ABC News ‘Nightline’ airs report on Foxconn factories (with video)

“Nightline has aired its report from Foxconn’s factories on ABC,” Joshua Topolsky reports for The Verge.

“In the report, host Bill Weir speaks directly to factory workers as well as their managers. You would think that this ‘unprecedented’ look inside Apple factories would reveal much we didn’t know, but the show was relatively light on information,” Topolsky reports. “Weir did extensively survey the places where iPads and iPhones are constructed, spent time interviewing both employees and their families, and talked to FLA president Auret van Heerden, though he uncovered mostly familiar information.”

Full article, with a list of the most interesting facts in bullet point form, here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yawn. FUD, Inc. has lost its touch.

Related article:
ABC News granted exclusive access to Apple supplier Foxconn’s factories, to air report Feb. 21st – February 18, 2012

38 Comments

  1. Working conditions:
    – 12 hour shift, with 2 hours for lunch and rest or a nap
    – US$1.78 an hour. I don’t know if it includes the 2 hours lunch
    – US$0.70 per meal
    – US$17.50 mo. for a place to live, shared with others
    – Does not know if they have a free day

    If they pay just 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, discounting meal and bed costs, each of them get some US$420.74.

    In Mexican Pesos, that represents some MX$5,469.62 or MX$1,272.00. More or less 3 quotes of minimum wage stablished here.

    I think the FLA should came to Mexico, not China.

    Shit happens, sometimes®

  2. well, i never understood the big fuss:
    1. why single out Apple, when every f’g western manufacturer has asian factories and it’s obviously that these competitors are so incompetent to compete with Apple, that they bribe journalists & bloggers to spread fud or diarrhea. any time someone is singled out, you should think again: there must be hypocrites among them. they are better cheaters as they hide things more methodically. so–whose your immoral daddy?

    2. suicide has nothing to do with working conditions. if we stop being so dramatic & jump to conclusions, if we check facts & history for once, before we open our big all-knowing mouths, we’d learn something once in a while. it is more of a cultural phenomenon in the far east, esp. japan & china, where shame of being found out or of screwing up or failing at some level, is the cause of suicide. we do not understand this depth of shame in the west, as we have no shame. we prove it through our arrogance, our capitalism, our history of colonization like no other people on earth, even our fake democracies a la 1984 control & hypocritical political correctness that is morally incorrect, or by disinfo & inventing enemies or wars.

    we are disgusted by Clinton’s blow job, yet have no moral problem by invading innocent people’s lives, inventing unnecessary wars etc. wow. such moral strengths. at least Clinton did a good job as ruler. at least Apple is honest, open and gives more than all other corporations. both deserve more respect. why not check how other firms lie for a change?

      1. oh boy.
        i just said why.

        1. have you been in china, let alone many factories?
        who tells you they have no nets-western media?!
        2. if Foxconn has nets it’s not due to apple, ok. it’s fox’s choice and they’d certainly have nets before they manufactured for apple. they will have nets for other firms that manufacture through them. maybe Apple insisted on nets but other firms who use foxconn do not wish to waste money on nets?!
        3. it’s all neither here nor there, you jump to conclusions like all others.
        4. suicide is not cultural. we have suicided here too. but, it is cultural for them, to feel shame. it is a source of extreme pressure, yes. they did not have psychiatrists until recently or use jail as prevalently as us. their societal pressure redefined their behaviors…

        1. im asking a simple question.

          If the claim is that suicides are cultural, then I’d be curious how many other companies have nets?

          Or is this one more area where foxconn is “above average”??

          1. So lets see now. The suicide rate is a lot lower in FOXCONN than in the rest of china, and indeed even the USA. But you want us to think this is somehow a negative. Hmmmmm, and the nets stopping someone doing harm to themselves is somehow a bad thing too….right?

            Yes you ask simple question. But you also have a simple mind to go with your simple questions. Try thinking just a bit before engaging keyboard.

        2. btw I do not place any blame on Apple with conditions at Foxconn. They appear to be the only manufacturer who is actively trying to improve conditions in the factory, perceived or real.

      2. From what I’ve heard in the media they’ve had a couple dozen suicides in the recent past. For a company with a million employees that doesn’t sound like an emergency.

        My (wealthy, western) city has about a million citizens, and I bet there are a similar number of suicides.

        We’re just not familiar with hearing about a company with a million employees. How many suicides would you have in an American University if it had a million students?

        1. “My (wealthy, western) city has about a million citizens, and I bet there are a similar number of suicides.”

          Actually, if you’re on the average for the US, it would be around 120!

      3. well, if you’re curious how other manufacturers are doing with suicide, it matters not if they have nets. if you are suicidal you will find a way.

        the point is not superficial. it’s to eliminate the source for suicide. who cares what physical precautions are taken.

        if you have a problem with the nets, well, it will make it easier to jump & die. what’s your real concern?

        any worker in any factory or even cubicle job anywhere has the capacity to commit suicide – when it’s so methodical, routine, monotonous, boring, mechanical, robotic etc. we all suffer.

        there is no proof that Foxconn or Apple’s part of Foxconn is more suicide-prone.

        plus staff react differently for the same conditions no matter where in the world. one can not predict suicide. unless one is not just watched constantly by Big Brother but psychologists/psychoanalysts. who wants that type of life standard?!

        all in all, it has nothing to do with Apple.
        it has to do with culture & individual choices.
        as long as the manufacturer gives basic human needs. if Foxconn does not, they most probably do under Apple, as the documentary shows.

        even if the documentary by ABC is slanted, it’s would be slanted by any firm using Chinese labor. but come on, do you seriously think Apple is abusive that way?!

      4. “How many other companies in China have nets installed to catch jumpers”

        your question is irrelevant because nearly all the manufacturers use Foxconn (they make about 40% of the world’s electronics). Microsoft, HP, Panasonic, Nintendo etc etc all use foxconn so they are all part of the net thing.

        the recent suicide threat on the roof (shown on the video but not explained) was on Microsoft Xbox line.

        foxconn had 18 sucides a year out of a million workers.
        suicide for U.S college campuses last year was 60 per million. (both populations about the same age groups)

        http://www2.dailyprogress.com/news/2011/nov/07/uva-study-suicide-leading-cause-death-us-college-s-ar-1442361/

        by those stats American colleges are greater hell holes than foxconn… ?

        as the FLA has said there’s a lot of stress on workers who have moved from their families and often rural areas to live and work at factories (and not just at foxconn). Having lived and worked in Asia I have to agree that the cultures are also different (in Japan there are often stories of even senior well paid execs committing suicide for failure. The average Japanees suicide rate is around 200 per million vs 18 for foxconn ). I suspect a lot of workers in foxconn besides feeling alienated in new surrounding also feel tremendous pressure from the need to support their familes etc.

        also the payment of large life insurance even for suicides might have been a factor. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foxconn_suicides). I believe Foxconn cut the payments and the suicides dropped.

        suicides are tragic but it seems foxconn and apple are trying to do something about it: nets, counselling, pay raises etc.

      1. haha, that’s a good catch.
        but imagine: doing a good job in the white house, not a freakin’ church, + getting a good job done, all simultaneously. great president ; )

        at least he had the balls ; )
        it’s not our biz what he does in private anyway. he did & got his job done…

  3. So about $480/month.
    As opposed to about $480/year for many in that region.
    (or as forrestforrestgump points out above, it’s about $420/month after food & “rent”).

    It sounds poor to us, but many people around the world would be happy to have the work.

    15 years ago I started my career at about triple that pay, but in an average American city my rent was over $600/mo.

    1. exactly.
      that is my point.
      walk the talk people.
      don’t jump to conclusions like a wuss.
      be a man.
      have principles.
      get your facts right before you open that fat mouth.
      at least, travel the world, don’t spend your whole life in your own land, state, town, village, home, so you learn how others live and that our principles or way of life or standards are not theirs and we have no right to judge other cultures.

      at least they have a job.
      at least they are grateful.
      whilst we lost our economy to bitching instead of creating.
      they are not lazy.
      they are willing to work harder than us.

      their value of salary is not ours.
      but soon will be if we keep talking instead of walking.

    2. Given the living conditions and setting that aside. How many American’s, living on minimum wage, after food and rent, have $480 a month? Also is this $480 disposable income? What about other living costs, such as laundry and hygiene? We get paid more, as a whole, but we have to pay more to live.

      As an example, considering disposable income, living in one part of the US, you can earn wage X and sustain a certain lifestyle. Whereas moving to another part of the US, you must earn 2X, due to costs of living, and yet still struggle to maintain the same lifestyle, because all else costs more.

      I am not saying these young adults in China are driving cars and such, but if they don’t have to, or if culture does not demand it, how can we equate our livelihood.

      Since they didn’t seem to find older workers, and not all people get to go to collage, as we promote in the west, maybe this is what young adults do, before they settle down. What’s the alternative, if the factories didn’t exist?

      Scientists say that the laws of physics are constant throughout the universe. However unlike physics, finances are only measurable at the local scale, and by local, I mean within a 20 mile radius.

      1. Travelling the world I’ve met people who live a happy, fulfilled life making less than $500 PER YEAR.

        Now they had good clean drinking water and productive land. And if they ever needed to rely on a health care provider their only option was a clinic in the next town. Still, the point is as danilko1 said above — that earnings, and the lifestyle it enables, can only be understood in the local context.

        Just because the practically illiterate couple across the street from me can earn enough to have a 3500 square foot house and a couple of Mercedes as real estate agent, doesn’t mean the rest of the world can expect similar.

  4. I’ve been on so many development/production trips to China that I lost count years ago… I’ve even stayed in the dorms (had my own room though).

    This looks like an above average deal here, based on my experience. Is it boring work? Sure.

    The question he asked “what do you think about when you do this?” was pretty dumb. What does any factory worker anywhere think about when doing a repetitive task like that?

    What does a worker at Ford think about when he’s installing shift knobs all day? What does a data entry person think about when entering addresses all day?

    The wages sound low to people from most other countries, but that’s actually quite high and you could do quite a bit with that in China. When I’d travel to China my per diem (daily expense money) was $75 USD… Had I actually tried to spend that much, it would be like Brewster’s Millions. I’d have to really go out of my way and look crazy to drop that kind of money on a daily basis.

    I’m not saying everything is fine, don’t worry about it. The only thing I never liked about China factories is the longer work days (compared to the USA and others), and the fact that they typically work six (not seven) days per week. On the other hand some workers prefer to work more and get the money, just like everywhere else… Except you can’t really milk it like you can in other countries.

    If the workers were allowed to opt for an extra day off, or an hour less per day that would be fine. But you know who would give them the most crap about taking it? Not the factory, but the other workers. That’s just their culture.

    You’d really need to go there and spend some time at a factory and in the culture before you can make any accurate assessments. As is the case with most things in life.

      1. There’s another point I’d like to address… Suicides.

        Any suicide is tragic of course. Very, very sad.

        All cultural references and job descriptions aside, suicide is everywhere.

        China is at 22.23 suicides per 100,000 people. Foxconn has one million employees. You can do the math.

        If you take one million people from pretty much ANYWHERE, and from all walks of life, you can bet your ass a dozen or so will off themselves within a year.

        That’s a sad reality, but it’s also a very real one.

    1. exactly.
      that’s my point.

      everyone acts so dumb & ignorant.
      we all know nothing is produced locally.
      not products, not food, nada.
      so we’re all hypocrites if we bitch about Apple being abusive, as we morally buy from every other american firm that does nothing themselves.

      if we complain about apple we complain about all companies.

      let’s realize this please.
      enough hype & Fud!
      we only fool ourselves.

      if we’re so highly moral,
      we should not buy anything and walk not drive everywhere.
      as gas & food & all else is foreign sweat.

      so let’s stop pretending & acting.
      our nation is so full of superficial shit.
      let’s get real.
      the entier globe is at work.
      no man is an island.
      we all do our due diligence.
      we all share the successes & burdens.
      we’re all 1 big f’g family. period.

      no one gets away morally.
      we’re all guilty.
      we all affect each other.
      we’re interdependent.

      so competition is senseless.
      if nations compete so hard to kill each other,
      there would be no nations left to import our shit.

      anyway, apple is no more guilty than any other manufacturer. and apple is more transparent & giving to start with, so whose your daddy?

    2. Doesn’t California produce their own fuel? I don’t particularly know, but my understanding, was that fuel prices in California were typically higher because we have additives, taxes, and produce our own oil and refine it in state. Just saying, correct me if I am wrong.

  5. So when is the big exposé story coming out…

    Apple feeds little children to their employees?

    Let’s all start buying Android phones because they are made by little ELFS!

    Congrats to all the dumb asses who watched the show.

  6. I saw no shocking terrible conditions for there workers. They may need a little less crowded areas where they live, but other than that it looked clean and healthy. I don’t remember seeing if they had any sort of entertainment like a TV to watch or something like that. Perhaps they could provide them with something in there dorm rooms for that at least. Everyone needs to remember that many other companies like Dell also use Foxconn for there manufacturing as well.

  7. http://www.electronista.com/articles/12/02/22/workers.reassigned.given.unusual.privileges/

    “If there is no pressure from consumers then Apple does not need to care about criticism from the public. Apple has its code of conduct, but that is merely a piece of paper without a mechanism to enforce those standards. When we demand that Apple should fix the problem, it’s not just because Apple is under the spotlight, but it’s also because we hope to hold Apple accountable because the company has publicly pledged lots of things, like that they will ensure decent working conditions at its suppliers.”

    Foxconn is not owed by Apple.

    If there were jobs and factories offered in China from Japan or Korea – are their companies seen in the same light as Apple?

    2 dollars an hour in China is low but ask yourself why then are people lined up to work there. So, there isn’t much choices for them… does China as a country help their own people – not much – yet hopes the US will with jobs and flow of cash this manner?

    It is the county of China that needs to step up and set these standards… unfortunately then Apple might go elsewhere and so will Foxconn.

    So whats the solution?

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