domingo, 10 de octubre de 2010


Microsoft, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, Foxconn, Acer, Logitech, Asus… are just some of the companies that enslave their workers, including children, to get higher profits and compete more effectively on the market.

Only Escape From Hellish Apple iPhone Factory Was Suicide

May, 2010
Source: DailyTech

Foxconn employees endure hellish working conditions to earn a tiny wage for building Apple's iPads, iPods, and iPhones.  (Source: Southern Weekly)

Last time a reporter tried to penetrate Apple's veil of secrecy, security guards employed by their parts supplier, Foxconn, beat up the reporters involved.  But questions had to be answered in the wake of the suicide/potential murder of a Foxconn employee which occurred after the employee lost an iPhone prototype.

Chinese newspaper Southern Weekly was determined to find out the true story, and
sent a reporter in undercover, posing as a new employee.  Given the fact that Foxconn's Shenzen plant that builds Apple's iPads, iPods, and iPhones has 400,000 employees, that part wasn't too hard.

What was hard, was for the reporter to endure the plant's reportedly hellish working conditions for 28 days. 

So far in the last four and a half months seven workers from the plant have committed suicide, and at least 9 have attempted suicide.  According to reporter Liu Zhi Yi who infiltrated the plant, the likely reason why was that they felt taking their own life was the only option to escape the hellish working conditions of the plant.

According to Liu, the plant makes employees work around the clock, only pausing briefly to eat or sleep.  Most of the time the employees are standing, seldom able to sit down and rest their weary legs.  This is perfectly legal, as employees are required to sign a special overtime document that override Chinese workplace laws and essentially allows the employer to demand whatever hours they want from you, without additional compensation.

Foxconn pays the workers far too little for them to hope to buy one of the Apple products they assemble.  It pays them only 900 Chinese Yuan a month —about $130 USD.  Still the workers have dreams.  They joke that their carts that they haul Apple materials on are "BMWs", dreaming of real BMWs.  They buy lottery tickets and bet on horse races in hopes of miraculously being handed an escape from their purgatory.

But for most, they will live out their lives slaving away to build Apple's products, constantly in danger, while earning only a pittance.  So, according to the newspaper there's little surprise some employees fall into deep despair.

Foxconn at the request of Apple and Chinese state officials has made some steps to decrease the suicide rates.  It's hired counselors and given workers dummies to beat on to vent their rage.  And it's even been so kind as to hire Buddhist monks to allow the souls of those who committed to suicide to escape purgatory.

Chinese teens 'like prisoners' in Microsoft tech factory
April, 2010
Source: Yahoo News

Thousands of Chinese teens and young adults work 15 hours a day at 65 cents per hour, prohibited from talking or listening to music, in abysmal conditions at the KYE Systems factory where they assemble Microsoft hardware that is exported to the United States, Europe and Japan.

So reports the National Labor Committee, which on Tuesday released the culmination of three years of incognito interviews and photography inside the infamous Dongguan, China, gadget factories. Though Microsoft is not the only company to outsource manufacturing to KYE, it accounts for about 30 percent of the factory's work, the NLC said.
"We are like prisoners," one worker told the NLC. "It seems like we live only to work. We do not work to live. We do not live a life, only work."

The workers – mostly women aged 18 to 25 – work from 7:45 a.m. to 10:55 p.m. They eat horrid meals from the factory cafeterias. They have no bathroom breaks during their shifts, and must clean the toilets as discipline, according to the NLC.
They sleep in factory dormitories, 14 workers to a room. They must buy their own mattresses and bedding, or else sleep on 28-inch-wide plywood boards. They "shower" with a sponge and a bucket. And many of the workers, because they're young women, are regularly sexually harassed, the NLC alleges.Young workers rest during a rare 10-minute break while manufacturing Microsoft mice at a KYE Systems factory in Dongguan, China.
During work hours, 1,000 workers could be crammed into one 105-foot by 105-foot room. Inside the factory, to which Microsoft has outsourced since at least 2003, workers assembled such Microsoft products as the LifeCam VX-7000, Basic Optical Mouse and Wireless Notebook Laser Mouse 6000, according to the NLC.
Companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, Foxconn, Acer, Logitech and Asus also outsource production to KYE Systems.

"Since the young Chinese workers would never dream of making demands against Microsoft or the other corporations, this permits the corporations to tout their codes of conduct while knowing full well that they will never be implemented. It's all just part of the game."
The National Labor Committee's report includes a narrative from one KYE factory worker whose jobs consisted entirely of sticking self-adhesive rubber feet to the bottom of Microsoft computer mice. Peel, place, repeat.

But the monotony of sitting (or standing) for 12 hours, applying foot after foot to mouse after mouse, was not the worst of the worker's testimony. It was the militaristic management and sleep deprivation that affected the worker most, according to the NLC's report.
"I know that I can choose not to work overtime, but if I don't work overtime, then I am stuck with only 770 (Chinese yuan, or $112.67, per month) in base wages," the worker said, as reported by the NLC. "This is not nearly enough to support a family. My parents are farmers without jobs. They also do not have pensions. I also need to worry about getting married, which requires a lot of money.
"Therefore, I still push myself to continue working in spite of my exhaustion. When I finish my four hours of overtime, I'm extremely tired. At this time, even if someone offered me an extravagant dinner, I probably would refuse. I just want to sleep!"
Teens and young adults make up the majority of workers at the KYE Systems factory, which produces many Microsoft hardware products. View more photos on Flickr

Though many factories are known for sweatshop-like conditions, Microsoft may not be entirely knowledgeable about the alleged environment at KYE Systems.
"Corporate audits of the KYE factory by Microsoft and other high-tech companies have also failed miserably over the last several years," the NLC's report states. "At the KYE factory the process of preparing for monitoring visits is somewhat subtle. Management instructs the workers to 'answer the clients' questions very carefully.' They should say they never work more than 12 hours a day and overtime is less than 36 hours a month.
"Workers are told to respond they are 'very satisfied' when asked about working conditions, their dorms and meals. To make this sound even more 'authentic,' workers are told to 'spontaneously' mention other factories where they had worked in the past, where conditions were 'awful.' They are more 'hopeful' now that that they are working at KYE."

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