The factory employs 300,000+ workers who endlessly pump out iPods, iPads and iPhones under extremely poor conditions. In fact, the working environment is so stressful that at least nine employees attempted suicide since the beginning of the year.
...the factory workers live in a sort of indentured servitude. They work all day long, stopping only to quickly eat or to sleep. They repeat the same routine again and again except on public holidays. Liu’s was surmised that for many workers, the only escape from this cycle was to end their life.
Liu, a graduate student, was chosen because of his young age, since the factory only hires workers in their 20s. He was hired without issue. He signed only one special document: An overtime working agreement that says the company is not responsible for their long hours of working. According to Liu, this voluntary agreement overrules Chinese state regulation.
Foxconn workers only smile on the 10th of every month. That’s the day when they get their salaries. That day, the ATM machines inside the factory are crowded with workers. Their monthly salaries start at 900 Chinese Yuan – about $156.
The factory is so large that a consultant who showed up at the wrong entrance to the factory was told to get back in his car and drive to the next entrance. That trip took a half an hour.
Apple is not Foxconn's only customer. Reportedly Sony, HP, Microsoft, Nokia, Nintendo, Dell and Cisco are are also served by the company.
Technology journalist Wolfgang Juerner describes the working conditions in even more detail:
...some [employees are] paid only $130 a month at less than the Chinese minimum wage of about 55 cents. Some are working 98 hours per week, are under permanent surveillance, by cameras and co-workers, are not allowed to talk during work hours.
Microsoft recently came under fire for having its mice manufactured in sweatshops by 15 and 16 year old teenagers who work 15 hour days, 6 days a week for 52 cents per hour. They have to assemble 2000 Microsoft mice per shift.
In factories near Hong Kong, workers in such factories reportedly lose 40,000 fingers on the job every year, due to unsafe manufacturing equipment, according to the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. Consumer groups claim that companies consistently try to cheat their employees out of earned wages, do not provide health benefits and expose their workers to toxic materials like lead, cadmium and mercury. Here in the U.S. we are worried about baby bottles that may carry a potentially unsafe material and lead in toys. But we don’t care about those who assembled those products.
Earlier this year, other companies -- including Apple -- came under fire for using child slave labor, including eleven 15-year-old kids discovered in 2009.
The reason I bring all of this up? The New York Times' Thomas Friedman.
The man can't stop praising China's government, though it is a known human-rights violator, suppresses political dissent, employs slave labor, attacks religious believers and otherwise behaves like a despotic regime that's addicted to money.
He lauds China's government endlessly, prattling on about pristine airports and train stations as if he got the VIP tour from a Communist Party drone. Which he probably did.
To put things in perspective, the Times is infamous -- notorious, in fact -- for suppressing news about the Holocaust during World War II.
Friedman appears to be carrying on that grand tradition, carrying water for despots and papering over the inhuman treatment of millions.