Something Rotten At Apple?

Look, I am an Apple fan – I really do like my iPhone and have stuck with the “4” for a couple of years. What I do have some issues with is the company itself and the fact that over the years we have read much about the mistreatment of workers at their Foxconn plant in China.

 

We reported over a year ago about worker suicides at the plant because of poor conditions and treatment of the workers. Underpaid and overworked was the theme and Apple promised to do something about it – and they did by increasing salaries for the workers which were higher than other Chinese factories. It still begs the point that while they threw a few dollars at the workers to slightly increase their pay the monotony of the job still at low pay was an issue.

 

But things quieted down as we figured it would – Apple has a way to seemingly control their bad press. Until recently when because of high demand for the new iPhone the workers were pushed to their limits of production and riots ensued at the Foxconn factory. Last week it was also reported that some laborers being used to assemble iPhones were as young as 14-years-old. What child labor laws?

 

Well, here is the issue that I have that may spark some commentary. Apple is not the only company outsourcing so they can make their products as cheaply as possible and sell it for as much as possible. What do you think it costs over in China to make our $600 iPhone? The margins on these electronics is incredible and THESE are the types of manufacturing jobs that should be brought back to the USA. Not assembling dollar store merchandise that NEEDS to be made super cheaply – but items like what Apple sells and what Coach handbags sells. I read today that Coach is considering moving their operations out of China because the wages are too high! The average factory worker makes less than $200 a MONTH! A typical Coach Handbag can sell for $1500 or more. How many handbags can a laborer make in an entire month?

 

GREED is what it is all about. How come when the politicians are squawking about outsourcing and how America’s losing jobs they are not citing companies like Apple or Coach or the others who profit by selling millions of dollars of goods to good old Americans. These high end brands can more readily afford to move jobs back to the USA because they have the margins. It really just comes around to making money- and as much of it as possible. I have nothing against making money and understand the buy low, sell high theory. It annoys me when both Presidential candidates bandy about bringing home the jobs from overseas and do not cite anything specific.

 

Obviously Americans are not going to work for $50 a week in a factory – but there was a time pre-China, pre-Vietnam and pre-Indonesia where American factories did hire Americans and paid a fair wage for their services. Outsourcing is not going away and until we figure out what kind of jobs should return to America it’s a great deal of rhetoric.

 

What do you think?

 

WHILE WE READ OUR IPADS, CHINESE FACTORY WORKERS COMMIT SUICIDE

Well, in America’s never-ending search for more profits through exploitation, a rash of suicides has broken out at the Shenzhen, China factory where ipads are being made. While we leisurely read our books on the $500+ devices, the Chinese assembly line workers (250,000 of them) toil to keep up with the production of the units.

 

In doing so, it appears that the stress and monotony of the job has caught up with at least ten of the plant’s employees, who committed suicide. Maybe if we delve into the working conditions we can understand things better. First off, conversation on the assembly lines is prohibited. Workers are given a 10-minute bathroom break every two hours, and the workers are yelled at frequently by management.

 

Sounds like wonderful working conditions. But, of course let us remember that these factory workers are lucky to be making the ipads because they are being paid much more than workers at other factories…$293 a month! Imagine, two months of round-the-clock work to even think about buying an entry-level ipad! Oh, they are treated real nice there!

 

The workers are put up in living dormitories as many as 8 to a room. The 1.16 square mile facility run by Foxconn has its own hospital and restaurants — everything you need to keep the workers on base. But let’s not think that the company isn’t being proactive when it comes to the suicides… we have learned that Foxconn has recently installed netting around the outdoor stairwells of the dorms to prevent people from jumping. Well done, problem solved! And, in the Corporate America way to resolve any problem — they will throw some money at it by increasing wages for the employees around 30%. Good deal.

 

Just another example of corporations squeezing profits on the backs of others. With two million ipads sold within 60 days, Apple has been seemingly able tobuy two workers for an entire month for less than the cost of one entry-level ipad. So, read your books, enjoy yourself this summer knowing that the nets will be there to catch the employees who assembled your reading device!