Wednesday, 7 July 2010

on the factory floor

i'm not into reality tv shows. i've managed to avoid all the survivor thingies, and anything that involves gordon ramsey. i've never been interested fear factors or amazing races, can't be bothered with runways or top models. on the other hand, i do love master chef, and managed to sit through bits of american idol this year (never again, though).

but i've found another reality show that i think i'm going to be watching regularly. i really liked "undercover boss" last night on tv1 which, if you have somehow missed the promos, is about CEOs of major corporations going undercover and doing entry level jobs within their own companies. this first episode had the CEO of waste management do various jobs, from cleaning toilets, picking up rubbish, sorting rubbish & the like.

ok, i know it's a straight advertising for these companies. i know the majority of the negative stuff is cut out, and only the bits that put the CEO, the company and/or employees in a good light are retained. obviously none of these companies would have agreed to take part if that wasn't the case. and i also know that any changes made to company policies to deal with the issues raised are likely to be short-lived and met with resistance by many in top & middle management.

but even knowing all of that, i still found it refreshing to watch a show that focused on the real experiences of working people, that showed (a small part of) the reality of their lives and struggles, at least in a lot more detail than what we usually get to see. i see this programme as one that brings something positive to the fight for workers' rights.

it'll be interesting to see how it the series continues. next week they're apparently looking at the hooters chain. hmm.

in other news, an update to an earlier post on chinese workers at foxconn, larvateus prodeo reports:

As this BBC news article discusses, after changes to working conditions and salaries at Foxconn, it seems that other workers have started going on strike in factories across China, also winning substantial pay rises. But, interestingly, some workers are also demanding the right to elect their own union officials...

Workers at foreign-owned firms, from the reporting, seem more likely to strike, undoubtedly because they believe that the foreign-owned firms are more susceptible to pressure on this front; it’s also possibly due to the fact that foreign-owned companies tend to attract better-educated and higher-skilled workers. And the strikes are furtive, fearful affairs.

But, still, the consequences of these strikes could be extremely interesting. In the short term, it means a bit better life for millions of Chinese factory workers.

let's hope so, and wishing them all well in their efforts to organise collectively.


Asher said...

There's an excellent review slamming this show at the AV Club -,37961/

Hugh said...

Funnily enough, if that author's theories regarding why workers in foreign owned firms are more likely to strike are correct, it's an argument for more foreign penetration of the Chinese market.

Carol said...

Well, it also that Chinese companies, supported by China's government, are looking to make inroads here, as commented on by Bomber on Tumeke today, with reference to Fran O'Sullivan.

So really, IMO, in these times of global big corporate dominance it comes down to supporting workers' initiatives to get a fair deal. And this should be part of a wider campaign to oppose the exploitative practices of powerful corporates and the governments that support them, in which ever country they operate.