In China, human costs are built into iPads and tens of thousands of other non-Apple products

“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,” Charles Duhigg and David Barboza report for The New York Times. “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,” Duhigg and Barboza report. “More troubling, the groups say, is some suppliers’ disregard for workers’ health. Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to clean iPhone screens. Within seven months last year, two explosions at iPad factories, including in Chengdu, killed four people and injured 77. Before those blasts, Apple had been alerted to hazardous conditions inside the Chengdu plant, according to a Chinese group that published that warning.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: In the the full article, “Apple” was deployed 105 times (105 times!), “iPad” 12 times, “iPhone” nine times, and “iPod” once. That’s 139 Apple-related mentions in an article detailing conditions at Chinese, not Apple, companies that, oh by the way, also happen to assemble products for Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Lenovo, Motorola, Nokia, Sony, Toshiba and many, many, many other companies around the world. No, one short paragraph mentioning other companies by name once, doesn’t provide “balance.”

Singling out Apple and glossing over every other company doesn’t make you smart hit-whores, guys. It makes you slanted, biased, yellow journalists. But, of course, you do work for The New York Times, so that was to be expected.

The next time you transparent fools wonder why your circulation and employee numbers continue to plummet, just re-read this Take.

Apple insists that all of their suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes. Apple’s actions, from thorough site audits to industry-leading training programs, demonstrate this commitment.

Read more about supplier responsibility at Apple here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “The Scarbro” for the heads up.]


  1. More attempts by the vested big business bullies ( oil, Microsoft, Murdoch etc..) to derail and slow down the Apple train.

    All invested in their companies can’t stomach Apple’s success for fear that they’ll loose their promised returns – yes you read that right. Big investment firms get paid big bucks to put their clients into MSFT and the old business companies. They all but promise a gravy train for the good old boys investor’s. They got the Koch money working for them and Apple is NOT in that club…

  2. I am sick of these “slave” workers articles. For every Foxconn employee working, there are thousands who would give BLN to take their place. The facilities in Foxconn would be 5 star compared to their own village. Reminds me of another stupid article which complained that Indonesian workers working for Nike could not afford the shoes they make. Fact is, even if u give them a free Nike they would immediately sell it for the money n instead wear rubber slippers. Such “rights” are meaningless in a developing country. What is worse than being exploited is not having the opportunity to be exploited. I think Ghandi said that.

    1. When given a choice between starvation or slavery, many people choose to become slaves. I’m disturbed that this somehow justifies twenty first century slavery in your twisted little mind.

      I guess I’m not racist enough to comprehend why people in “developing countries” shouldn’t be entitled to life options besides slavery and starvation.

  3. Apple is also a global company selling to more than just the US. Suppose the US did impose a tariff…then people in the US wouldn’t buy at the higher prices and Apple would not sell as much in the US (and neither would Samsung, Dell, Etc.)

    The point about not having qualified workers hits home. There are factories in the small time where I live that would love to expand their operation, but can’t get enough qualified workers because the unemployed here are either lazy or can’t pass a drug test.

    1. What is your evidence that the “unemployed are either lazy or can’t pass a drug test?” All of them? Any? Statistics, first-hand experience? Since you’re so privy to the private life details of so many, why not become a pollster?

  4. I love Apple, but things need to change. From the article, quoting a former Apple Exec:

    “You can set all the rules you want, but they’re meaningless if you don’t give suppliers enough profit to treat workers well”

    Human life is worth more than insanely great profits.

  5. As bad as it is at Foxconn, living in the rural “sticks” on a subsistence diet with no healthcare, no way up in your area and a very short lifespan lets everyone in the sticks why it is so BLEAK.

    About 2 million people a month are leaving the sticks to go to various cities in China. That is a voluntary migration, that the government can NOT stop. China must encourage business startups and large scale manufacturing or there will be a revolution and their leaders have openly mentioned this.

    Readers here ought to be reminded what happened in the U.S. only 150 years ago in the decades following the Civil War when industrialization started. The U.S. had its turn at heavy manual labor with sometimes dangerous conditions in that period.

    Dangerous and life threatening conditions persisted up through the 1950s in the U.S. Ever have a guy in the family work on a “green chain” in a lumber mill. Failure to watch the boards coming out could mean one got thrown right through you. The U.S. needed jobs for all the returning soldiers or college to keep them busy.

    China is working to improve conditions as I see from contacts inside of plastic mold making & molding facilities in my work. You can’t do top notch work consistently with mid-upper skilled workers without good conditions. You can’t keep the expertise of fast handwork in lesser skilled work without getting better conditions.

    China is improving, probably about as fast as it can.

  6. For years government and private think-tanks with Wall Street had been encouraging industries to cut cost the easy way and take advantage of outsourcing their manufacturing to low-cost countries. Cut-throat competition was good for the consumer society in the US as the consumers can stretch out the value of their dollars and enjoy a high level of living by buying their products at low prices provided from cheap labor of third-world countries.

    The government did nothing to ensure that US industries are competitive but blindly go along with the recommendations of Wall Street and think-tanks that the prodigious appetite of the consumer society in the US can serve as an engine of growth and support for the world’s economy, and that the US should concentrate on services and abandon manufacturing to developing countries. US society will consume and the rest of the world will labor to meet this demand. So in order to compete, industry after industry took heed of Wall Street’s wisdom to outsource their manufacturing in order to save labor cost to the extent that all support industries were hollowed out and decimated.

    At that time there were no sanctimonious talk of slave labor. Everything was fine as long as long as the US consumers could consume cheaply but as soon as these “slave” countries become fierce competitors, many US companies who thought that they were smart found out that they couldn’t compete. Jobs lost through outsourcing never come back to the US. With the recession biting hard, there were bitter recriminations that successful companies like Apple were the cause of America’s problems.

    Oh how forgetful people’s memories are. All you greedy consumers, blame your own government and Wall Street for the mess and stop your sanctimonious posturing. Remember the saying: “Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad”.

  7. To hell with China. They just got through building their first aircraft carrier (spotted in a satellite photo) using the billions of dollars Americans send them by buying cheap stuff at Wal-Mart.

    It used to be, men would save up their money and buy a half-inch electric hand drill made by Rockwell or Milwaukee and keep it their entire life. Now they go to Wal-Mart, buy some piece of crap drill made in China, and keep on buying replacement drills made in China after the things break in three years.

    Instead of keeping valued things made in America and Germany and Italy, we’ve whored ourselves out to China by becoming serial consumers of disposable goods.

    1. Agreed. Im willing to pay a little more for Apple iPhone to be made here. It only cost $65 more to make it here! Yes really! Bring back tarriffs and incentives to offset the cost and reduce your margin slightly and still be profitable in the US. An int’l labor union is needed, or we will see the more of the same in China and start to see the same horrid work conditions here. If you read the NYT article and think its ok how they treat workers then u are a horrible human being. Imagine your daughter working in those slave conditions. Apple be a leader, set a new labor standard or tarnish your name further!

      1. ” It only cost $65 more to make it here”
        You miss the bigger picture that the factories and quantity of people required to make iPhones doesn’t exist in the US. What you MEANT to say was:
        “I’d wait 20 years for the US manufacturing infrastructure and education system to create conditions where iPhones in the millions can be created here!”

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