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Photos: inside Foxconn's "iPod City"

post #1 of 40
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A pair of photos published earlier this week by the UK's Mail on Sunday appear to portray substandard work environments within Chinese manufacturing facilities that build versions of Apple Computer's popular iPod digital music players.

One photo shows shows a dormitory within E3 -- a Foxconn-owned manufacturing facility responsible for churning out iPod nanos -- packed tightly with cots and lined with wash buckets, lockers and clothes lines.

Yet another photo appears to show employees lined on one of the factory's roof tops as they prepare to begin work for the day.

"Every morning the workers, in beige jackets to denote their junior status, are taken up to the factory roof for a military-style drill," the Mail reported in its article, titled "iPod City."

Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai, is one of the world's largest IT companies. The Taiwanese company has been contracted by Apple to build products such as iPods, AirPort Express base stations and desktop computers.

According to the Mail, Foxconn employs a "million-strong" staff and is currently investing $57 million in factories in Beijing and Suzhou that will "take advantage of China's cheap workforce."

On Wednesday, Apple issued a statement in response to claims made by the Mail on Sunday, saying it plans to investigate the matter.

Dormitory at Foxconn's E3 factory | Image copyright Mail on Sunday.

Military-style drills on the roof top at Foxconn | Image copyright Mail on Sunday.

"Apple is committed to ensuring that working conditions in our supply chain are safe, workers are treated with respect and dignity, and manufacturing processes are environmentally responsible," the company said.
post #2 of 40
What evidence is there that these photos are legitimate? None is offered. The Mail is nothing more than a British tabloid press, and now AppleInsider is for publishing these photos as news.
post #3 of 40
most Asian work groups participate in group exercise prior to a shift, this is common especially in China and Japan. We'd do as well to get our plump derriers off our office chairs for a few minutes every day rather than slurping down that 96oz pepsi for breakfast.
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post #4 of 40
That's exactly what I was thinking. It's entirely possible they saw a morning Tai Chi or similar exercise group, recognized it as such, and deemed it appropriate to name it "military style drills."
post #5 of 40
Are these conditions or practices unusual for China?

It's not right to apply our Western sensibilities to say that the factory is normal or inhumane. I used to work for a company that had a plant in Belgium. They used to take pity on us because we had to work 40 hours or more per week and started with a measly 10 days of paid vacation per year. They had to make sure they didn't exceed 37.5 hours per week (it may have changed since then) and they started with at least four weeks vacation plus many more holidays.

I can't get too upset with Apple until I can see that they are unusual in their treatment of workers. This story sure didn't make that point.
post #6 of 40
Is something wrong with me for seeing these photos and thinking: "Do these people ever have sex?"

I mean where would they do it? Unless they were going to have some sort of dorm-wide orgy.

But don't worry my second thought was about the conditions.
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post #7 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by ecking
Is something wrong with me for seeing these photos and thinking: "Do these people ever have sex?"

I mean where would they do it? Unless they were going to have some sort of dorm-wide orgy.

But don't worry my second thought was about the conditions.

I think in the other article it said it was a women only factory.
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post #8 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by Ichiban_jay
I think in the other article it said it was a women only factory.

And that precludes sex? ;-)
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post #9 of 40
Hey, it doesn't look that different than housing on some US military bases.

Seriously, if I were European, I'd say some of our US work conditions are inhumane. Just read Dilbert for details.

1. Cubicles for 100s
2. 70-80 hour work weeks (esp at startups) (no more than 35 in France)
3. 2 or 3 measly weeks of vacation (4 weeks plus all of August off!)
4. minimal maternity leave; very few companies with paternity leave

So yes it's dangerous to apply our US sensibilities to China. Who knows, the conditions at Hon Hai/Foxconn are likely way better than at the factories turning out cheap $1 merchandise.
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post #10 of 40
I guess I don't understand. What I see is what all China factories I've been in look like. This is not a new thing. Even this type of housing exists in Korea - where the workers have dormitories right at that factory. On the weekends the employees go home to visit their families in Seoul.

It is NOT uncommon that women are used, in fact most electronics companies use women for the reasons stated above.

What is so unique about Apple? I've been in these same facilities that mfg. DELL, HP, Microsoft, etc. Same type, if not the same complexes/facilities...

I object, simply becuase Apple is now an emerging high technology company, a press company is now taking shots... If they want the real story - they should report ALL of the companies that have products that are made in the same factories.

Finally, electronics mfgs. is relatively high tech - the factories that make lower technology products (just simple molded parts) are much worse conditions than some of the electronics assembly locations.

Just my $0.02.
post #11 of 40
There's a hell of a difference between portraying the place as an 'iPod City' that Apple uses to mass produce iPods in inhumane conditions and the reality, a large manufacturing plant that Apple contracts to produce some of their iPods; a plant that produces products for other companies.

This isn't journalism, it's tabloid hype.
post #12 of 40
Oh my godddd@#@@!!!!1!!!11

A "Military-style drill!!1!!"

Yeah, we did those in grade school. I must have been going to school in a fascist backassed country... the USA.

This is not a "drill". These are exercises, and if you've ever been to a factory in China, you'd know that the employees enjoy this, and it's a good way to build unity and motivation.
post #13 of 40
Has anyone mentioned the girl in the foreground (actually, cut off the screen in one photo)? What's she doin there? eh?
post #14 of 40
And if those are supposed to be women in the background, do the arm and hip cut off the picture belong to a man? LOL
post #15 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by tonton
Oh my godddd@#@@!!!!1!!!11

A "Military-style drill!!1!!"

Yeah, we did those in grade school. I must have been going to school in a fascist backassed country... the USA.

This is not a "drill". These are exercises, and if you've ever been to a factory in China, you'd know that the employees enjoy this, and it's a good way to build unity and motivation.


Typcal arrogant attitude..

When you are indentured in employment with a wage that makes it almost makes it impossible to leave, then that is akin to slave labour. Can these workers engage in interstaff relationships when they must live on site? In many caases no. Is the accomodation free? No, rent is deducted from already meager wages. Do they have any free time? Nup, any any free time is taken up by drills (call it exercise if you want).

Would you or I enjoy it if we had to stand in grid formation and perform exercises on cue? Doubt it.

Would you work in those conditions? Doubt it.

One day Chinese workers will work out that they are being ripped off. Then we are all in big trouble. No more cheap iPods....

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post #16 of 40
The photos don't tell me a lot--the reports that workers are locked into their living quarters when not at work is more disturbing.
post #17 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by NateRiver
And if those are supposed to be women in the background, do the arm and hip cut off the picture belong to a man? LOL

The image was cropped from a scan of the printed article. In the print edition layout, there is a teenage girl holding an iPod and dancing. The image of this girl overlays a portion of the photo (see below).



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post #18 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by sandau
most Asian work groups participate in group exercise prior to a shift, this is common especially in China and Japan. We'd do as well to get our plump derriers off our office chairs for a few minutes every day rather than slurping down that 96oz pepsi for breakfast.

Makes a hell of a lot of sence too; back in school, I usually had a better day when I had gym class first thing...gets thee blood flowing.
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post #19 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by orange whip

One day Chinese workers will work out that they are being ripped off. Then we are all in big trouble. No more cheap iPods....

One thing that I acctually agree with Limbaugh on; he said in one of the rare times I listen to him any more, that the fastest way to stop "outsourcing" would be to export unions to China and India.

BTW: $149-$400 isnt CHEAP...not for a music player!
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post #20 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by orange whip
Typcal arrogant attitude..

When you are indentured in employment with a wage that makes it almost makes it impossible to leave, then that is akin to slave labour. Can these workers engage in interstaff relationships when they must live on site? In many caases no. Is the accomodation free? No, rent is deducted from already meager wages. Do they have any free time? Nup, any any free time is taken up by drills (call it exercise if you want).

Would you or I enjoy it if we had to stand in grid formation and perform exercises on cue? Doubt it.

Would you work in those conditions? Doubt it.

One day Chinese workers will work out that they are being ripped off. Then we are all in big trouble. No more cheap iPods....

Oh, come on... I've been to factories in China. Have you?

Not a single worker is "indentured". Stop making shit up. The fact is they can (and do) walk right out of the factory gate whenever they want. It's honestly harder to get in than it is to get out.

Are they "locked in"? No. If they leave do they risk losing their jobs? Sure. If you leave your office in the middle of the day without a legitimate excuse, you likely risk losing your job, too.

And one reason that workers are required to stay on site (but not "locked in") is that there is a huge culture of prostitution in the areas surrounding factories, and the factories want to discourage their workers from getting involved, which means losing the employee most of the time. The areas surrounding factories are also often very crime-ridden, and employees risk getting robbed or raped. As the housing provider, the employer should take some sort of responsibility for the safety of the workers. So there are regulations.

Your response is typical of the type of American that has never stepped outside of the US borders for any reason other than to stay in hotels and visit tourist attractions.

"Would you or I enjoy it if we had to stand in grid formation and perform exercises on cue? Doubt it."

These are uneducated, unskilled laborers. They don't have gyms or tennis courts to go to. Like I said (and I've been there), they enjioy the cameraderie and fun of the exercises. If they don't feel like doing them, theyu are not punished. When we were children, we did the same thing. As adults, we aren't required to do so, but there are plenty of adults in Asian societies who do choose to do exactly this. And such a culture is spreading to the West. Haven't you ever seen tai chi exercises in the park?
post #21 of 40
why even look to China? what about programmers and designers here in the US and elsewhere who routinely work 16 hour days, frequent all-nighters, no union, no overtime pay, just insane deadlines to meet so that hopefully (hopefully) Steve will give a verbal pat on the head at a MacWorld keynote.

heck, if they're getting 3 squares a day they're ahead of me and diet of coffee and cigarettes.
post #22 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by mark2005

1. Cubicles for 100s
2. 70-80 hour work weeks (esp at startups) (no more than 35 in France)
3. 2 or 3 measly weeks of vacation (4 weeks plus all of August off!)
4. minimal maternity leave; very few companies with paternity leave

So we work hard; that is not bad is it?

1: there are plenty of good careers in America, no one HAS to be a cubical drone! it is called freedom, the catch is that millions of us do not use it to its fullest.

2: The ones busting ass in startups are usually the ones who are the stake holders in the enterprise, for many, it is not only work, but a hobby -- hence the somewhat overused monicur, do what you love and it will not be "work"

3: As a recent college grad waiting for the whole job thing to work out (which should happen in a couple of weeks) I can tell you that a month off is BORING...the first week is kinda nice, but it gets reallly old, you can only do so much job searching in a single day, once you have sent out a new batch of resumes, prepaired for interviews and replied to email, you have nothing else to do! I finish the daily tasks by noon, unless I have an interview...

Trust me, a month or more off would leave me and many other Americans begging for something to do!***

4: FUCK THAT!!! I CHOOSE not to have kids, I don't particularly like kids, so I pick up the slack for daddy and get none of his pay to do so! All you have to do to get leave is knock up a girl? Maternity leave is perfectly understandable, but paternity leave is a slippery slope; is it only for married guys? live-ins get it too? how about guys who had a kid in a one-night-stand or extra marital affair?

While we are on the topic, just let me toss this out there Smoke breaks SUCK; I choose not to smoke and the duche next to me who does gets 3 breaks to my one! I am addicted to caffeen, but I dont take a Mountain Dew break every bloody hour!


*** I have no disgressionry cash so no work is no fun
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post #23 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by tonton
Oh, come on... I've been to factories in China. Have you?

Not a single worker is "indentured". Stop making shit up. The fact is the can (and do) walk right out of the factory gate whenever they want. It's honestly harder to get in than it is to get out.

Your response is typical of the type of American that has never stepped outside of the US borders for any reason other than to stay in hotels and visit tourist attractions.


Im not from America, I'm actually a lot closer to Asia than that. I have been involve in a number of large construction projects in China. I do read a lot and are far more critical what is put infrom of me than the average schmo.

I cannot stand tourist attractions of westernised hotels when visiting another country.

As for China there is a huge migration from subsistance living in rural areas to urbanisation. Yes these people need jobs and in many cases these people are exploited. There is a very well document case regarding Nokia outsourcing fabication to China. Nokia is a has very high ethical standards but when it inspected its factories in China, found conditions for employees to be very poor.

The point is, is it good enough for the west to source our consumables in this manner....

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post #24 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by a_greer
So we work hard; that is not bad is it?

It is if you don't get paid for every last frickin' minute you work. We have this serious problem in the U.S. where employees seem to think it's okay to have a salaried job and then work 70 hours a week. No overtime, no double time, no compensation whatsoever for working more than 40 hours. This is total bullshit and this is how companies get to report increased "productivity". The next time you hear a news report about productivity being up in the U.S. you can rest assured that the employers have managed to squeeze more work out of their employees without paying them anything for that extra work. That is exactly what "productivity" means. If productivity is up, then you must be screwed.

Oh yeah, the Germans have "transferrable" vacation time. it accrues over your lifetime and has nothing to do with how long you have worked for some company. What would be wrong with that? Oh wait it might hurt the screwing, er um, I mean "productivity".
post #25 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by WelshDog
It is if you don't get paid for every last frickin' minute you work. We have this serious problem in the U.S. where employees seem to think it's okay to have a salaried job and then work 70 hours a week. No overtime, no double time, no compensation whatsoever for working more than 40 hours. This is total bullshit and this is how companies get to report increased "productivity". The next time you hear a news report about productivity being up in the U.S. you can rest assured that the employers have managed to squeeze more work out of their employees without paying them anything for that extra work. That is exactly what "productivity" means. If productivity is up, then you must be screwed.

Oh yeah, the Germans have "transferrable" vacation time. it accrues over your lifetime and has nothing to do with how long you have worked for some company. What would be wrong with that? Oh wait it might hurt the screwing, er um, I mean "productivity".


This is starting to get off the track, but...

Apparently in the good ol USA the average middle to upper income earner works 2400 hours per year. That is hard work! Yet the same Dutch employee enjoys the same standard of living yet only works 1600 hours per year. Where do you want to be? (I suspect that the average lowly paid chinese worker works a 2400 hour year for a much lower standard of living)

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post #26 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by orange whip
Where do you want to be?

Behind the big ass desk in the office marked "CEO"
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post #27 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by WelshDog
It is if you don't get paid for every last frickin' minute you work. We have this serious problem in the U.S. where employees seem to think it's okay to have a salaried job and then work 70 hours a week. No overtime, no double time, no compensation whatsoever for working more than 40 hours. This is total bullshit and this is how companies get to report increased "productivity". The next time you hear a news report about productivity being up in the U.S. you can rest assured that the employers have managed to squeeze more work out of their employees without paying them anything for that extra work. That is exactly what "productivity" means. If productivity is up, then you must be screwed.

Oh yeah, the Germans have "transferrable" vacation time. it accrues over your lifetime and has nothing to do with how long you have worked for some company. What would be wrong with that? Oh wait it might hurt the screwing, er um, I mean "productivity".

It is a simple fear of standing up to the man; if something goes wrong and you need to do 2 hrs of over time to salvage a huge project that is one thing, but if you are talking the constant 70-80 hr weeks, that is a streight up lack of balls! At some point you have to just tell the boss streight up: "pay overtime or I will not stay one minute past 40 hours."
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post #28 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by orange whip
Im not from America, I'm actually a lot closer to Asia than that. I have been involve in a number of large construction projects in China. I do read a lot and are far more critical what is put infrom of me than the average schmo.

I cannot stand tourist attractions of westernised hotels when visiting another country.

As for China there is a huge migration from subsistance living in rural areas to urbanisation. Yes these people need jobs and in many cases these people are exploited. There is a very well document case regarding Nokia outsourcing fabication to China. Nokia is a has very high ethical standards but when it inspected its factories in China, found conditions for employees to be very poor.

The point is, is it good enough for the west to source our consumables in this manner....

You need to understand that living and working conditions are relative to the country within which they exist. If you have a beef about this, it's not about Apple or other foreign manufacturers in China (Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Czech Republic, Italy, Mexico...) it's about the country in question and not whether there are proper laws to protect workers from exploitation in those countries, but whether the pace of progress in such laws is reasonable.
post #29 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by a_greer
It is a simple fear of standing up to the man; if something goes wrong and you need to do 2 hrs of over time to salvage a huge project that is one thing, but if you are talking the constant 70-80 hr weeks, that is a streight up lack of balls! At some point you have to just tell the boss streight up: "pay overtime or I will not stay one minute past 40 hours."


Absolutely...

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post #30 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by tonton
You need to understand that living and working conditions are relative to the country within which they exist. If you have a beef about this, it's not about Apple or other foreign manufacturers in China (Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Czech Republic, Italy, Mexico...) it's about the country in question and not whether there are proper laws to protect workers from exploitation in those countries, but whether the pace of progress in such laws is reasonable.

Agreed, but is there no obligation for companies like Apple to conduct there business ethically (And I am in not way suggesting that a Company like Apple is generally unethical)? For example Nokia is listed on ethical managed funds so therefore must act ethically.

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post #31 of 40
Wow! We are pretty defensive of Apple. I'm certain that if these allegations were made against, say, Microsoft, then we'd be all over them. Instead, we're making excuses of Tai Chi classes of all things?!

Not, trying to be a prude and I HOPE this is all a big lie from someone trying to discredit Apple (Creative?), but let's at least stop making strange excuses.
post #32 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by toosday
Wow! We are pretty defensive of Apple. I'm certain that if these allegations were made against, say, Microsoft, then we'd be all over them. Instead, we're making excuses of Tai Chi classes of all things?!

It's not making excuses if they're running things the same way as all comparable factories in those countries? If this is so bad, can you tell us another mp3 maker in china that has conditions you feel are better?

Sounds like you have a double standard, why do you expect apple to have factory conditions that are better than comparable ones there? How would you expect them to compete otherwise?
post #33 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by a_greer
3: As a recent college grad waiting for the whole job thing to work out (which should happen in a couple of weeks) I can tell you that a month off is BORING...the first week is kinda nice, but it gets reallly old, you can only do so much job searching in a single day, once you have sent out a new batch of resumes, prepaired for interviews and replied to email, you have nothing else to do! I finish the daily tasks by noon, unless I have an interview...

Trust me, a month or more off would leave me and many other Americans begging for something to do!***
*** I have no disgressionry cash so no work is no fun

you know, it's funny. yesterday i was having this conversation with a co-worker about how it would kick ass to have a whole month of vacations. here in mexico you get one week and it increments depending on how many years you've worked at the company.

we ended up wishing we worked in spain or some other kick ass european country where they get a month off.
post #34 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by minderbinder
It's not making excuses if they're running things the same way as all comparable factories in those countries? If this is so bad, can you tell us another mp3 maker in china that has conditions you feel are better?

Sounds like you have a double standard, why do you expect apple to have factory conditions that are better than comparable ones there? How would you expect them to compete otherwise?

So, you're telling me that if this post was about Microsoft, then you wouldn't rip them a new one for their working conditions? If it were about Creative, then would you simply chalk it up them to trying to "compete"? If it were about iRiver, would you say, "Well, I bet Apple does the same thing"?

I might be wrong, but I doubt you would take it that way if it were anyone other than Apple.
post #35 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by toosday
So, you're telling me that if this post was about Microsoft, then you wouldn't rip them a new one for their working conditions? If it were about Creative, then would you simply chalk it up them to trying to "compete"? If it were about iRiver, would you say, "Well, I bet Apple does the same thing"?

Yes, that is precisely what he is telling you.
post #36 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by Chucker
Yes, that is precisely what he is telling you.

Then I am wrong and that would certainly be fair.
post #37 of 40
The only thing that bothers me about sweatshops is that often participation is not willful in the first place. Other than that, I don't see anything wrong with them. A job is a job. If you are willing to take that job, then that's not my problem, or the problem of any goverment or foolhardy organization.

Quote:
Originally posted by toosday
Wow! We are pretty defensive of Apple. I'm certain that if these allegations were made against, say, Microsoft, then we'd be all over them. Instead, we're making excuses of Tai Chi classes of all things?!

Nope. I have long defended the workers' right to choose argument.
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post #38 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by tonton

And one reason that workers are required to stay on site (but not "locked in") is that there is a huge culture of prostitution in the areas surrounding factories,

Finally an answer to my sex question.
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post #39 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by tonton
And such a culture is spreading to the West. Haven't you ever seen tai chi exercises in the park?

I went to the mall once before it opened because my car was in the shop and I had some spare time.

I was surprised to see a group of like 100 people doing taichi in the mall before it opened.

Didn't know people did that there hmm.
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post #40 of 40
Those people need a workers revolution! They need to cast off the shackles of Capitalist oppression and fly the red flag of Communism. They need to read Marx, Engels and Mao Tse Tung!
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