Wednesday, April 17, 2013

iPhone factory workers

Amy sent me the below (first) article, rendering this subject non-quizzable, but it's pretty interesting.

According to Cult of Mac, "High-tech factory work represents an opportunity in many cases to sacrifice a few years to save money for a brighter future. Young Foxconn factory employees live in miserable and cramped conditions. But those conditions enable workers to squirrel away money, which is why they’re there in the first place. They hope to come out of it as young adults with thousands saved for a down payment on a house, and enough money to get married and start a better life than their parents had. It’s a brutally tough life, not just during the factory years, but before, too. Poverty is harsh, and factory work is a way out. That so many young people are willing to work so hard and so skillfully is what makes China the world’s factory. As bad as those factory conditions are, the alternative is no job and no future. In fact, these are the prospects for most of the world’s poor, who live in countries that do not have the economy and the workforce to attract iPhone-like factories. It’s also important to note that nothing in China is static. The biggest problem Chinese factory managers now have is finding enough workers. In order to attract workers, they have to increasingly raise wages and improve conditions. Very soon, the labor shortage in China will make the country less attractive as a location for new factories, and more factories will be built elsewhere in hungrier markets. China will become more like the United States, with more workers doing higher-paid jobs and the economy being more about consumption than production."

I did some more searching and came up with a few more reports centering around a reported clash between policy and angry workers that happened in fall of 2012. If "Cult of Mac" seems perhaps a less than objective source, some of these other sources are likely sensationalistic in preferences.

This article says that workers are denied vacations and are constantly under tremendous pressure.

This article calls conditions "hellish," saying that workers have long shifts with few breaks (sometimes no meal break during a 14 hour shift) and must meet extremely exacting standards. The company denies that conditions are so poor, contending that breaks (including meal breaks) are standard.

Finally, the New York Daily News sums up the factories this way: "Foxconn, with a staggering 1.2 million workers, has been accused of sweatshop conditions, paltry pay, high suicide rates and forced labor to meet production demands."

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