Our society has gotten so used to beautifully packaged smart phones that one typically wouldn’t consider the human cost of producing each device. This video documentary gives us some perspective by following the lives of several workers in China who work in the factories that produce this devices we’ve all come to love.
Here are some startling facts noted in the video:
- “In China, every year, over 12 million teenagers leave home to find work. They’re part of 260 million Chinese who must travel far from home just to make a living.”.
- Benzene is a chemical compound that is used a lot in these factories. It’s a category 1 carcinogen banned for industrial use in most Western countries. China, who is responsible for making over 50% of smart phones in the world, is an exception.
- Benzene is known to cause cancer like leukemia. Workers employed these factories are exposed to it for long hours without any ventilation.
Here are some memorable quotes from the video:
“My work day started at 8:00 a.m. and ended at 11:00 p.m.. There were no holidays. I only had one night off a month. We sat there all day cleaning phone chips and using chemicals.”
“There was an Apple screen and a Nokia screen. When I wasn’t eating or sleeping I would be wiping something. It was the only thing I did. There was no other ventilation, no windows. The smell was horrible at first, but I eventually got used to it.”
“My son’s name is Ming Quin Pong. He just turned 26 years old. This should be the best time of his life. But, unfortunately, he was diagnosed with leukemia in May of 2009. After three examinations over 12 months, it was confirmed to be occupational leukemia. It was a form of cancer caused by benzine. ”
“I’ve now been through twenty-eight Chemotherapy treatments. My bones hurt a lot. It feels like thousands of ants biting my insides. It’s really painful.”
“It took 19 months of struggle to prove that my leukemia was workplace related. I petitioned to the government authorities many times and was sent home by force.”
“You know what, when I was in the hospital, I couldn’t walk, but I didn’t dare tell my mother. I had expected that I would be responsible, that I would try to relieve some of the burdens from my parents, but the truth is I ended up as their burden…”
“He jumped off the building. He ultimately chose to end his own life. He couldn’t take the struggle any longer. The pressure of dealing with this illness, the factory, and benzine poisoning. I propose that we all stand up and hold a silent tribute for Ming. We are all benzine patients. For those of us who are alive, we need to fight for our rights, for justice, and live on.”
Who is to blame here? The companies for allowing overseas employees to work in such condition? Or us as consumers for adding onto the demand for these devices? Make some noise in the comments below!