The CEO of a multinational fashion retailer is invited to take part in the TV show Boss Goes Under Cover. He is a demanding employer, known throughout the industry for his efficiency, keeping down costs and firing anyone who puts a foot out of line.
With a film crew, he travels to the Philippines where many of his company’s clothes are manufactured. He works on the factory floor as a machinist, stitching jeans which retail at more than £100 for less than £1 per hour. After a few days, the camera crew return to the UK but he stays on. He obtains a permanent job in the factory, working 14 hour days. Sometimes by the end of the day he is so tired he struggles to stand, his hands cramped from repetitive strain and his mouth dry from lack of refreshment. Sometimes he gets up from his machine only to be told that there is a large shipment which must go out the next day and everyone must work overtime without pay.
Gradually he picks up the local language and learns the stories of those he works alongside. One friend has five children at home; rather than collapse exhausted on her mattress at the end of a punishing day, she cooks and cleans for her family. Another machinist is bitter and angry; he has tried to start a union, to campaign for better working conditions, but leaving work one evening he was badly beaten and told to back off. He tried the police, but they were not interested, wanting to keep the foreign investors happy. He wants his nephews and nieces to have a chance of an education, but on his wages this will never be possible.
Eventually there comes a day when the former CEO has forgotten that he ever paid £100 for a pair of jeans. He throws out the pair he arrived in the country wearing, which are now riddled with holes and tears, and scrapes together a few coins to buy a cheap pair from the local market. He marries a local woman and works hard in the factory, hoping by his good performance to soften the hard heart of the foreman and improve everyone’s lot.
- Why would a CEO take a job as a machinist in a factory?
- Why would a rich Englishman choose to live in a poor country?
- Why would God himself choose to be born a human being?
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