Trapped by work??
Trip Start Oct 05, 2004
80Trip End Jun 30, 2005
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Where? A low risk or open prison perhaps? No, this is the reality of life for millions of workers in production facilities in Southern China. The operating model is used by local and international firms alike and often applies to blue and white collar staff.
It sounds grim and when you see it for the first time it's a shock. Some sites hold 10 or 20000 people. Actually, a lot of people are migrant workers and seem relatively happy to be looked after and to belong to a clearly identifiable body of people. The queues of people at the banks waiting to send money home at the week or month end are always huge.
To employees in developed countries, this is anathema - it's a throwback to Dickensian work houses. In Western Europe it would be legally impossible. People are effectively owned by their boss and controlled 24/7 by the company. Here - for now at least - it works. Economically, it's a powerful model for the companies competing on a global market: overtime is largely unquestioned, labour resource is rapidly transferable around the country if you have accommodation ready, and if you are clever in providing recreational facilities you can create psychological ties drawing your people together in a community. That's what the couch potatoes in developed countries are competing with and they haven't got a clue what's coming!