I know the peeps on this forum are looking for some issue to devour, so here is one.Apple engineers have made the iPad—already the best-selling new electronic gadget in history—a model delivery system of fiercely sequestered proprietary content. But the iPad experience is isolating in a far more brutal way as one moves down in the global labor market from the ideal-type Apple consumer to the people who assemble the devices. In 2010, Foxconn, the chief Chinese manufacturer of Apple products—as well as a slew of other electronic and digital devices for other global firms—suffered an epidemic of suicides among its workers, mainly provincial men and women in their teens and early twenties who have been jumping off factory buildings.
Foxconn’s production facility in the rural city of Longhua is the largest factory in the world, housing 300,000 workers paid an average of $130 a month. The workers live on site in corporate dormitories, and the shifting population there, combined with punishing twelve hour workdays oft en stretching across all seven days of the week, makes for profoundly dissociative working and living routines. Employees aren’t permitted to speak to each other during the workday and are often too exhausted to socialize in their narrow margin of off hours, where they’re crowded into shared dormitory rooms infested with cockroaches.
Earlier in the year, Chinese journalist Liu Zhiyi published an undercover expose of the routine endured by Foxconn workers. “As they make the world’s finest gadgets,” he observed, “it seems that while they control the machines, the machines are also dominating them; the parts gradually come together as they move up the assembly line; at the same time, the workers’ pure and only youth disappears.”
Compounding this chilling depiction is the no-less dramatic alienation that awaits Longhua workers should they adjourn to the nearest major city of Shenzhen, home to one of China’s three major stock exchanges and a center of regional high-tech fi nancing. Th ere “workers can envy at people of their own age driving luxury cars and carrying the iPhones they themselves make, but cannot aff ord,” a correspondent in the UK Telegraph notes.
Most Western consumers, presented with the image of a multimedia gadget that seems magically to hover far above most worldly notions of privation or social conflict, have difficulty connecting up their luxe consumer experiences in the Apple iSuite with the nineteenth century working and living conditions that produce their elegant gadgets. That’s emphatically not the case for the Foxconn employees.
Describing the rigid military-style discipline and the phalanxes of security personnel who keep workers under near-constant surveillance, a nineteen-year-old worker who polishes iBooks explained to the London Daily Mail that “we’re told that the drilling builds discipline. We need discipline because Apple products are expensive and there are no margins for mistakes.”
The eleventh Foxconn suicide of the year came in late May, just a day aft er the company announced plans to hire on 2,000 psychologists to start addressing mental-health issues among its employees. Apple declined any comment, apart from citing language in its subcontracting agreements intending to confine employee workweeks to sixty hours—agreements that are rarely given much credence in cheap labor regimes such as China’s. At any rate, contract language calling for ceilings on work hours must sound more than a little disingenuous coming from a company that gloried in its informal start-up slogan, “90 hours a week and loving it!”
I came across this at huffpost
When things like this happen, who is supposed to be held responsible? Is it the govt.( Chinese), Apple, Foxconn, the labour union (doesn't look like they got a union),or some other persons or group. Add the individuals that put themselves into that kind of working environment too. Its just sad that thousands of lives will go to waste just like that.