Photos: inside Foxconn's "iPod City"

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 39
    mchumanmchuman Posts: 154member
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 39
    sandausandau Posts: 1,230member
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 39
    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."
  • Reply 4 of 39
    macfandavemacfandave Posts: 603member
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 39
    eckingecking Posts: 1,588member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 39
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 39
    godriflegodrifle Posts: 266member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Ichiban_jay

    I think in the other article it said it was a women only factory.



    And that precludes sex? ;-)
  • Reply 8 of 39
    mark2005mark2005 Posts: 1,158member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 39
    interfxinterfx Posts: 7member
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 39
    zwebenzweben Posts: 75member
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 39
    Has anyone mentioned the girl in the foreground (actually, cut off the screen in one photo)? What's she doin there? eh?
  • Reply 12 of 39
    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
  • Reply 13 of 39
    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....
  • Reply 14 of 39
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 39
    kasperkasper Posts: 940member, administrator
    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).







    -K
  • Reply 16 of 39
    a_greera_greer Posts: 4,594member
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 39
    a_greera_greer Posts: 4,594member
    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!
  • Reply 18 of 39
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 39
    a_greera_greer Posts: 4,594member
    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
  • Reply 20 of 39
    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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