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iPod City: inside Apple's iPod factories

post #1 of 113
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Apple Computer's iconic digital music players are built primarily by female workers who sometimes earn as little as $50 per week, according to an article in the print edition of Mail on Sunday.

The report, dubbed "iPod City," offers a rare glimpse inside Apple's massive iPod manufacturing facilities, which are owned by Foxconn and situated in China.

By itself, Foxconn's Longhua facility is reported to house over 200,000 workers -- or a population larger than the British city of Newcastle. Its exterior gates flaunt billboards encouraging anyone over the age of 16 to apply for a job.

Inside Longhua, workers labor a 15-hour day building iPods, for which they usually earn about $50 per month. When they're not on the assembly lines, they live in secluded dormitories that each house 100 people and prohibit visitors from the outside world. The workers are allowed "a few possessions" and a "bucket to wash their clothes."

"We have to work too hard and I am always tired. It's like being in the army," Zang Lan, one of the workers at Longhua, told the Mail. "They make us stand still for hours. If we move we are punished by being made to stand still for longer. The boys are made to do pushups."

According to the report, the iPod nano is made in a five-story factory called "E3" that is secured by armed police officers. The super-slim digital music player is said to include over 400 parts which arrive from component manufacturers all over the world.

Another factory in Suzhou, Shanghai, manufacturers iPod shuffles and is completely surrounded by barbed wire. At this facility, 50,000 workers are housed outside the plant and earn about $99 per month. However, they must pay out of pocket for their accommodations and food, "which takes up half their salaries."

One security guard told the Mail that the iPod shuffle production lines are staffed by women workers because "they are more honest than male workers."

According to the report, Apple is just one of thousands of companies that now use Chinese facilities to manufacture its products. China's low wages, long hours and industrial secrecy, make the country attractive to business, especially as increased competition and consumer expectations force companies to deliver products at lower prices.
post #2 of 113
Ahh, the hidden price of low cost goods.
post #3 of 113
what pisses me off about this story is that it links back to macworld.uk as the origin of the story. click on that and it links from macworld.uk to some story that DOESN'T exist on mailonsunday.co.uk

http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/pages/...n_page_id=1766

bogus? Who knows but quoting a link of a link that doesn't exist is crud.

next this story will show up on Digg.com linking to AI...and then slashdot will quote digg.com....repeat, rinse repeat.

this is the internet news today == crud.
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post #4 of 113
$99 a month is better than $0 a month because you don't have a job. If it weren't for global consumerism feeding the demand for Chinese manufactured good, they wouldn't be experiencing much of any economic growth at all. I get so tired of hearing all the bleeding hearts agonize over the west's (America's) exploitation of workers in China, when any pain they may be experiencing in the short-term will eventually lead to prosperity in the long-term. And the more they deal and interact economically with the rest of the world, the less the communist system will be able to maintian its grip on the lives of the people.
post #5 of 113
maybe this is why the first shuffles where listed as "do not eat iPod shuffle" because the workers were very hungry and it was rice colored?
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post #6 of 113
Quote:
Originally posted by sandau
maybe this is why the first shuffles where listed as "do not eat iPod shuffle" because the workers were very hungry and it was rice colored?

That's the worst thing I've read all day.

Funny.
post #7 of 113
Quote:
Originally posted by schmidm77
$99 a month is better than $0 a month because you don't have a job. If it weren't for global consumerism feeding the demand for Chinese manufactured good, they wouldn't be experiencing much of any economic growth at all. I get so tired of hearing all the bleeding hearts agonize over the west's (America's) exploitation of workers in China, when any pain they may be experiencing in the short-term will eventually lead to prosperity in the long-term. And the more they deal and interact economically with the rest of the world, the less the communist system will be able to maintian its grip on the lives of the people.

Indeed. Anti-globalisationists seem to like glossing over the 38million+ fatalities of the "true" communist regime China had until 1976 which shut out the rest of the world and REALLY made its people suffer.

Americans used to have horrible working conditions a century and more ago, likewise for my ancestors here in the heart of the industrial revolution in the 1700's, but where are we today? Rich and advanced by world trade and ever improving living standards produced by capitalism.

It's not great to hear about poor conditions. But back in the old days, you heard jack because like North Korea it was a true nightmare. China will get over this in time, as will India and every other sweatshop. Once robotics etc. have made $1 a day an impossibly high wage in comparison, no one will be required to assemble mass products by hand.
post #8 of 113
Bit irresponsible in that it does not provide context. For instance percentage of Chinese that are underemployed; average wage of Chinese manufacturing laborers, average cost of living in the region the workers reside, or their hometowns.

All of this is information that could be found out by an investigative journalist, likely with little effort, and so it tells me the originators of the article care more about generating an emotional response for their publication than the actual plight of Chinese laborers.
post #9 of 113
the reason that it is linked to the macworld story is because it snot available directly onine, or couldnt you be bothered to read it properly? doesnt make it any less credible anyway. good to see also that people here see that the issue of low wages a lack of rights and bad living conditions are either dismissed or laughed at.

and just because somebody is being employed doesnt mean that you have to abuse their right to a decent wage basic workrights and conditions. good to see also that apple linked up with nike recently, another company nototious for this kind of thing.

seems like as long as you get your 'cool stuff' cheap then you either choose to discredit information or just simply ignore something like this. apple make premium products but dont really care about the workers of their contractors, doesnt matter if other companies are doing it, apple are supposed to be one of the good guys and clearly they are not
post #10 of 113
Quote:
Originally posted by ChevalierMalFet
Bit irresponsible in that it does not provide context. For instance percentage of Chinese that are underemployed; average wage of Chinese manufacturing laborers, average cost of living in the region the workers reside, or their hometowns.

Absolutely. The one thing it did state was that they have to spend half of their wages on food and accomodation... well, I've got news for you: my food and accomodation costs half of my wage, even though I'm making a lot more than they are. Obviously the cost of living is different there than it is here.
Another bit of information I would have liked to see is how kindly they treat their workers, as well as interviews with some of the workers to see how happy they are with their jobs. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of them were thrilled to have such a job.
post #11 of 113
I spend more than half of my salary on accomodation and food, what are they complaining about?
post #12 of 113
Nike + iPod ... OH! now I get it!
post #13 of 113
Many western companies use China to manufacture their goods fully aware of the slave labour wages and conditions within these factories. This problem is bigger than any one company.

I really hope I live to see the day when the corrupt and murderous Chinese dictatorship is fianlly overthrown and the Chinese people are set free.
post #14 of 113
Quote:
Originally posted by fuyutsuki
[..] the "true" communist regime China [..]

There is no such thing as a "true communist regime". The very concept of communism includes the lack of a regime.

Even if you mean socialism, neither China nor the Soviet Union are much of an example of that, but more of despotism and dictatorship.

So, don't use the term "true". It'll only make geniuses like Karl Marx cringe in their graves.
post #15 of 113
Note where it says that shuffle makers (who make $80/mo) pay half their income to living expenses... whoa wait, that means they're living on $40/month.

$40/mo.. my living expenses are $1000/month.

Note to the morons: $80/month is much higher than china's minimum wage for a reason: IT'S A LOT OF FREAKIN MONEY THERE.

Don't get all high and mighty saying "oh it's too low", in some parts of the world, that's how people live. And unless you're gonna go over there to fix their lives personally, keep buying iPods, keep them employed, and keep remembering our OWN industrial revolution which was much worse.
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post #16 of 113
$50/month (with housing and food included) or $99/month are not slave wages in China or for that matter, in most of the countries of the world.

Why can't people get this concept of relativity into their heads? What do they teach in Western schools? Or are westerners just getting dumber with each passing generation? (If so, it must be from using PCs!!!!)
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post #17 of 113
nobody is saying that the chinese dictatorship is a good thing, so keep your commy accuations out. the main argument is that the people should be treated properly and the companies involved have the money to do it. just skimming of profit by exploiting workers from other countries is not acceptable

just becuase we all suffered a hundred years ago, doesnt mean that others have to suffer now, or are you into some kind of 'penalty' for industrialisation?. clearly one would have hoped that civilisation would have advanced to the extent that even though people work in factories they should be treated better than the 19th century. also the issue isnt just about wages. its about issues such as forced overtime, unfair dismissials, a lack of any system to check that there are any under age workers.

as for the people claiming that they have an equally difficult life because they have to give up half their wages becuase of their accomodation. that's disgusting- i am pretty sure t many of you don't live in a place where the facilities are basic often to the point of a lack of sanitation, where you have limited access to your family. grow up and take some responsibilty. you have a duty to others to help - not to throw out comments from your comfortable little world and make jokes at other people's expense who are facing some real problems
post #18 of 113
"secluded dormitories that each house 100 people and prohibit visitors from the outside world"

and what's the justification for that? If the low wages are OK, is mistreatment OK too? "Anything goes" for a buck?

Note: Apple is in a position to make demands about those issues. And locking up 100s of people isn't necessary to protect the secrecy of a product that already exists.
post #19 of 113
is this really AppleInsider? I better check the url...
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post #20 of 113
I can see where those who view this as oppression are coming from. But does anyone here think that Apple demanding they treat their employees better going to make any difference? Somehow I doubt it. What it would do if Apple did this is, raise the cost of iPods, iPods would lose their market, other players would take their place with parts contracted from Foxconn, and we'd be back to square one.

You can't frown on Apple, it just doesn't make any sense to. They're not in a position to make any change! If you must frown on someone, frown on China, or on Foxconn.

And boycotting apple because of their contractor's business practices probably isn't going to do any good either.

Now, if this situation with FoxConn was an exception in china, THEN you could make all those arguments. But it's not! This is the norm in China. One business can't revolutionize a country!
post #21 of 113
The Daily Mail is slightly to the right of Hitler. Usually they're making up stories about illegal immigrants and how Johnny Foreigner is after our jobs and our women.

It must be a slow day on the Mail when their story is an attack on economies outside the UK that everyone knows about already. Chinese people have lower salaries and work in big factories? I'm shocked!

Also really funny that the Mail should be championing workers rights when it was somewhat influential in campaigning against the unions in the 80s and 90s as the mouthpiece of the Conservative government.
post #22 of 113
Quote:
Originally posted by marklar
nobody is saying that the chinese dictatorship is a good thing, so keep your commy accuations out. the main argument is that the people should be treated properly and the companies involved have the money to do it. just skimming of profit by exploiting workers from other countries is not acceptable

just becuase we all suffered a hundred years ago, doesnt mean that others have to suffer now, or are you into some kind of 'penalty' for industrialisation?. clearly one would have hoped that civilisation would have advanced to the extent that even though people work in factories they should be treated better than the 19th century. also the issue isnt just about wages. its about issues such as forced overtime, unfair dismissials, a lack of any system to check that there are any under age workers.

as for the people claiming that they have an equally difficult life because they have to give up half their wages becuase of their accomodation. that's disgusting- i am pretty sure t many of you don't live in a place where the facilities are basic often to the point of a lack of sanitation, where you have limited access to your family. grow up and take some responsibilty. you have a duty to others to help - not to throw out comments from your comfortable little world and make jokes at other people's expense who are facing some real problems

I'm not disagreeing with you totally, but you're looking at the situation in China from a western standpoint. When you're in China, it's like your in a whole nother country! Everything is different, their work ethic is different, their reasons for working are... RELIGIOUS! I'm not condoning China's behavior towards its workers, just pointing out facts, it's different, and there's nothing Apple can do about it. a 40 hour work week is a western idea, not china's.
post #23 of 113
Quote:
Originally posted by Chucker
There is no such thing as a "true communist regime". The very concept of communism includes the lack of a regime.

Even if you mean socialism, neither China nor the Soviet Union are much of an example of that, but more of despotism and dictatorship.

So, don't use the term "true". It'll only make geniuses like Karl Marx cringe in their graves.

I hope I haven't upset a libertarian socialist ... whenever I open my mouth about globalisation I seem to do that.

What's wrong with China right now isn't a political ideology or anything as high minded. It has been run into the ground since 1949 first by a maniac and then by a series of somewhat more practical despots who all necessarily fear freedom of speech and democracy. That's all dictatorship is and China's number one problem is it's dictatorship. Taiwan isn't perfect, but compared to the mainland it's pretty good, especially in recent times once its democracy picked up where the previous military regime left off.

India has a very different problem even though a trip to factories in Mumbai and Shanghai would seem to suggest otherwise at first sight. India has a working democracy, but it's governments have been unweildy and corrupt. There are huge social problems and the massive hurdles of economics to climb over, but at least Indians do have the opportunity to boot their leaders out of office if they choose.. So the race between the two great population superpowers we've got to look forward to this century should at least be interesting!
post #24 of 113
Quote:
Originally posted by nagromme
"secluded dormitories that each house 100 people and prohibit visitors from the outside world"

and what's the justification for that? If the low wages are OK, is mistreatment OK too? "Anything goes" for a buck?

Note: Apple is in a position to make demands about those issues. And locking up 100s of people isn't necessary to protect the secrecy of a product that already exists.

I'm sure their presence there was voluntary. With living expenses included, their post-expenses pay is higher than the shuffle workers, with that catch--they live in seclusion.

It's like joining the military in the US--once you're in, you're in.. However, I still think these people are allowed to quit (unlike the military).

You live in this (likely lavish, by chinese standards) dormatory for a few years, have tons of money (by chinese standards), and then go out and buy an education or save for your kid(s) education.

In the meantime, yes, Apple [more than likely, foxconn] make a hefty profit because you can't get a higher paying job.

Finally, with these workers being there voluntarily, Grow the F*CK up. If they weren't getting paid this low a wage, Foxconn or Apple would find another area. So it's not a choice between higher and lower pay, it's a choice between having a job and NOT having one. Even in the pseudo-commie PRC, being employed is always better.

There's a reason we've lost all our manufacturing jobs in the US, and it's because THESE PEOPLE NEED THEM. Oh, and seemingly exploitatively, companies come in to take advantage of the supply of labor.

Oh noes, a company is making a buck!

Just one final point to seal the deal: If you raised the minimum wage for the PRC to $1/hr, their economy, as most of their workers have low employment value, would drop drastically and people would actually DIE, just like under Mao.

You want to make their lives better? Keep them employed, and watch them advance into modernism (just like everyone else did). Forcing the issue with laws and "visible-hand" economics will make their lives worse for the shortrun AND the longrun.

There's really no choice. Welcome to the Real World©.
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post #25 of 113
Quote:
Originally posted by marklar
just becuase we all suffered a hundred years ago, doesnt mean that others have to suffer now, or are you into some kind of 'penalty' for industrialisation?. clearly one would have hoped that civilisation would have advanced to the extent that even though people work in factories they should be treated better than the 19th century...

All China had going for it was a huge potential workforce that was willing to work for low wages. It was completely lacking in modern technology, infrastructure and capital.

So yes, they did have to start from somehwere near the beginning in their agrarian to industrial transition.
post #26 of 113
Quote:
Originally posted by fuyutsuki
I hope I haven't upset a libertarian socialist

You haven't upset me; I was merely pointing out a misuse of the term. "True", "communist" and "regime" simply don't fit together. "True communism" (which neither China, nor anything else that ever existed, is), or "a regime alleging to be communist", etc., work.
post #27 of 113
Quote:
Originally posted by Chucker
You haven't upset me; I was merely pointing out a misuse of the term. "True", "communist" and "regime" simply don't fit together. "True communism" (which neither China, nor anything else that ever existed, is), or "a regime alleging to be communist", etc., work.

And that's because communism, like all slavery based systems, required a master to set priorities and keep the masses in line.
post #28 of 113
Quote:
Originally posted by schmidm77
And that's because communism, like all slavery based systems, required a master to set priorities and keep the masses in line.

Communism is neither "slavery-based" (in fact, it is much more humane than any other system, which is its very point), nor does it have a master. It's an anarchic system. No hierarchy. No master.

You completely missed the point. Good job. Please do your research before trying to have a political discussion.
post #29 of 113
I find it difficult to defend the genius of a man who didn't have the insight into the human mind to realize that the majority of people need to be controlled by something higher than themselves (sound like religion, anyone?) and that those who originally had the power in his "perfect" society would not allow their positions of power to fade away. While his ideas are nice and pretty to think about, they amount to little more than "ooh, wouldn't that be nice" in the real world. Grow up people, if people really felt so bad about the so called "exploitation" of these Chinese workers, no one would go out and buy Nike sneakers, iPods, or anything that you can find at Wal-Mart. By purchasing these products, you condone what China does by supporting the companies that cause China to be the way it is. If it weren't for outsourcing, China wouldn't have a leg to stand on. If the China situation is really so horrible, stop buying iPods and Nike sneakers, but if you aren't willing to do that, stop talking about how nice and pretty it would be if we lived in a society where everyone were perfect equals and life were fair and happy and GROW UP!!

*deep breath*
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post #30 of 113
Quote:
Originally posted by Chucker
Communism is neither "slavery-based" (in fact, it is much more humane than any other system, which is its very point), nor does it have a master. It's an anarchic system. No hierarchy. No master.

You completely missed the point. Good job. Please do your research before trying to have a political discussion.

Communism is anarchic? Lol. So who's going to be the one to manage and prioritize the employment of all that property after its private ownership is abolished? And how are you going to keep all the drones shuffling from their state provided housing to their state provided jobs and back, all working towards the common utopian goal?

Apparently, the "genius" Marx didn't understand the law of unintended consequences. Or maybe he knew all along that his communism was totalitarian by its very nature.
post #31 of 113
Jeez, this thread is going way too off-topic, and largely for my own fault. Mods forgive me.

Quote:
Originally posted by area51boy2000
I find it difficult to defend the genius of a man who didn't have the insight into the human mind to realize that the majority of people need to be controlled by something higher than themselves

Is it wrong of someone to have a positive world view, no matter how unrealistic?

Quote:
While his ideas are nice and pretty to think about, they amount to little more than "ooh, wouldn't that be nice" in the real world.

I agree. I don't consider communism, or its lesser form (non-democratic) socialism, to be feasible. I just don't like it when people associate despotism and exploitation with it, because the two have nothing to do with each other.

The SU, the PRC, Cuba, North Korea, whathaveyou: all of them may claim to follow Marx's principles and ideals, but none of them ever did or ever will. So please don't drag the term "communism" into the trash just because some inhumane country like the PRC abuses it.
post #32 of 113
Quote:
Originally posted by iPickle06
Nike + iPod ... OH! now I get it!

Good one!

Call me what you want, but this is why I will never buy a new iPod while this kind of thing is supported. $99 a month and 15 hour days is better than $0, but why settle? Why not make it better? By supporting it you garuntee that it never gets better for those workers.
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post #33 of 113
Quote:
Originally posted by paix247
Call me what you want, but this is why I will never buy a new iPod while this kind of thing is supported.

So don't. But then, don't buy pretty much anything else either, because almost all consumer commodity items suffer this problem.
post #34 of 113
Shame that all the money they save on labor doesn't translate into lower prices for the products.
post #35 of 113
Quote:
Originally posted by iPickle06
Nike + iPod ... OH! now I get it!

lol!

Quote:
Originally posted by sandau
maybe this is why the first shuffles where listed as "do not eat iPod shuffle" because the workers were very hungry and it was rice colored?

I am both laughing and crying.


----------------

On a serious note folks this is the price of capaitalism. This same things happened in every country which is why china is blowing up so much right now. These type of economic changes usually take much longer but they're catching up - fast.

Probably in 50 years even china will be outpaitienting to someone even cheaper.

And it seems easy for Amercia to point the finger at companies and china but they do that while forgetting their country was built on free labour. At least these people get paid.

And it's others say, room and board + food and clothes easily takes up half a salary - it's all relative.
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post #36 of 113
Quote:
Originally posted by schmidm77
$99 a month is better than $0 a month because you don't have a job. If it weren't for global consumerism feeding the demand for Chinese manufactured good, they wouldn't be experiencing much of any economic growth at all. I get so tired of hearing all the bleeding hearts agonize over the west's (America's) exploitation of workers in China, when any pain they may be experiencing in the short-term will eventually lead to prosperity in the long-term. And the more they deal and interact economically with the rest of the world, the less the communist system will be able to maintian its grip on the lives of the people.

Please, please, please go fuck yourself.

You have GOT to be kidding. Slave labor conditions and you justify it as some necessary step on the glorious road to capitalistic paradise? You wouldn't subject yourself or a family member to those conditions for five minutes, but you'll sit there in your comfortable middle-class existance and claim this is actually good for people? You should be deeply, deeply ashamed. Your comments are some of the most disgusting I have ever seen on the Internet, and that's really saying something.

Here's a quick history lesson to augment your Alabama public school system education. It only took a thousand years in the west for the free market to generate a minumum wage and workers' rights. Due to nothing but blind luck, you now sit on your ass in Starbucks the beneficiary of a millenium of slave and child labor, which of course gives you the moral highground to tell those ingrate dollar a day workers how good they got it.
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post #37 of 113
Quote:
Originally posted by paix247
Good one!

Call me what you want, but this is why I will never buy a new iPod while this kind of thing is supported. $99 a month and 15 hour days is better than $0, but why settle? Why not make it better? By supporting it you garuntee that it never gets better for those workers.

It's a matter of supply and demand. By boycotting Chinese product you are actually slowing the growth of Chinese manufacturing; Because China has such a huge unemployed base, it will take many manufacturers to employ them all; once supply and demand equalize, then the employees can "pick and choose" their employers more, wages will rise, and lastly with time work conditions will improve.

I'm not saying things like 15 hour workdays are pardonable, I'm just trying to put a bit of perspective on the process of economic development. I'm sure the political regime doesn't help matters, but to be fair even in our economic growth urbanization saw American workers in quite similar situationsand for much lower pay.
post #38 of 113
Quote:
Originally posted by Ensign Pulver
Slave labor conditions

However likely this is, it's not an accusation to make without first hand knowledge. Especially since the source was so lax in their reporting. I'm all for lobbying China institues wage labour institutions that mandate maximum work days, and workplace conditions, the minimum wage bit while useless in our country, would probably help at least until jobs keep pace with workers.
post #39 of 113
Wow, wonderful logic Engign...

Just because we were lucky enough to be born into this wonderful nation (which is going downhill rapidly, but that is completely unrelated to the idiocy at hand) we should all feel guilty about our wonderful luck as opposed to someone who was born into a society where $100 a month is a fantastic wage.

And, to augment your second grade education, when immigrant workers first started coming to this country for the prospect of work, well before workers rights or minimum wage laws existed, they were HAPPY to work long, hard days for the money that they made. No matter how shitty their job was, they had a job. If you doubt my logic for one minute, ask yourself why millions of immigrants poured into a society that was so horrible because it didn't have workers rights. Based on your logic, they should have stayed in their countries, because conditions here were sooooo deplorable. Its not like any other country has deplorable conditions, and its not like people within China would kill for the jobs that these workers have. Did it ever occur to you that maybe you are a product of the same starbucks generation, except instead of thanking your lucky stars, you decided to make yourself feel better for all the wonderful things you have compared with people less fortunate by pointing to how terrible the rest of us are for not understanding how horrible conditions are?


to get back on topic slightly, hooray for apple for hiring people who allow us to have (relatively) cheap iPods!
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post #40 of 113
Quote:
Originally posted by sandau
what pisses me off about this story is that it links back to macworld.uk as the origin of the story. click on that and it links from macworld.uk to some story that DOESN'T exist on mailonsunday.co.uk

http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/pages/...n_page_id=1766

bogus? Who knows but quoting a link of a link that doesn't exist is crud.

next this story will show up on Digg.com linking to AI...and then slashdot will quote digg.com....repeat, rinse repeat.

this is the internet news today == crud.

Right. And the headline on the main AppleInsider page says the workers make $50/week while the article says $50/month. There's a big difference there.

Second, how are workers "made" to stand for hours, rather than "expected" to stand? They applied for the job, correct? They can quit at any time? Are these slaves or free people?

I understand that China has problems, many of which originate at the government level. In order to lend credibility to a story like this, however, there needs to be some background regarding the current cultural/economic climate in China. Apparently it forces workers to take jobs where they are stripped of their possessions and must wash their clothes in a bucket.
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