Monday, January 17, 2011

Zhang Jingming's Lucky Day

Zhang Jingming works at the Dahon Bicycle factory in Shenzhen, China assembling bicycle seats.  He was recently given a raise from $1.32 to $1.45 for every bike seat he produces. He works forty five hours per week, and the more seats he can churn out , the more money he will make.  Since his raise in August he has seen his monthly pay increase to $263.00. Yes, that is monthly.  Like most mass produced goods manufactured in China, it is not about quality but of speed.  What would motivate Zhang to assemble a bike seat and make sure it was properly made, bolts tightened, cover secured, etc?, well nothing.  That would take time and that would cost Zhang lost wages.  I don't think he really cares, or his plant manager, if you or your son or daughter wreck their bike due to a seat malfunction.  But the really scary part is, in this same factory under the same wage structure, workers are assembling rims, handlebars, brake components, and finally assembling the bike itself.  As a matter of fact,  about 90% of bicycles sold here in  America are made this way in China, Taiwan, or Japan.  Next time you ride your bike take a look at where it was made.  If your bike has a sticker that says "Assembled in the USA" that just means that certain components were not installed in China, but left off to be installed in the US in order to legally claim that the bike was "assembled" in the US.  Like maybe the kick stand and that sticker that says "Assembled in the US."

1 comment:

  1. Its an interesting conundrum - its hopeful to think that when purchasing a Dahon, you are helping someone earn a living and feed his family - if you didn't, could he? Should he be paid more? Yes - but like cheap airline flights, its what is the cheapest that seems to be the "best", no worry as to fair wages, safety etc. I wonder if a movement such as "Fair Trade For Bicycles" could happen in the same way that has happened for "Fair Trade For Coffee", where the coffee growers and pickers are ensured a fair wage for their product?