Apple iPod lifts generation of China’s workers out of poverty

“Is America’s gadget fixation lifting Asians out of poverty or pushing them deeper into it? That has been a question ever since press reports suggested that Apple Computer Inc.’s iPod music players are being assembled in sweatshop conditions in China,” Andy Mukherjee writes in an opinion piece for Bloomberg.

“Workers were being forced to toil for as little as $50 a month under Dickensian conditions, one commentator said. Poor Asians, mostly women, were caught in this vicious cycle because Americans are addicted to gizmos, another rued,” Mukherjee writes. “Amid the hysteria, Apple began its own audit of the factory, which is situated in China’s Shenzhen special economic zone and is owned by Foxconn Technology Group, a unit of Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.

“The findings, unveiled last month, are interesting,” Mukherjee writes. “Air-conditioned hostels, Apple’s auditors discovered, are available to workers free of charge; the dorms have TV rooms, free laundry, snooker tables and public telephones; the campus comes with soccer fields, a swimming pool, supermarkets, Internet cafes, banks, 13 restaurants and a hospital. There’s no child labor; no one is paid less than the locally mandated minimum wage; male and female employees are housed in separate dormitories; safety isn’t a concern. Everyone has medical coverage.”

Mukherjee writes, “The biggest complaint of workers: a lack of overtime opportunities during non-peak periods. This is a sweatshop?”

“None of this is to contend that Hon Hai workers in Shenzhen are living in a capitalist utopia. Work weeks are often longer than the stipulated 60 hours,” Mukherjee writes. “Accommodation is of considerably poorer quality for those workers who are forced to live outside the campus. After Apple published its audit report, Hon Hai said it would hire more workers and build more dormitories.”

“Hon Hai and Apple would surely keep their promises. The Taiwanese company has a market value of $31 billion, almost half that of Apple. That’s a lot of corporate reputation at stake,” Mukherjee writes. “The biggest winners will be the Chinese workers and their families. Millions of Asians have fed the American craving for consumer goods and crawled out of poverty within one generation, as the Hon Hai workers in China surely will.”

Full article here.
The nerve! How dare Mukherjee dilute ginned-up sensationalism with common sense pragmatism?!

Related articles:
iPod-manufacturer Foxconn drops lawsuit over iPod ‘sweatshop’ report – September 03, 2006
Chinese government orders iPod manufacturer Foxconn to let workers unionize – September 01, 2006
iPod-manufacturer Foxconn cuts damage claim to against journalists to 1 renminbi (US$0.13) – August 31, 2006
Apple ‘working behind-the-scenes’ to help resolve plight of Chinese ‘iPod sweatshop’ journalists – August 30, 2006
Apple asked to intercede on behalf of Chinese ‘iPod sweatshop’ reporters – August 29, 2006
Foxconn sues journalist, editor over iPod ‘sweatshop’ story – August 29, 2006
Apple releases ‘Report on iPod Manufacturing’ – August 17, 2006
Should Apple build its own factory in China to manufacture iPods? – July 03, 2006
iPod maker admits breaking Chinese labor laws; says Apple approved sweatshop labor – June 26, 2006
Apple begins ‘thorough audit’ of Foxconn iPod factory – June 20, 2006
Apple iPod manufacturer Foxconn sternly denies iPod sweatshop claims – June 19, 2006
Apple iPod ‘sweatshop’ story a ‘poorly researched sensationalist article’ – June 19, 2006
Apple rebuts Chinese iPod factory claims – June 13, 2006
iPods made in Chinese sweatshops? – June 13, 2006


  1. If we weren’t buying gizmos and soccer balls, millions of people in India and the far east would have any job. Especially that guy I could NOT understand answering the phone in India for

  2. If one looks back in history..

    …many groups of people have paid the price for economic gain and a better future for themselves and their children.

    Such is the nature of capitalism.

    Socialism on the other hand, which is pushed heavily by the Demoncrats, results in what we see in inner cities and New Orleans; crime, welfare housing and generations of people who beleive what you have belongs to everyone. Everyone consumes and nobody produces. New Zealand tried pure socialism and it failed badly.

    Capitalism works most of the time, people feel good when they work and are a contibution to society. Just they need to be motivated by their needs and wants.

    Sure there are times when one can’t work, which then a little socialism is needed, but it’s detrimental when everyone does it at the same time.

    So when you vote, remember to vote Republican for capitalism.

    And if the Republicans are not taking care of the workers, exploiting them, then vote Democratic to get them back in line again.

    Because pure capitalism isn’t good either.

    Don’t dwell on the mindless rethoric, gossip and insinuations of the hateful, vote for what sort of economic mindset is best for this country.

    85% captialism and about 15% socialism.

  3. I said it back when the iPod sweatshop scandal broke, and I’ll say it again: when you’re one of a population of a billion, you’re just glad to have a job. I think we do-gooding Westerners fret about this more than the labourers themselves do.

  4. Um mr “history teacher” the slums are from republicans rejecting and troding on the poor and uneducated. democrats try and lift them out of the muck you ‘elites’ shoved them down in. and the elite are responsible for the drug trade in the US too so thank your republican entrepreneur for the urban mess. three cheers for the CIA!! Oh and btw you can just shove your percentage guidlines up your ass–they dont work most places in the world. truth be told authoritarian rule is what ALL governments rule by. they only opperate in the guise of democracy. and now i think that ranting about politics is very boring and not worth anymore posts seeing as this isnt a governmental piece. so stfu.

  5. When are humans going to realize that quibbling with each other doesn’t work?

    I’ve been watching as the population of China has exploded, and always wondered…”how will they get themselves out of this one?”

    You all might want to refer to Lucy down there in Hell on this one. I’m pleaing the 5th.

  6. To be fair… America has a devastating poverty problem.. can you imagine all the money being wasted on Iraq (?!!) being spent on Americans?

    China, home to the worst poverty on Earth, needs more jobs, not less, anythiing to do with NIkes, IPods, whatever is good.. their laborforce is their biggest asset.. (frankly, their geography is pretty barren.. hence the hunger problems that have plagued the country for about 200 yrs)

    Americans need only walk down the street to see poverty, so why are they being so ‘outraged’ that other countries have poverty as well. The wages in China are not ‘exploitative’ they are the Chinese ADVANTAGE.

    Don’t feel sorry for the Chinese guys, maybe you should take that energy and start learning a new language… like Mandarin.. you’re gonna need it…

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  7. If all the money spent on Iraq were spent on the “poor,” their condition would probably get worse. Fewer would be working, more on the dole, more suffering from drug/alcohol addiction, more broken homes, etc., etc., etc. Yeah, a few wouldn’t be corrupted, but many would be. The reality is that many in the middle class in other parts of the world, even some parts of Europe, would love to live as well as many of the USA’s “poor.” The rapid improvement of many immigrants, even barely literate immigrants, demonstrates that many of the problems of the underclass are self-inflicted. That said, we should still all volunteer and give to charity, because there are ways to truly help through private charity and they are still human beings deserving of compassion.

  8. Quoting Kate: “The reality is that many in the middle class in other parts of the world, even some parts of Europe, would love to live as well as many of the USA’s “poor.”

    That’s a huge load of crap. By very definition, ‘middle class’ in virtually any society is better off than American ‘poor.’ Sorry, but you just need to get off your high horse, and come back down to ‘reality.’

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