One way Dickens details the ill effects of industrialization in Coketown is through the miserable lives of Bounderby's factory workers. To owners like Bounderby, the workers are simply another part of his factory machine, and he considers them demanding and spoiled. They want, he says with great exaggeration, to be fed turtle soup with gold spoons. In reality, their lives are so harsh that they organize to strike for better conditions.
Dickens shines a particular light on one worker, Stephen Blackpool, who operates a loom in the factory and has aged beyond his years. He is described as follows:
Stephen looked older, but he had had a hard life. It is said that every life has its roses and thorns; there seemed, however, to have been a misadventure or mistake in Stephen's case, whereby somebody else had become possessed of his roses, and he had become possessed of the same somebody else's thorns in addition to his own.
A good man, Stephen refuses to strike with the other workers but also refuses to snitch on the strikers and reveal their plans to Bounderby. Bounderby fires him, and Stephen ends up dying when he falls down a mineshaft.
Industrialization in Hard Times brings masses of people hard work at very low pay in dehumanizing conditions.