The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Apple’s Shameless Exploitation of Chinese Workers

Mar 5, 2012

Tim Cook, Apple CEO, recently claimed, “We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain.” Yes – we can see exactly how the Steve Jobs-founded company cares.

Apple contracts out work to dozens of firms who assemble Apple computers, the iPhone and the iPad, especially in Asia, where even skilled manpower costs a lot less than in the U.S. and is more flexible.

In China, almost 700,000 workers work in assembly plants for Apple contractors, in different stages of production, for a wage of $15 a day, six days a week, 12 hours a day. Their working conditions are very hard, to the extent that in some cases, “their legs swell until they can hardly walk.”

A large number of the workers live within company buildings, packed in collective dormitories, in order to be available if needed. For example, one night due to a sudden modification in an assembly line, 8,000 workers were awakened in the middle of the night, given just a cookie and a cup of tea, and were sent to assemble glass screens on phones. There are banners on a factory wall saying, “Work hard on the job today or work hard to find a job tomorrow.”

The biggest Apple contractor is the Taiwanese company Foxconn, which makes 40% of all electronics in the world. Foxconn has many factories where it assembles the iPhone. Each of these factories is a virtual city, with 230,000 workers. In Foxconn factories, vapors from chemicals have poisoned workers. Explosions due to aluminum dust released when the phones were polished killed workers and wounded hundreds. In 2010, a wave of suicides led to large, angry demonstrations.

Apple may pretend to know nothing about this. But the workers laboring for Apple in China will remember how the corporation treats them right up to the day their anger explodes.