Four workers at Apple-supplier Foxconn’s Longhua plant have tried to kill themselves in the past month.
These events follow another suicide last summer and the roughing-up of a Reuters reporter that tried to investigate the factory.
Given the popularity of iPhones, iPads, and other gadgets, the world needs to have a better understanding of the conditions under which they are produced. With this in mind, here’s a refresher.
Last summer, we reported on the story of Sun Danyong, the Chinese factory worker who threw himself off a 12-story building after misplacing an iPhone prototype.
We also published an account of what it’s like to work at Foxconn, Sun Danyong’s former employer.
Foxconn makes gadgets for companies like HP, Apple, and Nintendo.
That account, originally published by China labour Watch, makes Foxconn factories seem less like a nightmare from Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and more like an extremely strict bording school or perhaps a white collar prison like the place they sent Bernie Madoff.
Foxconn assembles products for vast electronics giants like Apple, HP, and Nintendo.
Foxconn employees get one hour break each day, during which they eat lunch. Employees are fined if they don't finish their rice.
China labour Watch says Foxconn workers 'Lack of rest days as required by law; regular workers have one day off every two weeks.'
Says a Foxconn factory worker: 'The training begins immediately on the second day upon our arrival. At first I thought we would be informed of some professional operative skills and knowledge, but instead, we were taught the factory's regulations, culture, and acknowledgment of Foxconn's business concept. By now, I think it is safe to say that the training is a part of Foxconn's brain washing process. A supervisor told us that working at Foxconn requires total obedience; you do not need to be intelligent or highly skilled. After a week of training, we concluded that at Foxconn, we shouldn't treat ourselves as human beings, we are just machines. During the week, we also had a health examination, a very simple blood test, a blood pressure test and a vision test. We did not receive any results afterwards.'
Says one Foxconn employee: 'Just the second day living in the dorm, I found my safe box open, and my walkman gone. There was nothing I could do but to try to tell myself that I was lucky because it was not that expensive.'
China labour Watch says employees complain that Foxconn dorms smell like garbage.
Despite conditions many Americans wouldn't suffer, Foxconn is considered a desirable place to work.
Says one employee: 'I consider myself lucky because one week after the on-site training I was selected by a CCPBG recruiter, which means I am officially a regular worker. When the selection takes place, it seems like a slave market where slave owners get to pick suitable slaves. There were about a couple hundred of us going through on-site training, and when the recruiters from other companies on Foxconn campus come, all of us have to stand straight in lines, putting our hands behind our backs, and wait for these recruiters to pick. After the selection ends, those who did not get picked go back to their work post. They cannot become regular workers until being picked so I was very lucky to be selected the first week. Many of my classmates are still doing on-site training waiting to be picked.'
An entry-level employee working 12-hour days earns about $220 per month at Foxconn. That's about $.85 per hour.
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