Sunday, May 19Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

How companies are becoming exploitative.

Connor Deith investigates the rise of trans-national Corporations.

It’s no secret that Apple Inc. has faced its fair share of criticism.

From tax dodging to sweatshop labour, there’s very little doubt that Apple’s success as one of the world’s largest companies is due in some part to its ability to deflect such accusations and reign as a technological giant. Some of these problems manifest themselves in countries such as China and Taiwan, due to the extent to which Apple’s influence has impacted on the vast hordes of labourers which goes to show just how devastating the effects a large corporate presence can have.
Investigations into the conditions of workers in Chinese factories have recently spawned from the news of the Foxconn suicides. Foxconn, a major manufacturer who have business ties with the likes of Apple, HP and Sony, saw the death of 14 of its workers in 2010 alone, widely regarded in some part as a mass protest against labour abuses within the factory situated in Shenzhen. Since then, the BBC has conducted more undercover research, this time in the Taiwanese factory Pegatron, in order to determine whether the situation has changed for workers after Apple published promises to protect them following the suicides. What the BBC found in 2014 was less than satisfying.

The report found that workers continued to struggle through 60 hour weeks as a result of their overtime being fixed in to their regular working hours, resulting in exhaustion across the factory floor. They would sleep during their breaks and often on the job itself. They are offered a ‘choice’ as to whether they would like to work under certain circumstances, like at night or during the day. In reality, they are given no such thing. ‘Don’t tick the options which indicate that you are not willing,’ they are told as they progress through their enrolment, ‘tick the two which say you are.’ This sort of treatment further implies that Apple’s standards for their employees, or at least the ways in which they enforce them, has dropped considerably since their promises to improve conditions were released.

This is not a uniquely ‘Apple-problem’. We observe this degree of exploitation in the major TNC’s Nestle, Coca-Cola and of-course, many others. As modern capitalism spreads, the rise of multi-national corporations will occur with greater tendency than ever, such is the insatiable thirst of demand for luxury items, companies such as McDonalds are able to generate as much income as national economies like Pakistan.
There is only one thing left to contend: whether the rise of TNCs means that exploitation will incur, or if there is a way we can modify existing modes of production to generate a global economy whose TNC’s accommodate for genuine worker’s rights.