Skip to comments.INCONVENIENT TRUTH: Your iPhone Was Built, In Part, By 13 Year-Olds Working 16 Hours/Day
Posted on 01/15/2012 11:38:19 AM PST by SeekAndFind
We love our iPhones and iPads.
We love the prices of our iPhones and iPads.
We love the super-high profit margins of Apple, Inc., the maker of our iPhones and iPads.
And that's why it's disconcerting to remember that the low prices of our iPhones and iPads--and the super-high profit margins of Apple--are only possible because our iPhones and iPads are made with labor practices that would be illegal in the United States.
And it's also disconcerting to realize that the folks who make our iPhones and iPads not only don't have iPhones and iPads (because they can't afford them), but, in some cases, have never even seen them.
This is a complex issue. But it's also an important one. And it's only going to get more important as the world's economies continue to become more intertwined.
Last week, NPR's This American Life did a special on Apple's manufacturing. The show featured (among others) the reporting of Mike Daisey, the man who does the one-man stage show The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, and the NYT's Nicholas Kristof, whose wife is from China.
Here are some details:
The Chinese city of Shenzhen is where most of our "crap" is made. 30 years ago, Shenzhen was a little village on a river. Now it's a city of 13 million people--bigger than New York.
Foxconn, one of the companies that builds iPhones and iPads (and products for many other electronics companies), has a factory in Shenzhen that employs 430,000 people.
There are 20 cafeterias at the Foxconn Shenzhen plant. They each serve 10,000 people.
One Foxconn worker Mike Daisey interviewed, outside factory gates manned by guards with guns, was a 13-year old girl. She polished the glass of thousands of new iPhones a day.
(Excerpt) Read more at businessinsider.com ...
‘Sweatshops’ are a good thing.
A Chinese working “hour” is 60 minutes—unlike an American “hour,” which generally includes breaks for Facebook, the bathroom, a phone call, and some conversation. The official work day in China is 8 hours long, but the standard shift is 12 hours. Generally, these shifts extend to 14-16 hours, especially when there’s a hot new gadget to build.
Assembly lines can only move as fast as their slowest worker, so all the workers are watched (with cameras). Most people stand.
The workers stay in dormitories. In a 12-by-12 cement cube of a room, Daisey counts 15 beds, stacked like drawers up to the ceiling. Normal-sized Americans would not fit in them.
Unions are illegal in China. Anyone found trying to unionize is sent to prison.
Some workers can no longer work because their hands have been destroyed by doing the same thing hundreds of thousands of times over many years (mega-carpal-tunnel). This could have been avoided if the workers had merely shifted jobs. Once the workers’ hands no longer work, obviously, they’re canned.
One former worker had asked her company to pay her overtime, and when her company refused, she went to the labor board. The labor board put her on a black list that was circulated to every company in the area. The workers on the black list are branded “troublemakers” and companies won’t hire them.
Wow! I’m impressed! In this country you can’t get a 13 yr old to take out the trash. j/k sorta
Waiting for the inevitable tie-in to Bain Capital...oh wait, Apple is a liberal darling...never mind. Please move on, nothing to see here.
So, Not only do all citizens of the world have American civil rights, but they are also covered by the OSHA regulations.
And their bosses are the same folks who regulate against domestic, small businesses here. Attack their precious zoning ordinances against small manufacturing operations in their sparsely populated counties, and do some research on who shows up to fight you.
>>Unions are illegal in China. Anyone found trying to unionize is sent to prison.<<
So the Chinese do one thing we should copy.
“Commie! Commie! Traitor to our country! This guy’s spreading propaganda.”
“Get your skinny *ss outta here!”
How about those NIKE shoes that Leroy rioted over last week.
$180 bucks for a pair of Chinese made sneakers that probably cost less than $5.00 to make.
Lots more profit in sneakers sold to idiots, than Ipad ever thought of making.
So these kids are working 6 or 7 days a week for what looks looks to us to be meager wages. Is that bad? Sounds bad. But consider the alternative: starvation or something close to that. At the minimum it would be back to the farms and back to scratching out a living trying to grow your own food.
Clearly, that is not what they want to do or they would simply quit their jobs and do so.
Read a little history. It was not that long ago in this country when children had to work to survive. We don’t do that anymore. We worked ourselves out of it and so will the Chinese. Give them some time and they will move from the 19th to the 20th century. And maybe, in time, to the 21st.
I heard the show. It is worth listening to. But I did notice that they hedged a little at the end. For instance, the beginning of the show seemed to imply that incredibly under-aged workers are common. But at the end the interviewer admitted that the ones he interviewed were all part of the same small group of friends who happened to come up to him.
And the alternatives for those teens are...?
From the expired TJIC.com:
Say that we had first contact with some super (economically) advanced aliens.
and pretty soon they set up factories here.
and I was offered a job in one of these factories, doing software engineering.
The pay is $400k/year.
The work week is 20 hours long.
The work environment is far better than Im used to great internal decoration, well tended plants, a zen-like water garden near my desk, massages every other day.
and then left-wing alien sentient being rights activists started protesting, because I was being forced to work for less than a quarter of the prevailing wage in Alpha Centauri, and my work hours were twice as long as the legal norms in Alpha Centauri, and I didnt have every mandatory benefits like other other year off, and free AI musical composition mentoring.
and then left-wing alien sentient being rights activists wanted to make it illegal for my employer and I to contract with each other at mutually beneficial terms.
then I would be rip shit that some elitist who had never visited me, or knew of my actual alternatives on the ground presumed to decide that I shouldnt have this opportunity.
Which brings me to my core point: Chinese factory conditions may not be the exact cup of tea for a San Francisco graphic designer or a Connecticut non-profit ecologist grant writer but theyre, by definition, better than all the other alternatives available to the Chinese workers (or the factories would find it impossible to staff up).
Butt out, clueless activists.
I think you are counting on Christian values in non-Christian countries.
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