Friday, December 21, 2012

Investigation finds iPhone 5 workers treated brutally in China

Our friends at the Economic Policy Institute shared the findings of a French undercover investigation of conditions at Foxconn, the Chinese maker of Apple products.

EPI's Isaach Shapiro brought us a translation of the French, which tells us at Foxconn’s iPhone 5 factory in Zhengzhou:
  • Many workers are living in unfinished dorms that have no elevators, electricity, or running water.
  • Eight workers living in dorms with electricity were killed in a fire caused by workers plugging electronic devices into overloaded circuits, according to the reporters’ translation of a safety speech given by a Foxconn supervisor.
  • Student workers are still being forced to work there, including 16-year old students who said their teachers told them they would not earn their diplomas if they refused to participate in a three-month “internship” which amounted to assembly line work, including night shifts. The students also believed their scholarships were at risk. Their parents tried to stop this arrangement, to no avail.1
  • Wages are still substantially absorbed by payments back to the company for housing, insurance, and food, and work hours can still be excessively long.
Apple invited a group called the Fair Labor Association to conduct an earlier investigation. The FLA painted a rosy picture of reforms at Foxconn. Shapiro is skeptical. Read why here.