Skip to comments.In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad
Posted on 01/26/2012 6:41:25 AM PST by Leroy S. Mort
The explosion ripped through Building A5 on a Friday evening last May, an eruption of fire and noise that twisted metal pipes as if they were discarded straws. When workers in the cafeteria ran outside, they saw black smoke pouring from shattered windows. It came from the area where employees polished thousands of iPad cases a day.
In the last decade, Apple has become one of the mightiest, richest and most successful companies in the world, in part by mastering global manufacturing. Apple and its high-technology peers — as well as dozens of other American industries — have achieved a pace of innovation nearly unmatched in modern history. However, the workers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices often labor in harsh conditions, according to employees inside those plants, worker advocates and documents published by companies themselves. Problems are as varied as onerous work environments and serious — sometimes deadly — safety problems.
Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk. Under-age workers have helped build Apple's products, and the company's suppliers have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and falsified records, according to company reports and advocacy groups that, within China, are often considered reliable, independent monitors.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
CBS also takes a swipe at Apple: What Apple says about the State of the Union:
Obama thinks that tax incentives and a more educated workforce will bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. Apple claims that outsourcing manufacturing overseas is its only option. Both are spinning stories. Neither this country (nor any other) can reverse the economic and social forces driving jobs overseas, or eliminating them altogether. Yet companies, particularly high-tech ones, could bring jobs back -- only they don't want to....
And let’s not forget that the ChiComs pay no regard whatsoever to environmental regulations and show no regard for the environment.
If America could employ slave labor and paid no regard to the environment, I suppose we could “compete” with China’s robust manufacturing ability as well.
Of course, even with these two major advantages, the economy in China is imploding and they are about to have a serious situation trying to take care of and control their population.
Costco had been importing gray market watches from Europe, and selling them in the United States for nearly half the retail price encouraged through the watch maker's US arm. They sued Costco for copyright infringement, as the watches they sold in the US bore a different (and tiny) mark on the case, and the ones Costco were selling didn't bear that same exact mark.
Apple is doing the same thing. US market iItems bear marks that are slightly different than the marks on products sold overseas. More significantly, however, is the ability to instantly add a particular mark for the US market, and through this, they have the ability to ensure that no distribution chain OTHER than Apple can sell iProducts in the US, as well as setting specific requirements on their retailers including minimum price floors.
It is why Nintendo isn't made here, why XBox isn't made here, why virtually every popular consumer product isn't made here - so that there is no ability for an open, free and competitive market to pressure the company into lowering prices.
No tech company is coming back to the United States until the First Purchase doctrine is applied to ALL products, manufactured in or outside the United States.
Thanks for posting.
I found some very interesting comments about ‘enlightened self interest’ at your link to the CBS article.
‘Enlightened self interest’ or Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ (”... By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain; and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention...”) are no longer in play under ‘Globalism’, and ‘Free Trade’ since large international corporations are run by those who no longer see themselves as citizens of the US but as citizens of the world.
“And lets not forget that the ChiComs pay no regard whatsoever to environmental regulations and show no regard for the environment.
If America could employ slave labor and paid no regard to the environment, I suppose we could compete with Chinas robust manufacturing ability as well.”
Good observations there.
An excerpt from the original article (I read all 7 pages):
“Banners on the walls warned the 120,000 employees: Work hard on the job today or work hard to find a job tomorrow. Apples supplier code of conduct dictates that, except in unusual circumstances, employees are not supposed to work more than 60 hours a week. But at Foxconn, some worked more, according to interviews, workers pay stubs and surveys by outside groups. Mr. Lai was soon spending 12 hours a day, six days a week inside the factory, according to his paychecks. Employees who arrived late were sometimes required to write confession letters and copy quotations. There were continuous shifts, when workers were told to work two stretches in a row, according to interviews.”
I was not a stranger in my career to long days on the job, coming from a railroad environment where one can easily work 6, 7, 8 or 9 “shifts” a week (or even more), and where 72 hour weeks are normal (you can leave for work at 10pm one night and not get back ‘til almost two days later).
But reading the excerpt, and thinking back to how work conditions were here in _this country_ in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it’s not hard to understand why workers had little choice but to look to unions to better their conditions when no alternative course seemed available to them.
For the exact same reasons, we are now seeing pushes for unionization of Chinese workers, and in some cases (I’m thinking of musical instrument production) this is pushing up the cost of the finished goods.
Interestingly, the companies here in America that seem to be successful in keeping away the union monster also seem to treat their workers much better. I’m thinking of outfits like Toyota and Honda, which run large operations both in the South and also up north (Honda is big in Ohio). Maybe those jobs dont pay quite as much as “union scale”, but the work is better as well as the employees’ futures....