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Foxconn factory in China  (Source:
According to Apple executives and Foxconn management, safety is the last thing on Apple's mind

For hardcore Apple fans, rushing out to buy the next iPhone or iPad is a top priority -- even if it means standing in line for hours. But in the words of an anonymous former Apple executive, most people would be disturbed if they knew where their iPhone came from.

Apple's history with suppliers that are abusive to their employees is no secret. Foxconn and Wintek are among Apple's electronics suppliers that have factories in China with horrible working conditions, but no matter how many times violations of Apple's supplier code of conduct are brought to light, the situation remains the same. Now, The New York Times has taken a closer look at the bleak environment that the employees of Apple's Asian suppliers are forced to deal with in its second installment of its iEconomy series.

Apple's supplier code of conduct, which was developed in 2005, states "that working conditions in Apple's supply chain are safe, that workers are treated with respect and dignity, and that manufacturing processes are environmentally responsible." While this code was made with good intentions, it is not being upheld entirely by Apple or some of Apple's suppliers. Employees have complained of working long hours, unsafe working conditions and little pay -- all in the name of assembling iPhones, iPads and iPods at a rapid pace.

"You can either manufacture in comfortable, worker-friendly factories, or you can reinvent the product every year, and make it better and faster and cheaper, which requires factories that seem harsh by American standards," said a current Apple executive, who requested anonymity due to the sensitive topic. "And right now, customers care more about a new iPhone than working conditions in China."

Foxconn, which is Apple's electronics supplier in Chengdu, China, is one of the worst offenders of Apple's supplier code of conduct. Employees and worker advocates have both described the horrible conditions that workers must endure. Many work over 60 hours per week, putting in an obscene amount of overtime. Some work 12 hours per day, six days or more per week. Signs on the walls of Foxconn offer reminders such as, "Work hard on the job today or work hard to find a job tomorrow." There are 24-hour shifts, and 70,000 of the employees are crammed into tiny dorms when they have some time off. At times, about 20 workers would be stuffed into a three-bedroom apartment. There were also issues with the employment of under-age workers.

As if exhaustion and crowded living spaces weren't enough, the conditions within the actual factory were well below satisfactory. Aluminum dust clouded the Foxconn factories due to machines that polished iPad cases, and the factories had poor ventilation systems. A Hong Kong advocacy group called Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior published a warning, which was sent to Apple, to let the company know about the potential dangers of aluminum dust buildup.

The warning clearly went unnoticed, since two Foxconn factories exploded as a result of the aluminum dust. The first occurred in May 2011 in Foxconn's Chengdu factory, which killed four people and injured another 77. The second occurred in Shanghai and ended up injuring 59 workers while hospitalizing another 23.

The explosions weren't Foxconn's only high-profile issues over the last few years. In 2010, Foxconn's Shenzhen factory, which is responsible for Apple's iPods, iPhones and iPads, experienced a series of employee suicides due to the stressful and exhausting working conditions. There were at least 12 suicides during this time period as well as a riot. To address the issue, Foxconn made employees promise not to kill themselves and installed anti-suicide nets at its facilities.

"Conditions at Foxconn are anything but harsh," wrote Foxconn in a statement after the riot. "All assembly line employees are given regular breaks, including one-hour lunch breaks. Foxconn has a very good safety record. Foxconn has come a long way in our efforts to lead our industry in China in areas such as workplace conditions and the care and treatment of our employees."

Even Apple seemed to defend its supplier's factories overseas. Steve Jobs, former Apple CEO, made the factories sound like theme parks.

"I actually think Apple does one of the best jobs of any companies in our industry, and maybe in any industry, of understanding the working conditions in our supply chain," said Jobs. "I mean, you go to this place, and, it's a factory, but, my gosh, I mean, they've got restaurants and movie theaters and hospitals and swimming pools, and I mean, for a factory, it's a pretty nice factory."

Jobs' statement seems to contradict the company's own audits, though. Apple has been publishing audits of its supplier's factories since 2007, and completed 396 walkthroughs by last year. Each year, there have been several and consistent violations to Apple's supplier code of conduct. For instance, in 2007, Apple completed three dozen audits where two-thirds demonstrated employees working over the 60 hour limit. There were also cases of underage workers, falsified records, improper disposal of hazardous waste and cases where workers were paid below minimum wage (or even nothing at all) as punishment.

"Apple never cared about anything other than increasing product quality and decreasing production cost," said Li Mingqi, a former Foxconn Technology manager at the Chengdu factory. "Workers' welfare has nothing to do with their interests."

Source: The New York Times

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RE: Waiting for the ironic comment
By AdamChew on 1/27/2012 9:56:46 PM , Rating: 2
Just because you lay out your figures so you think it is easy to do.

If it is so simple why HP and Dell are not doing it.

Cut the crap that Apple can afford it. have you consider that the 4S has the same design as the 4 and it is riding on the RD of the 4 and Apple has saved a bundle on the design and RD.

Why not you do something and not talk and talk is cheap.

Why not petition HP or Dell to do their manufacturing in the US.

But then it makes my day to see so much envy and hate for a company which 10 years ago was on its death bed.

Yes then no one cares they are bleeding cash.

So why the interest now.

Btw taking care of the people is the government's job and not Apple's and Apple don't owe you a living and if you need to cry go and cry at your government representative for not doing enough to create jobs.

One last thing why don't you scream at the banks and banksters for bring the US economy to its knees with their trade in CDOs and what have you. Today's predicament is brought on them them.

Yes these guys pay themselves obscene salaries and that's what you called greed. Now what have they done to improve the economy - nothing and they don't even lend each other money because they fear the other guy may just go out of business.

Climb down from that high horse and look yourself in the mirror before you accuse others of not doing enough and no one owes you a living.

By MrBlastman on 1/28/2012 12:31:12 AM , Rating: 1
Wow. I don't know what to say. Your post is hilarious in so many ways.

First, learn some grammar and sentence structure.

Why not you do something and not talk and talk is cheap.

I would but uhh guess what? I'm not a. Working for a tech company, b. Not in a manufacturing industry and c. Apple never offered me a job as CEO so--I can't. Nice try in an empty argument.

But then it makes my day to see so much envy and hate for a company which 10 years ago was on its death bed.

I have no envy for Apple. I dislike their products and moreso dislike how they charge a premium for a product that does LESS than my PC or other devices can do--while forcing me to submit to limitations on their platforms they place there to control the end-user.

Their products have done nothing but piss me off in the past... well, ever since the Apple IIe became ancient. I have no need or use for Apple products in my life. I do just fine without them.

Btw taking care of the people is the government's job

This is your opinion. In my opinion, taking care of the people is the PEOPLE's job. NOT the Government. The Government's only role is to defend our borders and enforce the rule of law. That's it. Nothing else. I don't believe we the people should rely on the Government for everything.

Climb down from that high horse

High horse? Where? In order for me to BE on a high horse I'd first have to claim I'm better than everyone else (or a group). I'm not. Where I am at is surveying the situation and providing my two cents on what might better everyone else.

That's not a high horse. Look it up.

"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken

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