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Techmeme-linked Apple fanboy bloggers are also to blame for not making a big enough issue out of Apple's slave factories in China.

Apple has a million modern slaves in China, making sub-$200 monthly salaries, with total disregard for safety, health, working seven days a week standing up (80-hour work weeks, routinely forced to do 100 hours overtime work a month), rushed and forced to build the iPhones and iPads that gave Apple's latest $13.06 billion record quarterly profit and $46.3 billion in revenue.

I make the reasoning simple. Apple is the biggest company in the world. Its wealth comes nearly exclusively from the iPod (2002-2006) and iPhone (2007-2011) which are devices built by the biggest slavery factories in China. The Apple executive (under anonymity) says it quite clearly in the NYT article: "Suppliers would change everything tomorrow if Apple told them they didn’t have another choice.”

Apple CEO and Apple Board of Directors have to demand it from suppliers to verifiably and significantly improve working conditions, that means salary increases, that means worker unions. Now. For example: Double worker salaries now, halve their working hours. Apple can't afford it? Give me a break! Average salaries per iPhone assembly is $10 (all assembly steps included). Apple makes $500 profit per iPhone. Simply increase worker pay by 4x to $40 per iPhone, make sure the worker gets all that money and not the intermediary, Apple still makes $470 profit per iPhone. Overnight, all Apple factory workers can thus make $400/month (instead of $200/month) for 40hr-work-weeks (instead of 80hr-work-weeks) with free on week-ends and with several weeks of extra yearly holiday time, and full shift flexibility. Problem solved.

Read here: http://sacom.hk/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/2011-05-06_foxconn-and-apple-fail-to-fulfill-promises.pdf

A typical day of an Apple factory worker at Foxconn in Chengdu:
06:45 Wake up
07:15 Queue up for bus
07:40 Arrive at Foxconn (breakfast and punch card)
08:10 Work assembly
08:30 Work shift begins
11:20 Lunch
12:20 Work shift resumes
17:20 Dinner
18:20 Overtime shift begins
20:20 Work shift ends
21:00 Arrive at dormitory

Transcript of a worker interview
Researcher (R) met Ah Ming (M), a 19 years old male worker, at the entrance of southern campus in Chengdu. At that time, Ah Ming was having a dinner break and he bought some food from the vendors outside Foxconn like many other workers did. He is a graduate from a tertiary school. He wants to be an engineer at Foxconn but was assigned to the production line.
R: When did you start working at Foxconn?
M: Since February.
R: What do you do at Foxconn?
M: I produce case for tablet PC.
R: Is it case for iPad?
M: Yes.
R: What do you do exactly? Molding iPad case?
M: I work on assembly line to assemble the case.
R: Do you find the work relaxing?
M: It isn’t relaxing at all! It’s exhausting. I have to stand at least 14 hours a day.
R: Do you have lots of overtime work?
M: I wake up before 7:00 am. Then I have to queue up for bus to the factory. The bus is overcrowded. The work shift starts at 8:30 am, and I have to arrive at the factory at 8:00 am.
R: Is it because of the work meeting?
M: We have to assemble in the factory everyday. At noon, we have to queue for at the canteen for a long time. Basically, we have to stand throughout the day, no matter when we going to work or going back to dorm. When we arrive at the dorm, it’s already 9:00 pm.
R: Oh…it’s really tiring. What will you do on the rest day in a week?
M: I have been here for half-month, but I haven’t got time for fun.
R: Do you mean there is no rest day on the weekends?
M: Although it states that there are 2 days-off, but I haven’t got a day off.
R: How many overtime hours do you have since you worked here?
M: We have 2 hours overtime work on every weekday. On the weekends, it’s 10-hour overtime work.
R: Have you ever tried to decline overtime work due to exhaustion?
M: Yes, I did. The company says overtime work is voluntary, but if I don’t stay for overtime work, it will be regarded as work stoppage.
R: Have you ever lodged a complaint for the forced overtime work?
M: No. I plan to resign.
R: Why?
M: I just like a robot repeating the same motion. I don’t have to use my brain. The time passed too slow. In addition, I have to stand during work.
R: What Foxconn should improve?
M: I don’t understand why we can’t sit. And we can’t bring our cell phone to the shop floor. Even the cell phone without camera is prohibited.
R: What do you want to do after the work shift ends?
M: It’s routine. Sleep, work and eat.
R: Some workers said they felt depressed did not want to talk to others after finishing their work.
M: It’s also because some of the roommates are on different shifts.
R: Can you get along well with your roommates?
M: Our room accommodates 6 persons. I only know 2 of them. The others I haven’t met them at all. When I am on day shift, they are on night shift, vice versa.
R: Thank you for your time!

Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk. Under-age workers have helped build Apple’s products, and the company’s suppliers have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and falsified records, according to company reports and advocacy groups that, within China, are often considered reliable, independent monitors.

More troubling, the groups say, is some suppliers’ disregard for workers’ health. Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to clean iPhone screens. Within seven months last year, two explosions at iPad factories, including in Chengdu, killed four people and injured 77. Before those blasts, Apple had been alerted to hazardous conditions inside the Chengdu plant, according to a Chinese group that published that warning.

“Apple never cared about anything other than increasing product quality and decreasing production cost,” said Li Mingqi, who until April worked in management at Foxconn Technology, one of Apple’s most important manufacturing partners. Mr. Li helped manage the Chengdu factory where the explosion occurred.

“Workers’ welfare has nothing to do with their interests,” he said.

Some former Apple executives say there is an unresolved tension within the company: executives want to improve conditions within factories, but that dedication falters when it conflicts with crucial supplier relationships or the fast delivery of new products.

“We’ve known about labor abuses in some factories for four years, and they’re still going on,” said one former Apple executive who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements. “Why? Because the system works for us. Suppliers would change everything tomorrow if Apple told them they didn’t have another choice.”

“If half of iPhones were malfunctioning, do you think Apple would let it go on for four years?” the executive asked.
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36 comments
 
Honestly Apple's slaves is a bit much. I'm not apologizing for the exploitation of Foxconn's workforce, but Foxconn makes everything from iPads to Xboxes to Android based tablets and phones.
The problem with articles like this is that it limits, even trivializes the suffering of these workers. Let's face facts, if you want create a link bait article, write something damning about Apple.
As journalists we should focus not just on Apple but what we as consumers turn a blind eye to in the quest for the latest greatest gadgets.
(I'm stepping off my soapbox now and will being playing my Playstation 3 with a Logitech gaming headset (also made by Foxconn) as I type from my MacBook.)
 
Imagine how crappy their options are if they choose to work here.
 
I visited several factories in my last trip to China. Apple's stuff is made right next to many other brands. You should watch out when you throw such stones. They might come back to hit you in the face.
 
+Alberto Lima I make the reasoning simple. Apple is the biggest company in the world. It's wealth comes nearly exclusively from the iPod (2002-2006) and iPhone (2007-2011) which are devices built by the biggest slavery factories in China. The Apple executive (under anonymity) says it quite clearly in the NYT article: "Suppliers would change everything tomorrow if Apple told them they didn’t have another choice.”

It's that simple. Apple is one company. The CEO and Board of Directors at Apple have the solve responsibility and opportunity to change this and improve the working conditions of those slaves who build the iPad and iPhone.
 
+Finn Krogstad That's the point, if options were better in China, the slavery factories would have to be moved to a poorer country where workers have less options.
 
With the huge profit margins Apple makes on their devices. It is very hard to explain this in any other way than pure greed.
 
+Robert Scoble Apple has all the money. Money makes the decisions in the factories. Apple makes the biggest profit margins in the industry. I've visited factories in China too and made some videos: http://armdevices.net/2011/04/12/shenzhen-behind-the-scenes-1-hongda-factory-tour/ Android enables the rest of the industry to exist. Android for example enables Huawei and ZTE to keep all the profit margins to themselves instead of all the profit margins going to foreign Apple or Asian brands. I don't have any evidence Huawei/ZTE pays their factory workers any better, but them being Government-sponsored it just might be. Also Android enables small startups in Shenzhen with just $5000 investment to start their own Android tablet assembly line with 10 people assembling their own Tablet brand, buying a PCB design from another 5-person startup, which they can sell anywhere in China or worldwide and keep more of those profit margins to themselves.
 
+Er Lern Loh Nice, I like this part...

Hua said since Jack started off as a factory worker himself, he cares a lot about taking care of his own team.
 
+Er Lern Loh thanks for the Engadget Meizu factory tour video, very interesting. Although he didn't get to film the assembly line (and I was able to, because I filmed at a smaller factory that didn't mind). Meizu is a good example of how Android is better for Chinese workers (if everything said in the video is true). They seem to get about double the salary of the Apple Foxconn workers. They may be getting better food, better working hours, etc. The reason might be Meizu makes 100% profit margin selling their Android phones at about $300 on the Chinese market (vs $650 for the same spec iPhone), and with those 100% profit margins thus staying with the manufacturer, that can possibly allow them to treat their workers better. On the other hand Foxconn signs huge contracts with Apple delivering each iPhone at $150 including assembly and components, that means a very tight margin for Foxconn which forces them to cut corners and make workers work more for less salary.
 
+Nicolas Charbonnier If you ever get the opportunity, please visit Xiaomi's factory too for comparison. I heard only good things about that company. :)
 
Since most Apple users consider Apple a god that they worship, this article is sacrilege
 
Americans would not buy an iPhone if it was made in America because it would sell for 5,000 dollars (or more); but they want jobs brought back to America, ironic isn't it?
 
+Rosendo Arizpe Intel is selling alright. HP recently announced plans to make PC in Japan.
Samsung announced to make the Apple's A* chips at Texas. You need more?
 
+Rosendo Arizpe Where are you getting that number? I honestly don't know the cost difference, so you may be right, you may be wrong. I've read reports saying an iphone would cost $20-$30 more if made in the US. It would certainly seem that for a company raking in billions, there'd be enough wiggle room in executive pay along to absorb some of that cost per phone, and people might actually be willing to pay a little more. I have no clue how accurate those numbers are though obviously, it could be closer to your number. We also all know that Steve Jobs claims it would be impossible to even build them here due to how streamline china's process is, the work ethic, etc... but again, we don't know that we couldn't do the same here with the right investment.

Its unfortunate that apple gets the spotlight because they're not alone, but they get the spotlight because they obviously are in the best position of anyone to try to improve this... and they sort of present themselves as this liberal, clean cut, pro-human, pro-environment type of thing, and clearly its a front.
 
I keep seeing the android/apple comparison here, but android doesn't make hardware. There should be no android factory. Android seems to mostly employ people here in the US in fantastic conditions from what I understand. You could argue the Nexus is android hardware... sort of.
 
yeah, I highly doubt an iphone would be $5000 but it owuld be more. Other than price, a huge reason people use factories overseas: NO UNIONS! Unions were fine int he older days, but now days we have workplace laws and bill our government has passed to protect workers... Now days, unions are just thugs who want more money for less work. Just see how many teacher's union members in NYC get paid to not work because they can't be fired but are terrible teachers... 4,000+. Greta idea huh?
 
+Robert Scoble I've seen you mention that other companies are also guilty, but being as you are very pro-apple and very defensive of apple, do you care to try to defend apple along side the other companies? Are they doing enough? Is this all unnecessary drama? Should there be a tiny bit of guilt in each of us when we pick up our phones (regardless of brand)?
 
+Finn Krogstad Maybe I misunderstand your thinking, but there is a huge huge difference between survival/feeding your family, and huge amounts of excess. Clearly for one to subject themselves to terrible conditions, they must desperately need their money. If apple was making enough to stay afloat, pay the bills, etc, you'd have an argument, but when they're bringing in stunning amounts of excess, could easily be viewed as greed.
 
I do not mean to attack or criticize Apple or any other company specifically.
No one can deny that many American and European corporations lead the evolution and advance of technology (like Intel, Google, Apple, Siemens, etc.); but when it comes to manufacturing labor, it's all about the bottom line and make the shareholders happy.
My comment is about the lack of congruence (I don't know if that word means the same in English as in Spanish) of the average american consumer. You want the top-notch most advanced gadgets, the best performing cars, the largest LED TV's, but you want them to be cheap, then the companies look for cheaper ways to produce these items.
And then someone bullies about the slave factories in China.
Who is going to do anything about it? Will americans (or anyone from any country for that matter) will stop being "Apple fans" and stop buying iPhones and iPads?; Will anyone boicot Apple because of this? Guess not.
Will the Apple shareholders do something about it? Don't think so either.
But then americans complain that jobs are taken overseas, Do you really think any company will pay you $20 dollars an hour or more for just tightening screws? Get real.
I am not saying that I approve these factories; but there are two sides to this situation: One country that allows things like this to happen, and companies from the Western world who use this slavery labor; take away any of the two factors and the problem disappears.
 
Sad story, the poster child for corporate greed.
 
It happens when the system goes beyond "free trade" and becomes voracious capitalism.
 
it's absurd to think all Android devices are produced in positive worker environments, and all iOS devices makers are slaves. the electronics industry is all dirty, but you fanboys will glorify or vilify anything to prove your point. i'm disgusted, frankly, that you'd use human rights to further such a petty conflict.
 
+emilio g It's because of people like you that this system is allowed to continue. Apple fanboys like you aren't able to give the blame to Apple for that system, simply discarding it as everyone else also does it so why should Apple be responsible. It's the same attitude of not blaming the number 1 polluter in the world (USA simply because other countries also pollute, not blaming McDonalds for the health of people because there exists other fast food restaurants, not blaming the bankers in Wall Street for the economic crisis simply because many bankers were involved. With your attitude nothing gets done ever. Nobody is ever blamed for anything. Nobody with blame is ever forced to change things.

I'm not saying all Android devices are built with better working conditions than Apple devices. But the evidence is here. It can't get much worse than Apple slavery. The Apple slaves are getting paid less than $200/month for 80-hour work weeks, no families allowed, no friends allowed, no unions allowed, cookies for breakfast, they have to stand up the whole day for no reason, their factories explode and they die, many contemplate suicide. Those are the facts. Apple just announced $13 billion profit and $43 billion revenue for the quarter. That means more than $1 billion profit per week, more than $4 billion revenue per week. All the while slaves are pushed to build the iPhone and iPad.

I can't prove if some Android devices are built under better conditions, they perfectly can since Android is the OS that all Chinese companies may use for free to build their own devices and pay their workers a much larger share of profits if they want. I've filmed examples of small factories with just 20 workers, cranking out a few hundred tablets, maybe a thousand tablets in a days work, the PCB design coming from a little 10-people PCB design house partner company, the casing design being a Chinese open design (not a clone, simply an open source case design), and them thus being able to sell those 1 thousand Android tablets onto whichever market wants to buy them. All over the China those types of Android tablets and smartphones are being bought, and they can export worldwide. The trade shows like CES, CeBIT, IFA, Computex, Hong Kong Electronics Fair, China Sourcing Fair, those trade shows are full with those small Chinese Android start-ups and they are all having the opportunity to make a lot of money without some big brand like Apple forcing them to cut corners and minimize profit margins and thus being forced to abuse workers.
 
+Rosendo Arizpe the assembly cost is what we are talking about here. Components is another cost. And profit margins is a factor also. The numbers currently are:

$10 for Chinese workers assembling each iPhone.
$140 for the components (all sent to the Chinese factory that just puts them together)
$500 is Apple's pure profit per iPhone (each iPhone is sold at an average of $650 mostly through carriers)

Now I suggest Apple be forced to change these numbers to something like this:

$40 for Chinese workers, thus they can get 2x more pay for 2x less work ($400/month for 40hr-work-weeks is still far from US conditions and minimum salaries)
$140 for the components
$470 is Apple's new profit margin on the same iPhone.

Apple could if they really wanted and perhaps was forced by the US Government move assembly into the USA, it's totally possible. Components would still all be sourced from all types of suppliers in China. But assembly could be done in the USA. The cost and profit margins would be something like this when considering the price of the iPhone does not need to go up:

$120 for US workers assembling each iPhone
$140 for the components, still mostly sourced from Asia
$240 would be Apple's new profit margin if the iPhone had a "Made in USA" sticker behind it.

This is perfectly possible. But as we live in a totally unregulated capitalism, where huge corporations like Apple aren't even forced to pay taxes on all their profits, where they are totally free to use manufacturing in poorer countries and have their suppliers abuse workers dignities and basically work them as slaves would be. In this system there is no way to "force" companies like Apple to improve worker conditions in China and even less to suggest them bring assembly line work to the USA.
 
i am absolutely not condoning Apple, and they must change their practices. i am just disgusted that anyone would use this in petty mobile OS wars. it wouldn't be hard to find Android manufacturers engaged in the same worker abuses, so where's your outrage about that?
 
+emilio g that's like being outraged at the local baker instead of McDonalds for the obesity epidemic for them making fat chocolate croissant breads or it's like being mad at the Romanian Army instead of George Bush's US Army for starting the Iraq war. Sure enough Android makers (especially the big ones) are also part of the game, but as I explained Android is the only platform Chinese brands can use to keep all the money in China instead of giving all the profits to Apple. And it's just completely wrong to equally blame companies that make 100x less profit than Apple. Apple has all the money, thus Apple should get most of the blame! This is simple logic! Follow the money!
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