During my tour of the ECS factory in China I noticed that most of the workers were women. I asked the male plant manager why there are so many women working here compared to men. His answer, and I quote, was “We hire women because they’re easier to control.”
ECS is run military style with strict rules and regulations. In the above photo you can see a male manger reading the rules to a group of new female employees.
The company provides dormitory housing and food for the workers. A grape system is used to reward and punish them. A green grape means the worker is performing to accepted standards, a red grape means they’re not. Get enough green grapes and you get a reward, like being on a line where you can sit down. Get enough red grapes and you’ll find yourself on the street. You can get a red grape for infractions such as talking on the job or coming back to your dorm late. Outside of work, there really isn’t much to do. The plant is huge and the only thing nearby are other manufacturing plants.
ECS workers are paid an average of 1000RMB per month ($100US), or about the price of one ECS motherboard. The ECSM plant has 11,000 workers pumping out 2.5 million motherboards a month. Out of that 2.5 million, 11,000 goes to employee wages. That gives ECS a productivity ratio that no American manufacturer can ever hope to match. I asked the plant manager how many shifts ECSM runs on. He told me two. I then had the following conversion.
Me: “Oh, so that means this plant shuts down part of the time?”
Plant Manager: “No, we run 24 hours a day.”
Me: “But you said you only have two shifts.”
Plant Manager: “That is correct, two 12 hour shifts.”
Me to myslf: “Welcome to China.”
You can read about my ECS factory tour here.