about EUPA was how the workers received lessons on how the products worked and learned information inside out about that product. At Foxconn most of the workers are from the countryside and have never even seen how an Ipad/ Iphone works, yet they spend six days a week making them. The girl featured in the photograph above was asked in an interview on the BBC what she wanted the people who end up buying these Apple products to know about her, she replied ‘ I want them to know me, I want them to know we put a lot of effort into that product and when they use it, use it with care’.
After getting an insight about factories in China and where our stuff comes from I feel a lot more aware but I wanted to ask other people their opinions. I asked the following questions to different age groups in Dundee.
1) When you buy something, do you check where it was made?
2) Does this influence your choice in buying that product? why?
3) Do you think about the people who made that product that you use?
I interviewed different age groups – Students , Middle aged , and elderly.
2) Not really
3) I’m aware it was probably made in a factory but I tend not to think about the person that made it.
Middle Aged Group
1) Only sometimes, it depends what it is i’m buying.
2) If i knew it was made in an area that had harsh working conditions I would be less likely to buy it. But most companies are private about their working conditions on factories so most people are unaware.
1) Yes. I like to know where my stuff comes from
3) Yes, especially if it is a product that has been handmade. Whereas electrical products, i would assume are made by different machinery.
From the interview results I received, it seems like most people are fairly unaware of where their products are made and they don’t really think about the person in the factory who has made that product. After reading and learning about the companies Foxconn and EUPA, I think people dont take into consideration the long hours and hard effort that goes in to making these products for us.