From China to Mardi Gras: The Effect of a Bead Essay

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How often does one actually consider where a product originates or under what conditions it was produced? While out shopping a consumers main focus is on obtaining the item needed or wanted not selecting merchandise based on the “made in” tag. It is common knowledge that many products are imported from other countries. However, little thought is given to the substandard conditions that workers endure to eke out a living to maintain a poverty stricken existence. In Mardi Gras: Made in China director David Redmon demonstrates the effect globalization and capitalism have on the lives of the owner and workers of a bead factory in China while contrasting the revelry of partygoers in New Orleans. Underpaid, overworked staff toil and live in an …show more content…
(2010) Eleven to fourteen hour workdays were common, and workers were forced to put in overtime when needed. The factory runs twenty-four hours a day and workers might receive Sundays off. Unlike other countries, Chinese workers receive little paid time off. Conley used a graph to illustrate the number of paid vacation days and holidays; China is on the bottom with no paid vacation days and only 12 paid public holidays. (p.387) Penalties or disciplinary actions described as “punishment” by Wong for not meeting quotas, inferior quality, or breaking rules, were harsh and in his opinion necessary. (Redmon, 2010)
Punishment in the form of pay cuts, or fines, for a specific amount of time, were used to enforce conformity. Besides being fined for unmet quotas, inferior quality, and failure to turn off a machine, if caught talking during a shift a worker was fined one day’s pay and if caught in the dorm of the opposite sex the fine was one month’s pay. In an environment where workers only make 500 yuan ($62) a month, this loss of pay is significant. Coming from poor families, these women, who often were in their teens, endure these fines in order to send money home to help support parents and siblings. Wong believes that the low wage and punishments are “fair” and that his workers are “happy”, only concerned with when they will be paid.
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