Foxconn workers talk about jobs, working conditions assembling iPhones and iPads

“Wang Yu Ping, a member of the army of migrant workers who piece together everything from iPhones to Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) laptops at factories spread throughout this country, isn’t happy with the world’s gaze on his life on a Foxconn assembly line,” John Boudreau reports for The Mercury News.

“Under pressure from Apple, labor activists and consumer groups, Foxconn recently vowed to improve working conditions at its vast network of factories. The world’s largest electronics manufacturer raised base pay to about $400 a month and slashed overtime work to no more than 18 hours a month,” Boudreau reports. “But for the assembly-line worker, that’s a problem. “It’s not good for us,” said Wang, a 30-year-old from central Hubei province who has assembled iPhones and is now building casings for desktop computers. While the pay hike was welcome, the cut in overtime limits what he can take home each month. ‘I am working here for the money,’ said Wang, his face tense and tired. ‘If I can’t make more money, I may not choose to work here.'”

Boudreau reports, “As part of a campaign to highlight the efforts they’ve made to improve working conditions, Foxconn and its largest customer, Apple, invited journalists from this newspaper to tour parts of Foxconn City, a sprawling campus for some 200,000 workers, and interview workers chosen by the companies. But the two journalists also interviewed a dozen workers outside the factory, with no involvement from Foxconn or Apple. These workers offered a more nuanced view of work there. Most said there had been improvements, but they were still critical of aspects of how they were treated. Others appreciated the work as a path out of poverty and found little cause for complaints.”

Read more in the full article here.

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9 Comments

  1. The only real reason that these products are made there is the vast, cheap labor force.

    Apple can actually take those assembly lines to Brazil, India, or Malaysia once China’s middle class emerges.

    1. …and with more automation Apple will be able to eventually take assembly to many more countries and remain very profitable.

      It will take time and many technical advances, but I predict it will happen in this decade.

    2. Every time I read about manufacturing locations being forced to cheap labor, developing countries, I think about Lamy Pens and Flexi Dog Leashes. Flexi Leashes can be found in any Wal-Mart for about $16, Lamy Pens are a bit harder to find, but they have many models for under $30. Both are manufactured in Germany, a nation with strong exports and a very high standard of living for its workers.

      How can these producers of ordinary products do it and Apple cannot? I’ve seen cheap, China-made knock-offs of the Flexi Leash. Never even been tempted to own one. I’ve seen China-made fountain pens, but never one that would be a pleasure to use. How can German companies, with highly paid workers make these products?

      They have the will. It’s not the 1-sigma middle class that drives cost out of range, it’s the CEO class that believes they are entitled to 400x the compensation of their workers, but bring nothing to the table except a desire to enrich themselves.

      1. Quivaran,
        many of the top fountain pen manufacturers (Montblanc, Pelikan, Lamy) are located in Germany, but so are their main suppliers.

        You could assemble laptops in the US and the sticker price would go up by two or three dollars. What would really drive up the price and lower the quality would be the extremely long supply lines. All the hard drives, main boards, graphic processors, and flat screens are made in Asia. Those manufacturing plants are located smack-dab in the middle of the supplies. That is why they can produce cheaply. Their stockpiles are negligible and they can always find alternatives if one supplier craps out.

    3. Labor is relatively cheap in China (but less so each year). What really distinguishes manufacturing in East Asia though is the work attitude and general intelligence of the labor force and the savvy of Taiwan manufacturers, esp. Foxconn. The latter get no credit in the U.S., as if any random company could organize production for 100s of different highly complicated and constantly evolving devices, using over 1 million workers spread over a vast goeographical area, all to tight schedules and daunting quality standards. These guys are unsung geniuses of prodiction who are, at best, taken for granted and more commonly maligned as cruel exploiters.

  2. Yeah, it’s always about the money.

    They WANT to work insane hours, because they WANT to make as much money as possible in as little time as possible. Cutting hours will only make these workers go to places where they can work insane hours.

  3. Sometimes you must work hard (or even work 2 jobs) to get ahead. I know I did upon arriving in the USA. Just keep our big noses out of other people’s lives. A lot of workers here are getting too soft. After working 70 to 80 hrs – then bitch – just a little.

  4. It’s The Slave Wage Labor Movement.

    You want cheap stuff at the store? This is how it’s done. It’s not magic. It’s plain old overseas cheap labor.

    If you don’t want cheap stuff at the store: Everything made in China is labeled “MADE IN CHINA”. Don’t buy stuff made in China. It’s that simple!

    But then DARN! Wang Yu Ping and other workers get kicked back into the peasantry.

    This is NOT ‘Slave Labor’ as some tards have called it. It’s Slave Wage Labor. It’s a ‘Slave Wage’ relative to what we in the west are used to making. But for a peasant stuck in the boonies of China: Criminal Nation, it’s OPPORTUNITY.

    What are the morals and ethics here? It comes down to a matter of POINT OF VIEW. As long as everyone is treated with full human respect, the default behavior we all deserve, I see benefits to everyone all ’round.

    It’s when anyone in the capitalist system is abused, treated with disrespect that everything falls apart and requires rebuilding.

    Abuse is NOT capitalism. Deal with it, all you kiddies with bogus MBAs.

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