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Foxconn employees endure hellish working conditions to earn a tiny wage for building Apple's iPads, iPods, and iPhones.  (Source: Southern Weekly)

The conditions are so bad, some employees have taken their own lives. Foxconn has created the "stress room", a place where emloyees can be away their rage and frustration, in hopes of decreasing the suicide rate.  (Source: Southern Weekly)
Apple's parts supplier Foxconn faces more controversy

Last time a reporter tried to penetrate Apple's veil of secrecy, security guards employed by their parts supplier, Foxconn, beat up the reporters involved.  But questions had to be answered in the wake of the suicide/potential murder of a Foxconn employee which occurred after the employee lost an iPhone prototype.

Chinese newspaper Southern Weekly was determined to find out the true story, and sent a reporter in undercover, posing as a new employee.  Given the fact that Foxconn's Shenzen plant that builds Apple's iPads, iPods, and iPhones has 400,000 employees, that part wasn't too hard.

What was hard, was for the reporter to endure the plant's reportedly hellish working conditions for 28 days. 

So far in the last four and a half months seven workers from the plant have committed suicide, and at least 9 have attempted suicide.  According to reporter Liu Zhi Yi who infiltrated the plant, the likely reason why was that they felt taking their own life was the only option to escape the hellish working conditions of the plant.

According to Liu, the plant makes employees work around the clock, only pausing briefly to eat or sleep.  Most of the time the employees are standing, seldom able to sit down and rest their weary legs.  This is perfectly legal, as employees are required to sign a special overtime document that override Chinese workplace laws and essentially allows the employer to demand whatever hours they want from you, without additional compensation.

Foxconn pays the workers far too little for them to hope to buy one of the Apple products they assemble.  It pays them only 900 Chinese Yuan a month —about $130 USD.  Still the workers have dreams.  They joke that their carts that they haul Apple materials on are "BMWs", dreaming of real BMWs.  They buy lottery tickets and bet on horse races in hopes of miraculously being handed an escape from their purgatory.

But for most, they will live out their lives slaving away to build Apple's products, constantly in danger, while earning only a pittance.  So, according to the newspaper there's little surprise some employees fall into deep despair.

Foxconn at the request of Apple and Chinese state officials has made some steps to decrease the suicide rates.  It's hired counselors and given workers dummies to beat on to vent their rage.  And it's even been so kind as to hire Buddhist monks to allow the souls of those who committed to suicide to escape purgatory.

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Media sensationalism at it's best
By msheredy on 5/19/2010 3:31:59 PM , Rating: -1
Foxconn is a completely separate company from Apple. They bid on the job and they won so Apple gives them business. So why is Apple's name in the headline??? Does Apple run Foxconn??? Nope.

RE: Media sensationalism at it's best
By cochy on 5/19/2010 3:35:31 PM , Rating: 2
Apple must burn for this! BURN!

By zonkie on 5/20/2010 12:55:22 AM , Rating: 2
If it wasn't made in a sweatshop, they blew it!

RE: Media sensationalism at it's best
By smackababy on 5/19/2010 3:38:13 PM , Rating: 2
Execept this is a factory where they make iPods and iPhones. Therefore it is an iPod factory, or more correctly, an Apple iPod factory.

RE: Media sensationalism at it's best
By RjBass on 5/19/2010 3:43:38 PM , Rating: 5
Seriously, when Nike was found to be using child labor the world united against them, forcing them to change their ways. Why should this be any different? Ohhh ya, that's right, if Sir Jobs says it's ok and it just works then he MUST be right.

What Jobs really means is "They (the Chinese people) just work, and work and work, and then die".

By WoWCow on 5/19/2010 4:02:30 PM , Rating: 3
"They (the Chinese people) just work, and work and work, and then die".

Yep, until they finally suffer a boiling heat from rage at 102+ degrees and die (or explode) on their own under extreme stress.

On my own note* I think its quite obvious the qualities of apple product is reflected by the people who makes them, not by the people who uses them.

By hyvonen on 5/19/2010 7:51:21 PM , Rating: 2
The fact that they make iPods and iPhones doesn't make it an exclusive "Apple iPod factory". Foxconn makes a ton of non-Apple stuff.

Apple is being singled out unfairly.

RE: Media sensationalism at it's best
By Danger D on 5/19/2010 3:39:28 PM , Rating: 5
A company is responsible for who makes its products. Nike was hammered for child labor in 3rd world countries, as was Gap. They work to change practices and monitor their suppliers for abuse.

Apparently Apple does not care to do this. It's not like this is the first time they've heard that their supplier has a gaping black hole for a soul. Apple assumes responsibility for supporting this.

RE: Media sensationalism at it's best
By rmclean816 on 5/19/2010 4:06:58 PM , Rating: 2
And they probably knew about it from the start.

By Danger D on 5/19/2010 5:24:16 PM , Rating: 2
If so, at least they responded to the public pressure. I prefer “Oops you caught us.” to “Shut the F up, it’s not our responsibility.”

By alanore on 5/19/2010 3:40:02 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah that like trying to blame BP for Transocean's oil leak...oh wait, eh.

RE: Media sensationalism at it's best
By corduroygt on 5/19/2010 3:42:16 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah, I don't think any of my CE devices are built under better conditions than what's described. Which is really close to the model of pure capitalism: Barely sustain your workers while all the profits go to the owners.
Unions were formed to prevent this sort of thing, but then they went too far. I'd be supporting federal laws that prevent this sort of thing

By xthetenth on 5/20/2010 8:20:37 AM , Rating: 2
That's only the model of pure capitalism when there's a surplus of workers, otherwise they'd be able to demand higher wages. The unions in the US served their purpose though, and we have laws to protect the workers and their ability to get a good wage, which is what China needs but won't get, because they're trying to make as much money for modernization as fast as possible.

By dark matter on 5/19/2010 3:47:53 PM , Rating: 2
What a tool.

RE: Media sensationalism at it's best
By KWRussell on 5/19/10, Rating: 0
RE: Media sensationalism at it's best
By hyvonen on 5/19/2010 7:54:07 PM , Rating: 1
Think of it as DailyTech letting Dell, HP, Microsoft, Amazon, and Sony off the hook, by shifting their share of the blame onto Apple, for what goes on at Foxconn's factory.

^This. Foxconn is a cheapo manufacturer for a bunch of tech companies. It's just popular to attack Apple.

It's just a matter of time before everyone realizes Foxconn makes the vast majority of CPU sockets.

By wired009 on 5/20/2010 2:49:18 AM , Rating: 2
Apple is a target because they have the capability to influence suppliers like Foxconn. We're talking about a company that is nearly the size of Microsoft in market cap. It has a commanding share of portable music devices, so it makes perfect sense for journalists to go after the big shrimp in this situation. It's not some "I feel like picking on Apple today" mentality that many posters like to believe. It boils down to the fact that many consumers relate themselves to Apple. If consumers are aware of the abuses going on at Foxconn, they can make a better informed choice about whether to spend their money on products that come from those sources. Perhaps the article should have mentioned other manufacturers as well since consumers of PC components are also complicit. However, making an impact is really the point here, and that's best served by singling out a large and distinct customer base.

"Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?... So why the f*** doesn't it do that?" -- Steve Jobs

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