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Low wages, long hours for iPod factory workers

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By LC Angell

Contributing Editor
Published: Monday, June 12, 2006
News Categories: iPod

The UK’s Mail on Sunday has published a report (not yet available online) that offers a look inside the Foxconn-owned iPod factories in China. Macworld UK says the newspaper’s report reveals that an iPod plant in Longhua houses 200,000 workers, who work 15-hour days for $50 per month. The workers reportedly live in dormitories that house 100 people each, and that outside visitors are not permitted. The Mail reports that the iPod nano is made in a five-story factory that is secured by police officers. The article also says that workers at an iPod shuffle factory in Shanghai are housed outside the plant, and earn $100 per month—but that they must pay for their housing and food, “which takes up half their salaries.”

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Comments

1

Out of curiosity then, how much does a decently paid factory worker in China make? Double those wages?

Posted by cerisier on June 12, 2006 at 6:48 AM (PDT)

2

And how is this different from just about every other manufactured product sold in the U.S.?

Posted by tt69 on June 12, 2006 at 6:51 AM (PDT)

3

Wow, talk about a scoop! And here I was, thinking iPod factories were the only place in asia where work would be decently managed.

Posted by JT on June 12, 2006 at 6:59 AM (PDT)

4

And how is this different from just about every other manufactured product sold in the U.S.?

It isn’t, at least for the stuff that comes out of China. Why do you think companies go there to begin with. Profit is GOOD. Maximizing profit is BETTER.

I mean, who really cares if these so-called ‘high-tech’ laborers can barely scrap by, if it means the rest of the wealthier world can have the (way overpriced, perhaps?) iPods.

Not all jobs are the sweatshop dregs in China; after all, they’re also enjoying a run of pure capitalistic consumerism. I hear Porsches, BMWs, Aston Martins and Ferraris sell quite well over there. But then again, not all that boom is as widespread and is as shared by many as it seems, either.

Posted by flatline response on June 12, 2006 at 7:03 AM (PDT)

5

HILARIOUS!!! People complain that iPods cost too much, then complain when they find out _how_ the costs are kept down. Try making them in a unionized factory in the states or Canada and see how much they cost. Without third world there is no first world. As long as four year old kids aren’t chained to desk, that’s fine. That’s capitalism (which you enjoy) at its best. Idiots.

Posted by Warren Piece on June 12, 2006 at 7:03 AM (PDT)

6

Yeah as bad as this is, i think there’s more than one company over there that has this kind of work life

Posted by Kevin on June 12, 2006 at 7:15 AM (PDT)

7

I am shoked, but I have to agree eith Warren Piece. Without the third world there is no first world. I think I am in the second. I am from ex-Yu (southern Europe), and things are here better, but not as much as it should be.

Posted by Pilot on June 12, 2006 at 7:37 AM (PDT)

8

food there is cheap though, it’s about 10 cents per meal

Posted by hoho on June 12, 2006 at 7:39 AM (PDT)

9

“Without third world there is no first world. As long as four year old kids aren’t chained to desk, that’s fine. That’s capitalism (which you enjoy) at its best. Idiots.”

yes the time is ripe for revolution!
time for some major redistribution of the wealth for everybody. solidarity is the way to think and socialism is the way to go

Posted by dammskog on June 12, 2006 at 7:41 AM (PDT)

10

Good Stuff—Now if we can just get some cheap oil from china.  I do think it’s funny how if certain other companies came out with this same kind of business ethic, they’d be tied up and hung, but apple and steve jobs can do no bad.  Funny stuff.

Posted by eq on June 12, 2006 at 7:45 AM (PDT)

11

I mean, who really cares if these so-called ‘high-tech’ laborers can barely scrap by, if it means the rest of the wealthier world can have the (way overpriced, perhaps?) iPods

I don’t think this report is fair. While I understand your point, flatline, I think that if they are going to discredit ONE company’s use of cheap labour, they might as well discredit them ALL. Not that I defend them, but Apple is NOT the only company that uses cheap chinese labour, there are way too many to name.

Posted by ahMEmon on June 12, 2006 at 7:50 AM (PDT)

12

yes Apple is not the only one. life is unfair, get over it! i get paid way more than those ppl but 3/4 of my paycheck is for paying the rent, student loans and other stupid bills. we are all slaves in this world in one form or another.

Posted by slayer on June 12, 2006 at 8:14 AM (PDT)

13

It is fair because Apple’s “hippie dippie, we’re the everyman’s product” image invites it. I don’t expect my faceless Western Digital hard drive to be made with ethics. I don’t actually expect my iPod either since I don’t believe any of Apple’s hype, but since Apple spends millions annually to create a certain image, you can’t fault someone who wants to reveal the truth of the emperor’s clothing.

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on June 12, 2006 at 8:16 AM (PDT)

14

So they make $100 a month, but spend half that on food and housing. 

Who doesn’t spend half their salary on food and housing and transportation?

Posted by good grief on June 12, 2006 at 8:37 AM (PDT)

15

NIKE + APPLE

MAKING THE WOLRD A BETTER PLACE!

Posted by Real Reply on June 12, 2006 at 8:45 AM (PDT)

16

Has there ever been a news post that has spawned as many responses borne of ignorance, stupidity and just plain insensitivity as this? No, I didn’t think so.

Posted by Margk on June 12, 2006 at 8:51 AM (PDT)

17

I don’t think that this is any different to other manufacturers. That’s why everyone moves to Asia, cheaper manufacting because workers are exploited.

I’m sure that now it’s come out two things will happen - iPod competitors wil say how well they pay their workers and Apple will say that they didn’t know and are doing something about it.

Posted by craigb6 on June 12, 2006 at 8:58 AM (PDT)

18

Wow. So much hostility. Do we really feel obligated to defend Apple. They’re a megacorporation. Are we naive enough to believe they’re governed by a strong sense of morality? It’s about profit. Period.

The problem over in the 3rd world is much bigger than Apple. I admit I was surprised. I wondered why on earth I paid 300 for my iPod. But, I still love my iPod and will still enjoy Apple products.

Nonetheless, I’m not going to defend them. Let Apple defend themselves. Let’s see what they say.

Posted by praetor on June 12, 2006 at 9:09 AM (PDT)

19

work like this is just another step to modernization. americans worked like this in the 1800s and 1900s and now other countries are catching up. the similarities are striking, the ny times the other day ran a story about china’s factory towns - the descriptions are eerily similar to the US a hundred years ago. while unenjoyable, cheap labor will bring rapid growth, which brings money into that country. it’s a process that will do more good than bad.

Posted by jm on June 12, 2006 at 9:17 AM (PDT)

20

The Mail on Sunday is a vile little tory rag for middle-class, Thatcherites everywhere. The only positive stories it carries concern the property price boom and snotty-nosed school kids overachieving at their 10K-a-term private schools.

That they should be banging the drum for the exploited factory worker is deeply ironic.

Posted by yashin on June 12, 2006 at 9:24 AM (PDT)

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