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Apple's Foxconn Plant Workers Complain of "Militant Culture"

By - Source: CNN | B 62 comments

CNN is the latest to interview an actual Foxconn worker who reveals her working conditions.

CNN is the latest to visit Foxconn factories contracted by Apple, and begins its report introducing readers to Miss Chen, an 18-year-old student from a village outside of the southern megacity of Chongqing whose name was changed for the story to protect her identity. She reportedly works over 60 hours a week assembling iPad tablets for Apple, but has never actually seen one of the popular gadgets fully assembled.

"Wow, I want it," Chen said when CNN produced a finish product for her inspection.

Miss Chen has allegedly been threatened by Foxconn, as well as all of her colleagues, not to talk to any reporter hence a "criminal liability [that] shall be investigated according to law." News of a media ban isn’t surprising given that local rights groups claim that Foxconn's stringent military-like culture is "one of surveillance, obedience and not challenging authority." Workers can either obey the rules or find a job elsewhere... if you can.

A poor college student with no work experience, Miss Chen told the network that she was offered a one-month position at Foxconn during the Spring Festival. She was promised great benefits and very little overtime. But once she arrived at the plant, she quickly discovered that only senior members receive benefits and sick leave time. She is also forced to work overtime on a regular basis.

"During my first day of work, an older worker said to me, 'why did you come to Foxconn? Don't ever think about it again and leave right now'," said Chen. "Foxconn employees have a saying, 'they use women as men and men as machines.'"

According to the report, Miss Chen's job is to apply more than 4,000 stickers a day onto iPad screens by hand. She's done this for the past three weeks, working over sixty hours per week in an assembly line. "It's so boring, I can't bear it anymore," she said. "Everyday is like: I get off from work and I go to bed. I get up in the morning, and I go to work. It is my daily routine and I almost feel like an animal."

Miss Chen, who believes humans are doing machine work because it's cheaper, plans to return to her studies at a Chongqing university soon. She's ready to head back and study hard so she'll never have to return to Foxconn again. She aspires to become a biologist, CNN reports.

Naturally Foxconn and Apple responded to the article. According to the former, the company takes its responsibility to employees very seriously. "We work hard to give our 1.2 million employees in China a safe and positive working environment and compensation and benefits that are competitive with all of our industry peers in that location," Foxconn states.

Apple claims that it cares about every worker in its worldwide supply chain. "We insist that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made," Apple said. "Our suppliers must live up to these requirements if they want to keep doing business with Apple."

The interview was reportedly conducted at a restaurant outside the factory. This was the first meal she had eaten outside the facility since she signed on as a worker. As previously reported, Foxconn workers eat, sleep and work within these "mega-facilities" without ever having to leave.

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Top Comments
  • 25 Hide
    de5_Roy , February 7, 2012 10:45 AM
    apple will let foxconn continue treat their employees as usual to keep up apple's morbidly obese profit margins. go foxconn!!
    (btw your motherboards suck)
  • 24 Hide
    law shay , February 7, 2012 10:32 AM
    My point is that U.S corporation with multi-million dollar as handy-cash (100% liquid cash) has the bargain power -- they just have to say, "if your workers conditions are not improved, we'll move to, say, Vietnam etc etc". Yet, they didn't do -- the executives at Apple is bloody heartless.

    Don't become a Heartless -- stop using the iCraps.
  • 22 Hide
    Anonymous , February 7, 2012 10:16 AM
    What do you pay when you buy the ipad? You don't pay for the salary of those people and I would be very surprise to know that it cost 700$ of parts to create an ipad... Seriously, what are we paying? Just for the logo on the ipad?

    Sorry, but I'm samsung and pc.
Other Comments
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  • 22 Hide
    Anonymous , February 7, 2012 10:16 AM
    What do you pay when you buy the ipad? You don't pay for the salary of those people and I would be very surprise to know that it cost 700$ of parts to create an ipad... Seriously, what are we paying? Just for the logo on the ipad?

    Sorry, but I'm samsung and pc.
  • 24 Hide
    law shay , February 7, 2012 10:32 AM
    My point is that U.S corporation with multi-million dollar as handy-cash (100% liquid cash) has the bargain power -- they just have to say, "if your workers conditions are not improved, we'll move to, say, Vietnam etc etc". Yet, they didn't do -- the executives at Apple is bloody heartless.

    Don't become a Heartless -- stop using the iCraps.
  • 25 Hide
    de5_Roy , February 7, 2012 10:45 AM
    apple will let foxconn continue treat their employees as usual to keep up apple's morbidly obese profit margins. go foxconn!!
    (btw your motherboards suck)
  • 17 Hide
    the real mr b , February 7, 2012 10:46 AM
    Apple offers average products at high prices. The only reason people buy it is because they've brainwashed the average consumer that it's cool to own their products. Apple is just really a genius marketing firm producing average products. Anyone that knows anything about computers will not buy an Apple product unless that person is making money from Apple somehow (selling, repairing/maintenance, app dev, etc.). It is an attractive customer base though, willing to spend big bucks to be "cool" so I kinda get the people that gets into this Apple "fashion" to make money. I'm saying fashion because if Apple ever loses it's cool factor, they will lose big market shares pretty quickly. They are sitting on unlimited billions now. I guess that's the definition of success?
  • 8 Hide
    house70 , February 7, 2012 10:50 AM
    The same work these people do could be done by an automated assembly line with human supervision. Problem is, that would cost Apple more money than using the "human machines". Besides, maintaining the robotic assembly line is costly, too; if a machine breaks down you have to fix it and get some non-productive time. With people, you can just fire the worker and replace him/her with the next in line waiting outside. Hence, it is much cheaper for Apple to use factories than employ such methods. Cheaper=more net revenue for Apple's execs and more money for bonuses and such.
    Cutting that amount by, say, ten percent would mean essentially nothing for Apple brass (what, can't live with 10% less out of a 7-8 figure income?), but would allow them to deploy a modern automated assembly line or even better, to relocate the assembly lines here in US. That would be a really healthy move for our economy, as well.
    But... have you seen a greedy a$$ exec take a pay cut when he/she didn't have to, just for the sake of the others (which, in turn, could actually benefit them, too)?
    Didn't think so.
  • 14 Hide
    iceman1992 , February 7, 2012 10:51 AM
    Quote:
    "We work hard to give our 1.2 million employees in China a safe and positive working environment and compensation and benefits that are competitive with all of our industry peers in that location," Foxconn states.
    B***s**t
  • -9 Hide
    nebun , February 7, 2012 11:10 AM
    china is a communist country, get used to it....what do they expect?.....if they want a different lifestyle they need to overthrow the government
  • 11 Hide
    DjEaZy , February 7, 2012 11:23 AM
    ... it seams like conspiracy... Steve is dead... and the floodgates are open... here are the list of other companies, that use foxconn...
    Acer Inc. (Taiwan)
    Amazon.com (United States)
    Apple Inc. (United States)
    ASRock (Taiwan)
    Asus (Taiwan)
    Barnes & Noble (United States)
    Cisco (United States)
    Dell (United States)
    EVGA Corporation (United States)
    Hewlett-Packard (United States)
    Intel (United States)
    IBM (United States)
    Lenovo (China)
    Microsoft (United States)
    MSI (Taiwan)
    Motorola (United States)
    Netgear (United States)
    Nintendo (Japan)
    Nokia (Finland)
    Panasonic (Japan)
    Samsung (South Korea)
    Sharp (Japan)
    Sony (Japan)
    Sony Ericsson (Japan/Sweden)
    Vizio (United States)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foxconn

  • 4 Hide
    olaf , February 7, 2012 11:31 AM
    atleast the robots shoud't complain for a while
  • -8 Hide
    molo9000 , February 7, 2012 11:39 AM
    Quote:
    Miss Chen, who believes humans are doing machine work because it's cheaper

    So? If a worker gets replaced by a machine, he or she won't have a job at all.

    It's easy for us to complain in the developed world with 35hour weeks and unemployment benefits, etc., but 100-150years ago we had sweatshops just like that. It's the natural development of things.
  • 7 Hide
    blazorthon , February 7, 2012 12:09 PM
    Is there anyone here whom actually thinks a single technology company is innocent? They all screw people over, especially the older companies. Normally I'd be hating on CNN to some extent, but they may have done something right here. This isn't the first report of Foxconn's apparent brutality against their employees, we've been being told about this for months, maybe even years by several people/groups.
  • 3 Hide
    freggo , February 7, 2012 12:12 PM
    What we need is a list of COUNTRIES using Foxcon !

    It seems that the US is one of they main customers according to DjEaZy list.

    Taiwan, China, Japan in there but prob to make sub products for final delivery to the USA as well.
  • -4 Hide
    freggo , February 7, 2012 12:14 PM
    OFF TOPIC QUESTION - sort off...

    Reading this and other articles I see my bandwidth SPIKE to almost 100%
    What the hell is the site sending ?


  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 7, 2012 12:16 PM
    Once again, a story about Foxconn and the only US tech company pointed out is Apple. Why not the disclosure about Microsoft and other big name companies as DjEaZy pointed out? Won't get the click-through you want? Seems from the article that these people can leave when they want and get another job, so are they being forced to work there under gunpoint? No. If it's so boring, then leave.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 7, 2012 12:33 PM
    You know what's funny? i read a article/report/editorial (don't really know what to call it) at either Cult of Mac or Forbes.com (can't remember clearly, think it was CoM), saying that Apple is totally awesome that it outsources the assembly of it's products. They said that look, each worker at foxconn gets like $10 per iphone, so their hardly paid, which is really cool because then most of the money goes to american workers and drives the american economy. Chinese workers are made to do jobs that "aren't worthy of a first-world country".

    Hypocritical Apple as usual?
  • 0 Hide
    djgene01 , February 7, 2012 12:40 PM
    I work 66 hours a week for $1133 a month
  • 11 Hide
    of the way , February 7, 2012 12:47 PM
    stargazerCTOnce again, a story about Foxconn and the only US tech company pointed out is Apple. Why not the disclosure about Microsoft and other big name companies as DjEaZy pointed out? Won't get the click-through you want? Seems from the article that these people can leave when they want and get another job, so are they being forced to work there under gunpoint? No. If it's so boring, then leave.


    For this article at least, the worker in question is working on an Apple product. So it makes sense to talk about Apple. Not that they should avoid mentioning other companies.

    In order to leave a job, you have to be able to get a different job, or have some savings to live on until you do. They don't get paid enough to save up money, and apparently getting a new job isn't that easy.
  • 1 Hide
    freggo , February 7, 2012 1:08 PM
    freggoOFF TOPIC QUESTION - sort off...Reading this and other articles I see my bandwidth SPIKE to almost 100%What the hell is the site sending ?


    Don't see why I'd get a Thumbs down for asking a legitimate question.
    But....

    If I read this page with the SeaMonkey Browser my bandwidth usage goes thru the roof, if I use Firefox all is normal.

    Anyone have an idea why that may be ?
  • 0 Hide
    robsreef , February 7, 2012 1:35 PM
    60 hours a week sitting on stool applying labels. May be boring, but it hardly sounds like slavery.

    I averaged 75.2 hours a week for 2011, building ships.
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