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Judging The Apple 'Sweatshop' Charge 828

Posted by Zonk
from the that's-laterally-not-differently dept.
jurgen writes "MacWorld summarizes an article published in the U.K., stating that Apple's iPods are made in China by women who work 15 hours/day, make $50/month, and have to pay half of that right back to the company for housing and food. The article also claims the workers live in dormitories where they are housed 100 per room, and are not allowed visitors." A Wired article looks at the same story, exploring the reliability of the Mail on Sunday's claims. From that article: "The situation is too murky for a rush to judgment on Apple's ethics here, and it may well meet minimum global standards. But for a company that has staked its image on progressive politics, Apple has set itself up as a potential lightning rod on global labor standards. Sweatshops came back to bite Nike after its customers rose up in arms; and Apple can expect a similar grilling from its upscale Volvo-driving fans in the months ahead."
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Judging The Apple 'Sweatshop' Charge

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  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @10:45AM (#15523888)
    - How much responsibility falls on Apple to encourage its contractors and subcontractors to significantly exceed statutory labor guidelines or governmental requirements in host countries? (Yes, yes, we can all say that "consumers" have the power to force companies to take up the banner. After all, you can't make China change, so why not go after Apple?)

    - Reports about someone earning "X" per month are meaningless out of context. How much, exactly, do other workers in their locale earn? What is the overall cost of living? (Yes, I'm aware that the article makes reference to food and rent consuming "half" their salary.) If the pay is "dismal" even by China's standards, as one of the articles asserts, then why is anyone even working there?

    - No one has to work at a Foxconn plant making iPods. No one. And if it's viewed as the best alternative by individual workers who choose to work there, then it's probably, well, the best alternative. (Arguments about how people have no choice, or assertions about how people may be "persuaded" to stay in the employ of such a company once "hired" are likely to not be very persuasive to me. And if it's Chinese police or governmental entities that don't let workers leave and/or don't let them have visitors, well...)

    - Who cares if there are more female than male workers? What possible bearing does this have on the situation? (I'm trying to figure out exactly why this was mentioned, because it's clearly intended to imply something, though I'm not quite sure what.)

    - How, precisely and specifically, has Apple "staked its image" on "progressive politics"? (And wouldn't more effective change come from the US being able to have a global position such that it can exert pressure on the Chinese government and other human rights abusers, rather than trying to mobilize consumers to target US companies?)

    I guess it always pays to go after the market leaders. And I'm saying that in all seriousness: I'm sure people saw targeting Nike as the most effective way to fight sweatshops at large, just as some might say, "Free Tibet, and you free the world." I will say that it's rather unfair that, in campaigns like these, it's often that one target, however, that bears a hugely disproportionate burden of vilification, blame, and bad press. I can't blame them though; the iPod is certainly an easy and high profile target.

    I'm fairly certain that this will be read by a number of people who think that corporations and corporate behavior are inherently "evil", and that the larger a company or business interest is, the more "evil" it is and indeed must be by definition, which is an awfully one-sided and half-blind way to look at corporations.

    I'd expect and hope, from a supposedly intelligent group of readers, that the majority of the comments here will be examining China's labor laws and China's human rights record, and mechanisms via which those might be changed and how responsible governments of the world can affect that change, rather than thinking about ways that corporations that legally do business in China may be further targeted.
    • Well since it isnt Nike but rather Apple those questions are raised.
    • by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @10:56AM (#15523981)
      I'd expect and hope, from a supposedly intelligent group of readers, that the majority of the comments here will be examining China's labor laws and China's human rights record
      Apple deserves focus because Apple is cashing in bigtime.
      I'm fairly certain that this will be read by a number of people who think that corporations and corporate behavior are inherently "evil", and that the larger a company or business interest is, the more "evil" it is and indeed must be by definition, which is an awfully one-sided and half-blind way to look at corporations.
      Gee, I wonder where people get such ridiculous ideas? Could it be from stories such as the one we're reading right now?

      What's broken is the law itself. The reason the US has lost its manufacturing sector and runs a massive trade deficit is pure and simple: because you can save a huge amount of money by evading US law - evading US minimum wage, evading OSHA, etc. etc. We rightfully hold up companies producing goods in our own country to certain standards. Then we stab them in the back by allowing the competition to bypass all the rules and get their manufacturing done almost for free by outsourcing. As a result, we have only shell corporations who advertise and keep profits but don't actually make anything.

      • by /ASCII (86998)

        Apple deserves focus because Apple is cashing in bigtime.


        So you are saying that it is ok to exploit people if you aren't making money on it? This type of reasoning is what is at the core of Marxism, and I do not agree with it.
        • a)no, that's not what he's saying

          b)you REALLY don't understand the Marxist doctrine....you might have vaguely heard of Stalin or Mao, but neither did what Karl Marx was writing about. Hell, they didn't even do what Lenin was talking about

          c)thewired article is pretty hypocritical in it's 'don't rush to judgement' routine. Slave labour (essentially what these people have to do; it's either sweatshop work in one of those 'economic free zones' or starve) is abhorent to anyone with the least bit of moral underst
          • by Chosen Reject (842143) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:29AM (#15524314)

            Apple should pay the company which makes Apple's product enough money and enforce that any company they do business with pays their employees a living wage.

            And do tell, what is a living wage in their region? Just because you need $50,000/year + to live in your area, doesn't mean that $50/month is not enough in their area. [slashdot.org] Does the article state what conditions are like there? Do they even try? No, it is sensationalist.

            And before we go off and say it is all wrong, let's take a moment to consider that they need to slowly build up to a state of higher living conditions. If you suddenly threw in a bunch of money into their economy, you would royally screw it up with the end result being worse than now.

            • by Anonymous Coward
              Hear, hear!

              I spent Aug 1973 to Aug 1974 in Thailand while in the USAF. A taxi driver there only earned $1000 per year. Shocking?

              No. Said taxi driver only had to spend thirty bucks per month for rent, nothing for water or electricity or natural gas (because there wasn't any; water came from the sky and was stored in a rooftop cictern).

              While in Thailand (no longer 3rd world, I hear) I could feed myself and three girlfriends in a nice restaraunt for a DOLLAR. This included 4 Pepsis!

              You could rent a fishing boa
            • by c_forq (924234)
              Interesting thing on that note, I was in Laos a week ago and the maximum a government worker can legally be paid is $50 a month. That is a salary CAP at $50 a month.
            • by kotj.mf (645325) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @12:51PM (#15525117)
              Does the article state what conditions are like there? Do they even try?

              Yes. Did you?

              FTFA:

              According to the report (paraphrased here by Macworld UK), Foxconn's giant Longhua plant employs 200,000 workers, who work 15-hour days but are paid just $50 a month -- MISERABLE BY EVEN CHINA'S STANDARDS. It claims they work and live in the plant, in dormitories housing 100 people, and outside visitors are forbidden.

              The Longhua plant is in Shenzhen, where the median annual household income is about 24000 RMB, or about $3000 US, or $250/month. So they're getting paid 1/5 of the median household income for the area, before their employer takes half of it for living expenses. Not to mention they're working 15 hour days, probably 6 days/week - or 4500 hours/year. In absolute terms, they're getting paid about $0.13 an hour.

              The median annual household income for the US is about $50k. 20% of that is 10k, or $800/month. ($10k/year)/(4500 hours) = $2.22.

              So, in relative terms, the people who made your ipod are getting paid the equivalent of $2.22 an hour, before the employer takes half for room and board.

              In concluseion: you're wrong. Apple sucks.

              • by Tungbo (183321)
                From the CIO article below, median wage across China is around $120 USD/m.

                http://www.cio.com/archive/101505/china.html?page= 2 [cio.com]

                Financial Times reported Shenzen minimum wages around $100 USD/m according to this link:

                http://www.danielgross.net/ [danielgross.net]

                So your # seems a little high. But the $50 USD/m quoted in the parent article seems too low. It would be illegal.
              • The Longhua plant is in Shenzhen, where the median annual household income is about 24000 RMB, or about $3000 US, or $250/month.

                Care to link your source? Or shall I do it for you? [sptimes.com] A median income of $80US / mo is a lot less than your stated $250.

                In a somewhat related vein, I work with a lot of Indians who have moved to the US within the past 10 years to earn money to either send home now or save to retire back to India later. Many of them have told me that $12-$15K a year is a king's ransom in Indi

              • by MooUK (905450)
                How much of your paycheck goes on basic living costs like food and accomodation? I would guess that it is a fairly large proportion of it.

                I currently live off something like £3200 over nine months for accomodation, and probably another thousand at very minimum on food alone. My total incoming money in a year is probably about £6000, maybe less.

                I'm not necessarily arguing with the whole conclusion, but "they spend half their wages on lodging" is not in itself evidence of being maltreated.
              • by mkiwi (585287)
                China is a much different animal than you might think.

                Nearly all large companies (including Apple) practice a policy of using middlemen to control their workers. For example:
                If I live in China and have heart trouble, I might need a pacemaker. I would like to buy the pacemaker directly from Guidant/whoever but their business in China is very limited because of the goverenment. Instead, Guidant goes to a broker company based in China and the patient pays $5000 to the broker. The broker divides the money

          • No really. Exploitation and dehumanization are at the very core of what Marxism is about, and /ASCII seems to understand it well enough. As to your argument -- if being offered the choice between work and starvation is "slavery", do you solve the problem by removing the choice of work?
          • by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:35PM (#15525647)
            Slave labour (essentially what these people have to do; it's either sweatshop work in one of those 'economic free zones' or starve) is abhorent to anyone with the least bit of moral understanding.

            And therefore, the liberal moral imperative is to make sure that these people take the 'starve' option instead. Better that they starve to death than they be exploited by evil Western corporations. But isn't it funny how they voluntarily choose the 'sweatshop' option?

            They might have to make their gear more expensive, but fuck it; if you can afford a Nano, you can afford a Nano at twice the price if it means that the people making them can have some freedom.

            At this point, we are hit by the stark reality that Westerners aren't interested in paying twice as much for a product. There is no quick solution for third-world poverty, but the 'sweatshop' route is at least a feasible long-term solution. It all makes me suspicious that the real liberal agenda is to maintain the status-quo on third-world poverty forever. How morally repugnant!

        • by kimvette (919543) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @12:46PM (#15525062) Homepage Journal
          This type of reasoning is what is at the core of Marxism


          No, it's not. Communism is actually the ideal system until you add the human factor. Once human nature is introduced you'll end up with what became the Soviet Union and China. Therefore, the best system in the real world is a capitalist society which is a republic or democracy. A pure democracy stinks in some ways because you can never come to a consensus to get things done, but perhaps the world would be better off because you wouldn't see a massive government with a tax-and-spend mentality like we have here in America today.

          Is it Apple's responsibility to make sure that Foxconn conducts business in china morally and ethically? Certainly not, no more so than I'm obligated to make sure that the board of directors of a supermarket I shop at are not running a child porn ring. If I happen to learn that they are doing that, I'd vote with my wallet and not shop at the store because of their actions, and likewise Apple can choose to change the way Foxconn does business by hiring another vendor to manufacture the iPods if they so desire (I'd suggest Asus, actually). Should Apple take steps (based on morality) to effect a change at Foxconn? Certainly. Are they obligated to? Absolutely not.

          Do you investigate labor practices at the local service station where you take your car for maintenance and repairs? Do you shop at Wal-Mart and if so is that particular store demanding employees remain on call at all times without paying for them for sacrificing their family/social lives to be available to work? Did you investigate the local body shop you had paint your car to make sure they don't buy parts from chop shops?

          Would you do business with those companies if you find they pull any of that crap? Now, did Apple know before contracting Foxconn that this is going on at that plant? If they did: what is the norm in that local community, and how does the Foxconn employees' quality of life compare to that of other people in that community?

          Think locally: if you make $45K in say, the northern Florida area, or in Alabama, you're doing fairly well. $60K and you're doing really well.

          $45K in Boston, New York, or San Francisco? You'll be stretching your dollars as far as you can to get by. You'll need to earn about twice as much money to maintain the same lifestyle you enjoyed in Tampa or Alabama.
          • by rossifer (581396) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:46PM (#15525771) Journal
            Communism is actually the ideal system until you add the human factor.

            I would say the problem is a slightly different one: communism doesn't scale past the group where everyone knows everyone else. In order to work, communism requires trust based on first-hand observation. Shaker communities, kibbutzim, families are common examples of successful communal groups (some families more than others). All have worked because people observe that others are actually contributing as much as they can and taking out no more than they need.

            The upper limit on "everyone knowing everyone" appears to be in the range of 100 to 150 people.

            A pure democracy stinks in some ways because you can never come to a consensus to get things done, but perhaps the world would be better off because you wouldn't see a massive government with a tax-and-spend mentality like we have here in America today.

            Are you sure? I think modern media is pretty much able to whip the population into a frenzy when needed by "The Powers That Be(tm)" to get something voted in. I think a pure democracy stinks because if you can whip up a mob, you can get just about anything you want. Ultimately, pure democracies stink because there are no protections for the minority.

            Remember, democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.

            Constitutionally limited republics get much less done (a very good thing), but are still subject to creeping expansion of powers and eventual subversion of the critical checks and balances once enough power is in the hands of the executive (police & military). Nothing is perfect forever.

            Regards,
            Ross
      • by rodgster (671476) *
        It is called a race toward the bottom.

        I have personally witnessed outsourcing of people who make $1.25/hr in the Dominican Republic. "Their Jobs" are now over in China where the pay is $0.10/hr. 2/3 of the factories in the tax free zone of La Romana are now sitting vacant.

        Now, that is F-ed up!

        Global Corporatism at its finest.
        • You might want to pick up a few books by Jane Jacobs [wikipedia.org] from the 60's on. She describes in great detail why those types of incentives do not have long term benefits, and can infact harm the pre-existing economy. Her primary context was for trade between cities (economic regions) but since countries are made up of cities, it is true here as well.
    • by geddes (533463) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:01AM (#15524032)

      You asked:

      "How, precisely and specifically, has Apple "staked its image" on "progressive politics"?"
      From the Wired article:
      Steve Jobs' Think Different campaign celebrated labor leaders like Gandhi, who used strikes as a form of civil protest, and Ceasar Chavez, who organized poor, migrant farm workers.
      • I did read the article, thanks.

        How is using such images in a now- (and long-)defunct ad campaign staking the company's entire image on progressive politics?

        Is the idea that if Apple has EVER used any such ideas, that it's entire image is permanently tied to progressive politics, and therefore can't honestly do anything counter to what, e.g., Ghandi and Chavez stood for? Is Apple currently capitalizing in imagery of Ghandi and Chavez?

        I think my point is that Apple's alleged "image" isn't much different than
    • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:01AM (#15524035)
      Can you imagine there are countries where women would NEVER be employed by local companies, and the only companies offering jobs to women are from outside the country? There are still countries where female workers are considered "inferior", to the point that, if they don't sell themselves considerably below standards, they don't get a job at all.

      Why is anyone working there? Why is anyone working at (insert random fast food chain here)? It certainly isn't the best paying job in the world, the work hours suck but it is A JOB! It gets you money. Not much, but it's still better than NO money at all. It's not like jobs grow on trees in China either. If you can't get anything else, that's still better than starving to death.

      That comment alone sounds a lot like Marie Antoinette asking the starving to eat cake if they can't get no bread.

      Bottom line is, this kind of practice SUCKS. And I'm glad we hear about it, even if it is Apple this time that gets the unwanted spotlight. But this kind of sweatshop labour is, amongst other things, what makes outsourcing to third world countries and countries with very poor social standards very attractive to corporations. So it is VERY much in your interest that this kind of exploitation ceases to exist.
      • by /ASCII (86998) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:16AM (#15524168) Homepage
        While I agree that sweatshops suck, I have yet to hear of any practical way to bring third world countries up to first world standard that does not involve exploiting the gap in labour cost between coutries.

        To put things simply, third world countries have inferior infrastructure, inferior education levels, inferior political stability and a non-existing domestic market, when compared to a first world country. The _only_ thing most third world countries have going for them is cheap labour.

        The theory is that by allowing companies to exploit cheap labour, the state is given enough money to invest in infrastructure, publich schooling, police and other things that are needed to bring in more companies to the country, which will in turn create higher demand for labour, which will drive up the cost of labour. This is a slow and painful process, where the future of a country is built on the broken backs of people living today, but we have seen countries like South Korea and Taiwan raise themselves from poverty to prosperity over the course of a few decades using this method. All the foreign aid and all the U2 concerts against poverty in the world have yet to raise a single country out of poverty.
        • The theory is that by allowing companies to exploit cheap labour, the state is given enough money to invest in infrastructure, publich schooling, police and other things that are needed to bring in more companies to the country, which will in turn create higher demand for labour, which will drive up the cost of labour.

          This is the standard capitalist theory but the path the China has taken has reversed this logic. Last month a "Frontline" report set this all out clearly. China used to have universal educa

          • China has taken has reversed this logic... China used to have universal education and health care but that is no longer the case. They eliminated free schooling and health care. The result is that rural workers must migrate to factories in the cities and live in dormitories to sent back their meagre wages to pay for school fees and health care.

            China's "patriotic education" wasn't much of an education to begin with. Moreover, it wasn't a constantly provided benefit either. The education system was shut

    • by Sentry21 (8183) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:02AM (#15524037) Journal
      - Reports about someone earning "X" per month are meaningless out of context. How much, exactly, do other workers in their locale earn? What is the overall cost of living? (Yes, I'm aware that the article makes reference to food and rent consuming "half" their salary.)

      Perhaps tech workers are in a different situation, but until I got my current job (six weeks ago), food and rent was consuming more than half of my wages, and I was making better money than most people I know. Think of someone on minimum wage, making $8/hr working 30 hours/wk in Montreal, where rent is likely to cost you $300-400, food is likely to cost $100 if you're lucky, public transit is another $70, heating is $100/mo in winter, and in a bad month, you're suddenly paying $700 in recurring bills on $960/mo before taxes. I'm finally in a situation where food and shelter isn't taking the vast majority of my wages, and I'm breathing a lot easier because of it.

      I read an article a week or so ago where someone mentioned that these sweat shops are welcomed by the local populace. Instead of selling their daughters into prostitution, people can get jobs at these factories, earning more money than they'd ever dreamed of, feeding their families well, and being far better off than they ever hoped, because of the huge disparity between our cost of living and theirs. These jobs are highly prized, and everyone wants their crack at them. By our standards, they're not fantastic, and it would be great if we could pay them all $20k/yr for their work, but think of what would happen if we did.

      If we paid these people wages that are 'acceptable' by North American standards, without thinking about what the local income is, then the entire economical balance in the area would be destroyed. Suddenly, you would have people making tens or hundreds of times more than anyone else in their area, bringing in huge amounts of income. With the market prices in the areas, the people would have no normal outlet for their expenditures, so they would either end up buying up all the land, farms, and businesses in the area, or just stockpiling money. Great for the banks, bad for inflation. When market prices begin to rise because the income of these nouveau riche is destroying the balance, everyone who doesn't have one of these jobs is going to be SOL, because they won't be able to afford the cost of living in this new economy.

      So before you make judgements for Apple contracting out to a company that hires a poor populace, take the time to find out the facts.
      • by Chosen Reject (842143) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:21AM (#15524231)
        Very true. I am in college right now and the basic necessitites of life (food, rent, and enough clothes to keep me covered) are more than half of my income.

        I was in Vietnam a year ago and found I could have taken one month of my earnings here and lived for nicely for quite a while there. A very filling nutritious meal at a restaurant was only the equivalant of $0.20. My wife and I bought a Viet drink for 17 people and still spent less than what one would cost us here in the states. I forgot to bring a pair of sandals to shower in so I just bought some for ~$0.50. I also purchased two shirts, a pair of pants and a pair of shorts for $1.45. I never asked how much homes cost exactly but my wifes parents sent her aunt $1000 and she used it to nearly triple the size of her home.

        I realize that was out in the jungles of Vietnam, but I can't imagine China is much different. People throw out conditions and numbers like they mean anything on their own. There does come a point where context is irrelavant, such as when employees are beaten, or used as sex slaves, but that's not the case here and context means a lot.

        If the cost of living is anything like what I saw in Vietnam, $50/month with half going to housing and food sounds just fine. Also 15 hours/day doesn't sound bad. My wife's family in Vietnam do that easily and they are some of the happiest people I know. Heck, my wife's mom does that here in the states and she's a very happy lady.

        This whole article rings hollow.

      • by Surt (22457) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:40AM (#15524430) Homepage Journal
        30 hours/week is where you went wrong.

        These people are working 15 hours per DAY . By tuesday they'd be done working in your cozy world.

        Also, I'm guessing that your half-your-pay apartment is not shared with 100 other people in bunks, mandated by your company as a condition of keeping your job. But that's just a guess.

      • Perhaps tech workers are in a different situation, but until I got my current job (six weeks ago), food and rent was consuming more than half of my wages, and I was making better money than most people I know. Think of someone on minimum wage, making $8/hr working 30 hours/wk in Montreal, where rent is likely to cost you $300-400, food is likely to cost $100 if you're lucky, public transit is another $70, heating is $100/mo in winter, and in a bad month, you're suddenly paying $700 in recurring bills on $96
    • China is a very different environment than the rest of the world, something we often forget. With over a billion people, everything that can be done with manual labor is done with manual labor. Why use a backhoe when you can get ten people to dig a big hole in the ground? Chinese industry doesn't have the same incentives to automate when labor is so cheap. Besides, what would all those people do if they were out of work?

      On a related note, there are very few fat people in China. It's not from lack of
    • I'm fairly certain that this will be read by a number of people who think that corporations and corporate behavior are inherently "evil", and that the larger a company or business interest is, the more "evil" it is and indeed must be by definition, which is an awfully one-sided and half-blind way to look at corporations.

      While i agree with most of what you said, it's not unreasonable to think that a corporation has but one goal, to make money. It doesn't care how it does this, if it can do it legally or even
    • by Shivetya (243324) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:12AM (#15524126) Homepage Journal
      Ever notice there is no crying over the fact that the US/EU/Etc allows trade with China even though its known that China (or insert any country of your choice) has labor practices which are no liked/lawful/etc where the product is eventually sold?

      Why is that?

      Simple, its far easier for these activist to pick on corporations than governments. Governments don't care. People call corporations souless but governments are too. Worse we put these people in power only to have them ignore us.

      Plus one thing corporations do that governments don't do is pay you to shut up.

      Either stop all trade with countries whose labor practices don't agree with your local or shut the fuck up. Want to see your economy tank, fine, try to apply your laws to someone else's country before dealing with them.

      Hold Apple/Nike/etc accountable, yeah right. What a spineless concept. Requires no risk on those objecting.
      • by Surt (22457) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @12:08PM (#15524695) Homepage Journal
        Coming from the nearly the same hypothesis, I reach nearly the opposite conclusion.

        First, a minor difference, plenty of activists have protested and complained about the US making China a most favored nation trade partner. They would love to get that position reversed completely. Our congress has even made noise about reevaluating the current position regarding China and the WTO.

        However, I'd agree that the government basically doesn't care. And I don't think there is any practical way for an activist to make either government care. An individual corporation, such as apple, particularly one that makes a high price, high profit, non-necessity item like the ipod, however, makes an excellent target for a boycott threat.

        It's a very smart, reasonable, way to improve conditions in a gradual way.
      • I had this argument with a polisci friend of mine, and she won.

        First, to be brief, who owns the governments?

        Corporations are actually the bigger targets since they are less accountable than governments when it comes to international affairs. How do you regulate something that doesn't exist within anyone's borders? Yes, I'm sure Nike (or Ford) now has a nice PO Box in the states, and maybe a couple hundred office workers, but their full entity exists in various other places, and they could easily move.

        Sure
    • Free Tibet* (Score:3, Funny)

      by Phroggy (441) *
      * With purchase of second Tibet of equal or greater value
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @10:46AM (#15523890) Journal
    ... and have to pay half of that right back to the company for housing and food.
    It should be noted that by "the company" they mean Foxconn, not Apple. I don't really care for Apple but it should be noted that they are outsourcing the business to create parts of their iPods. Everyone does this. Hell, I challenge you to find a company that knows specifically where every single component in its product is made.

    Like all large corporations, I believe it's now in their best interest to make the most ethical choice regarding human rights. Even if it means charging another $10 per iPod.

    Apple should be given the chance to investigate and cancel their contracts before they're torn apart. Otherwise, if you wanted to ruin a company you could set up a shill business that has factories down in Latin America where the workers are beaten. Then route the parts you are selling to the company you want through that distribution center and alert the American media.
    • by eln (21727) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @10:55AM (#15523973) Homepage
      I agree that Apple should have the opportunity to investigate and cancel their contracts if necessary before we crucify them. However, it should have investigated this company more thoroughly for human rights issues before it awarded the contract in the first place. For failing to do this, Apple indeed deserves some heat if these allegations are true.

      Now that the allegations are out, Apple reputation as a "progressive" company relies on what they do next. If they ignore the allegations until they get too big, like Nike did, then their reputation will take a big hit. If they act immediately to investigate and take appropriate action, I think all will be forgiven and forgotten fairly quickly.
      • Well Apple doesnt have to go too far to look, wired already interviewed someone on the Foxxcom plant...

        Nicholas Lardy, a senior fellow at the pro-globalization International Institute for Economics, said Hon Hai has an "excellent reputation." He says factories in China operated by big global companies like Hon Hai are very different from smaller, indigenous operations. International giants usually enforce the same work practices in China as they do in other parts of Asia, or Europe and United States, acco

  • Sign me up! (Score:4, Funny)

    by richdun (672214) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @10:47AM (#15523900)
    Pay only $25/month for rent and food! Wow...sure, no visitors, 100 per room, but it'll be like being in college all over again.
    • Erh... consider that those 25 bucks are not really 25 bucks, but 30 hours of work per week.

      Still think it's so cheap?
    • Half your income for food and rent is not that outrageous - although living in a barracks is probably a little rough. It would be much more informative to indicate the median and average incomes of women in China is - it's probably less than $50/month.

      Also, an interesting comparison: If you make minimum wage in the US, that's a gross of around $11,000 per year - or just over $900 a month (I used 48 working weeks of 40 hours for annual income of $11040 at minimum wage of $5.75). I don't know where you live

  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @10:47AM (#15523911) Homepage Journal
    ...then stockpile all the U2 iPods [wikipedia.org] you can. They'll quickly become quite rare and collectible once Saint Bono gets wind of this.
  • OH NOES!!!1!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by superdan2k (135614) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @10:52AM (#15523944) Homepage Journal
    Good christ, I pay a damned sizeable portion of my income for rent and food. I have two jobs, and my typical work week goes well into the 60+ hours range with no overtime. Where's the news story on that?
    • Re:OH NOES!!!1!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by duffbeer703 (177751)
      The difference is, you chose the circumstances surrounding your employment and housing situation.

      In China, its somewhat different. You're living in a company dormitory, and they basically control every aspect of your life, from where you live to what you eat. The factories are likely exploiting young women from poor rural families who don't have many options... its difficult to marry, since an increasing number of rural Chinese young men are moving to the cities for work. Many of these girls end up in prost
    • by dr_dank (472072) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:16AM (#15524175) Homepage Journal
      • Your Recent Submissions

      superdan2k pays damned sizable portion of income for rent and food by dr_dank - status rejected

      Sorry man, I tried.
    • Re:OH NOES!!!1!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Surt (22457) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:34AM (#15524374) Homepage Journal
      Were you (literally) chained to your desk with no bathroom break for four hours at a time?

      Have you been threatened with physical assault and rape if you try to quit your job?

      Have you been raped on the job?

      Did you get to choose where you live for that half of your income? Is it in a room with a hundred other people in bunks?

      I'm not feeling all sorry for you, but change my mind.

  • by Ignignot (782335) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @10:53AM (#15523954) Journal
    This is all meaningless hyperbole. For example, who can consider working on Apple products "work"? Instead it is like Christmas play time every day. When you work on an Apple product, you are like an elf in Santa's north pole! Sure you only get 50 bucks a month, but you can go visit the marmalade forest and make bubblegum pie whenever you want!

    And furthermore, you get good karma which ensures that you will go to heaven and receive 72 virgin powerbooks with infinite Altivec and a double dual core. We should be envious of these lucky women. They are an inspiration to us all.
  • Don't forget "latte-drinking"
  • It's undisputed that most of Apple's products are made and assembled in China. In recent financial filings, Apple says most of its manufacturing is performed by third-party vendors in Taiwan, China, Japan, Korea and Singapore; and assembled in China.


    From this, I take it there are three possible realities:

    1. Apple knew of the work conditions, and set up the "third party vendor" system so that they didn't have to hear how it was done - kind of like Ken Lay tried with Enron. "Oh, my goodness, I am shocked - shocked! - to hear that there are bad labor systems being used!" And then they can plead ignorance.

    2. Apple didn't know about the work conditions. Their system was "Look - here's the work, let's go tour the plant, looks good - modern equipment, this will work. Quality of the iPods is good, so let's go with this." They didn't look into the work conditions - though I'd be curious to see if there was any kind of contract stating "treat workers kindly".

    3. The situation is not as bad as it looks. I'm not counting out the original article, but since it does mention that there are several countries, including Japan (which I understand has decent employee laws compared to other countries), it could be this plant is an isolated incident - but 1 and 2 still apply about "What did Apple know, and when did they know it". It could even be that the rules of "employ mainly women" was used as a good point - "Let's give work to these women so they can earn a decent wage", which may now look bad. It's all about the intent.

    Either way, I would suggest there is only one answer: That Apple take immediate steps to show how it "Thinks different", and insure that no matter what the conditions are *now*, that those conditions are up to par with good employee relations.

    I have a lot of faith in Apple, but I'll find it very hard to purchase future products if these allegations are true, and the company that Jobs built is unwilling to take steps to ensure good living conditions for their employees.
    • I have a lot of faith in Apple, but I'll find it very hard to purchase future products if these allegations are true, and the company that Jobs built is unwilling to take steps to ensure good living conditions for their employees.

      Whose products will you purchase, then, exactly? This is exactly the type of reaction I talked about here [slashdot.org].
    • by agent dero (680753) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:05AM (#15524066) Homepage
      "I have a lot of faith in Apple, but I'll find it very hard to purchase future products if these allegations are true, and the company that Jobs built is unwilling to take steps to ensure good living conditions for their employees."

      Bullshit, bullshit, and more bullshit.

      It sounds like you're an american, so I'm going to reply based on that assumption. What kind of shoes do you wear? Most likely they were made in sweatshops. What kind of clothes? Do you eat fruit, ever? Most likely that was picked and processed by low-wage immigrant workers. Do you use any sort of electronics? Guess what, those were made by low wage workers too, probably in sweat shops.

      Hate to burst your progressive thinking little bubble, but, somebody who lives in California, will probably have to make more to live than somebody in rural Nebraska, the same applies here. In most counties like this, the major corporation that's got the sweat shops is the best job around.

      I'm not saying that I agree with this, but let's be honest, this is not an Apple factory, this is a company that Apple contracts with, because guess what Apple doesn't make the drives, chips, and a lot of other parts that go into their products.

      It's too early to be ranting, but let's be honest, in most first world countries, MANY aspects of our lives were produced in third world countries on the backs of sweatshop workers.
      • by Illserve (56215) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @12:09PM (#15524710)
        Damn right. There's an enormous amount of hypocrisy when people get outraged about these issues that they read about over the internet (via routers, and cables that were made with slave labor), sitting on a chair (that was made by slave labor), sipping their coffee made from beans (harvested by slave labor) in a plastic mug (you get the idea).

        Our entire way of life rests on the back of people making wages like this. We are essentially at the top of a huge pyramid, and this is hardly the first time in history this has happened. Every time you have a labor empire like we do, the people at home get to live it large. This was true with Rome, with England during its heydey of the Victorian era, and it's sure as shit true now with us.

        Get over it, because it's not just apple, it's everything you see around you. You can't get to work in the morning without benefitting from our labor empire in some way, whether you're driving, taking the bus or even just walking barefoot (some part of the paint on the crosswalk was probably manufactured or distilled overseas by someone making a wage that you might find uncomfortable).

        Just bear in mind that these people probably have it better than their neighbors who aren't making ipods. So don't petition to take away their livelihood with your ignorance of the basic laws of economics, which should tell you that if you're living like a king, someone, somewhere, is paying for it.
  • by indie1982 (686445) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @10:57AM (#15523994) Homepage
    You want cheap consumer electronic goods? That's what happens i'm afraid. Their manufacture will be farmed out to the cheapest bidder. And don't just think it's Apple doing this, it's all the big electronics companies. Hell it's not even just electronics, take the dairy industry. Farmers want a fair price for thier milk, the big supermarkets want cheap milk so you shop at their shops. So the big chains force the farmers into taking less money.
  • Why should anyone care about this?

    As long as the work is completely voluntary, the workers have decided that it beats the alternative. It's an improvement in their lives. Often times, a huge improvement - their families get enough to eat now. No one is doing anything wrong, and all the activity is mutually beneficial to all parties involved.

    It also doesn't change the way the computers work.

    Now I have to go back to drinking my coffee. It's fair trade, shade-grown coffee picked by virgin tribal girls unde
  • Well, I can't wait to see the iPod ad inspired parodies that this is likely to produce!
  • They did? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thebdj (768618) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @10:59AM (#15524014) Journal
    Sweatshops came back to bite Nike? Last I checked Nike is still one of the largest shoe makers in the world and the bulk of their labor is more then likely still done in a "sweatshop." This notion that consumers care is BS. People want to get shoes, clothes, electronics, and whatever else they desire at reasonable prices. The fact is if most these companies used standard wage practices we would be paying more for items, and if they were made in more industrialized countries we would probably go broke trying to buy half the stuff we wanted.

    In the end, most consumers really do not care where the products they purchase came from. They are just glad that they have their new HDTV, designer clothing, or iPod. This notion that people will do something about the sweatshop labor is absurd. A few people might not buy one, but trust me, most people who want one will still buy one without a second thought.
  • Luxury! (Score:4, Funny)

    by edunbar93 (141167) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @10:59AM (#15524015)
    iPods are made in China by women who work 15 hours/day, make $50/month, and have to pay half of that right back to the company for housing and food.

    I don't know about you, but I sure wish that my living expenses were $25 a month. Heck, I wish they were only half of my income!
  • I though all of us Mac users drove the New Bug because it matched our iPods so well.
  • by ShyGuy91284 (701108) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:02AM (#15524042)
    This is stupid. I look around my room, and It's probably likely at least half, if not more like 80% of the stuff here probably has some sweatshop labor in it (with 20% being made in the US if I push it). Although Apple and the related company are no small fries, they are in the overall picture of this sweatshop labor stuff. Ohhh, Apple indirectly uses sweatshop labor. Time to gang up on them, and about every other company that does it, especially directly.
  • > The situation is too murky for a rush to judgment on Apple's ethics here, and it may well meet
    > minimum global standards.

    What's a `minimum global standard` then? Something fair and reasonable, or just some law cobbled together by the WTO, IMF, UN and other completely fair, unbiased parties with no vested interests?
  • by onkelonkel (560274) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:07AM (#15524089)
    I had to get up in the morning at ten o'clock at night, half an hour before I went to bed, eat a lump of cold poison, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad would kill us, and dance about on our graves singing "Hallelujah"
  • by csoto (220540) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:10AM (#15524108)
    It still matters to me. I just bought a pair of New Balance shoes, and I only buy NB athletic shoes because they still make some in the USA (check the inside label, because they also make some models abroad). I'm also a bit of a woodworker/tool junkie, and I refuse to buy tools made in China. I'll settle for Japan, Europe or Mexico if USA isn't available. But nothing from Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, etc.

    The only people to blame are consumers. Demand something else and you'll get it. Settle, and you get sweatshop labor. "Free Tibet" isn't just a bumper sticker slogan. If you really cared about it, you would change your ways.
    • by GauteL (29207) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:44AM (#15524472)
      "I'm also a bit of a woodworker/tool junkie, and I refuse to buy tools made in China. I'll settle for Japan, Europe or Mexico if USA isn't available. But nothing from Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, etc."

      I just hope you realise that this could actually also exclude products that are made by decently paid skillful workers in third world countries... and would just make it so much harder for business in these countries to flourish, basically making sure they stay third world countries for the forseeable future.

      Also, sometimes things like child labour and sweatshops is a much more complex issue than you may think. In many areas of the world, families would not survive without their children working and extensive boycotts have had very unfortunate side effects.

      The only way of making sure is to research the individual companies, which may not always be that easy.

      --
      Gaute
  • by CokoBWare (584686) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:22AM (#15524240)
    I asked my Chinese co-worker who lived in Beijing all of her life, and she said that $50US/month (400 yuan) is very little money. She said that welfare (social assistance for the politically correct) in china pays roughly around 400 yuan/month. She said it's also possible that the workers come from rural areas, where farming pays very little. The women may earn more money in this situation than by working on their farm.

    However, she said absolutely she thought the numbers would indicate that this was a sweatshop, and the term she was more inclined to use was "slave labour".
    • by KefabiMe (730997) <garth@NospAm.jhonor.com> on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @02:22PM (#15526191) Journal

      There are two different social factions in China. Let's call them the "City-Dweller" and the "Country-Bumkin".

      The City-Dweller is the social type that gets taken care of. Lives in the city, makes a decent living, and is required to retire at a certain age. They are also paid to retire as well.

      People who don't live in the city have it much worse. It is these rural areas that really feel the brunt of China's economy. It can take several "Country-Bumkins" their entire lives to earn enough money to become a "City-Dweller". These folks are very poor and are the type that are usually happy to work in a sweatshop.

      So, to make this clear. People in the City would never work in a sweatshop. Rural folks who can't afford food are really happy to work at these places. Sweatshops suck, but they are still an improvement for many people around the world. Personally, I avoid Walmart and buy USA-made products whenever I can.

  • by earthbound kid (859282) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:31AM (#15524338) Homepage
    Is there any evidence that children are working at the factory? Is there any evidence that people are being made to work there against their will? Were people lied to about the salary or working conditions before they took the job?

    If not, then what's happening is adults are being told about a job, and they decide to take it. Presuming that they're rational human beings, this means that this is the best job they could find and they decided it was worth the drawbacks. Why are people clamoring to take away their choice about this? Do we think that we know better than these people do what kind of job they should take? That's paternalism, and it's highly misplaced. The Chinese aren't children. We have no right to tell them that should or shouldn't be willing to do a job.

    It would be nice if Apple's subsidiaries could pay their workers more, but the reality of the situation is, the workers took the job knowing full well what they were getting into. If they thought the job sucked too much to take, they wouldn't sign up for it, and the price of labor would increase. As it is, presuming a free market, the workers consider the money the best they can get. This means that if the job weren't there, they would be taking even worse jobs. So, by all means, let's not pillory Apple into leaving China. Why? Because that's what would hurt the workers the most. They'd get stuck with even crappier jobs, but hey, we could all pretend global inequity doesn't exist and assuage the guilt of Western affluence.
  • Normal for that area (Score:5, Informative)

    by DrRobert (179090) * <rgbuice@@@mac...com> on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:36AM (#15524390) Homepage
    I have spent a lot of time near the area where the ipods are manufactured. It is a huge city that is almost entirely industrial park as far as the eye can see. It is a repeating pattern of factory, dorm, factory, dorm, on and on. The workers seem to make about a dollar a day and from the plant owners I talked to there is a labor shortage and they have to bid against other factories to get the better workers, the result of that bidding is about a dollar a day right now. That is why companies are starting to leave China and farm out work to other countries with cheaper labor. On they whole though, although the people live in dorms, they seemed to have a reasonable amount of buying power. At the plants I saw, it was not required that they lived in the dorms, but it was the cheapest way for them to live. All the consumer goods in China cost absolutely nothing so I would assume the people could buy a reasonable amount on a dollar a day. It sounds like the ipod plants are normal market-competative employers for the area.
  • Spin Alert! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mengel (13619) <mengel.users@sourceforge@net> on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:41AM (#15524435) Homepage Journal
    Okay, so according to undp.org's China data [undp.org] (an independant report commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)) 46% of Chinas population earns less then $2/day, and 16% earn less than $1/day.

    So if you assume 4, 6-day work weeks per month, thats about 24 work days/month $2/day == $48/month.

    So they're doing better than 46% of the population of China on total income. 50% of your pay on room and board is pretty reasonable.

    And not having visitors can be a bonus if you're a young single gal worried about her virtue (which I'm told actually happens in China ;-))

    I don't hear anything here about anyone being beaten, worked more than 50 hours/week, etc. And given the slant here, they would have mentioned it if they had a whisper of it.

    And compare this to old U.S. "mining towns" where between rent and the company store for food you spent 90% of your income on room and board, it's really quite good.

    • Ouch! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mengel (13619)
      Actually, reviewing TFA, they do say the folks are working 15 hours/day. That is pretty steep. Sigh.
  • by djupedal (584558) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:48AM (#15524514)
    make $50/month

    Let's see...that would be 400 RMB...it's more like 1,000 ~ 1,500 (800RMB/100USD), and that holds with the norms around the country. To them, it is a significant amount of money, and much better than the $15.00 the entire family pulls down each month back on the farm (if they get lucky).

    and have to pay half of that right back to the company for housing and food.

    These factories fall at both ends of the spectrum. Either you get paid, and then you have to buy things such as the company newsletter, giving up something less than 50%, or you don't get paid at all. Having to kick back 50% is clearly an assumption of a writer making up stats where they don't have them in the first place.

    The article also claims the workers live in dormitories where they are housed 100 per room, and are not allowed visitors.

    More like 15 ~ 30 per room...unless it is a large hall, and then 100 seems too low, and visitors are kept out for two reasons... 1.) The worker's entire family would move in 2.)Evil doers would cruise around looking to steal anything not nailed down.

    I was an Operations Manager at one of the better small factories (Shenzhen), with 300 line workers in 25 dorms, and believe me, inside the dorm was much more safe than outside. We had two murders in six months that both resulted from purse snatching episodes that went from bad to horrible. Are the dorms cramped...yes...unlivable - not by local standards over the years, no. Some college dorms are no better. Being cramped is not the issue...safety is.

    Apple has always taken pains to insure they stay on the politically correct side of international law when dealing with vendors in developing countries such as China, India, etc. The factories today are far better than they were just five years back. This particular factory style originated from when the Taiwanese firms came in 15 ~ 20 years ago. Back then, there was nothing between Dongguan & HongKong but salty marshes. Today, as mentioned, Foxconn, Kodak and others have moved in and things are changing very fast. Guangdong province set up toll-free hotlines so that workers can blow the whistle on any factory not making payday, etc. Want bad? Look at the coal mines in the North...
  • by dr.badass (25287) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:49AM (#15524518) Homepage
    What part of "Made In China" was unclear? Have people been imagining that iPods were made in some special part of China where labor conditions aren't shitty?
    • Exactly!

      You want your IPod cheap, reliable, and with as few scratches on the screen as possible. You don't care about the labor behind it.

      The same labor problems exist for just about anything that has "Made in China" on it.

      It's just a smear campaign.

      Note: This message types on a microsoft keyboard made in Mexico.
  • by Lord_Slepnir (585350) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:50AM (#15524526) Journal
    "These are the first iPods made by kids for kids! And we pass the *wink* slavings on to you!"
  • And. . . ? (Score:3, Informative)

    by UnknowingFool (672806) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @12:05PM (#15524675)

    I'm not going to defend working practices in China. They pale in contrast to Western standards. My issue is why this is news at all. Apple is not the first or last company to have products made overseas in sweatshops. If you really want to target a company, go after Walmart. They may not make any products overseas but they are one of the reasons many companies have moved manufacturing overseas. In order to do business with Walmart, a company has to continuously drive down cost as much as possible. For some companies they only way to save costs is to move manufacturing to China. Watch the Frontline episode Is Walmart Good for America? [pbs.org] and make up your own mind.

  • by twem2 (598638) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @12:52PM (#15525133) Journal
    Conditions in sweatshops are bad, but they are better than the alternatives by a long way, and unlike the alternatives they mean that people do not starve due to state imposed restrictions on labour or trade.
    These increase wages, increase skills, enable people to learn how to use new technology. Those who wish to will leave and set up their own businesses, and then employ more people. As competition for workers increases so do wages.
    And at the same time, it means that we in the west get cheaper produce, and can spend our time doing the things we're good at like designing iPods, or writing software.

    The simple fact is that people would not work there if it wasn't worth their while. To treat them otherwise borders on racist, they're foreign or poor and don't know what's good for them and just won't do what's best unless we tell them to or make them...

    It makes me sick that people would rather have people starve than be able to take control over their lives. We should be celebrating greater employment opportunities, greater opportunity to trade. It is what made the USA and the UK rich nations, why do we seek to deny others those opportunities?

    If there was no prospect of progress, I'd join in with criticism of sweat shops, but the truth is they are a step on the ladder to greater prosperity and a better future, a future which they are rapidly progressing towards.
    (just think, an estimated $60 million people starved to death in China after Mao's 'Great Step Forwards', the economy was in tatters, look how far China has come).
  • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @12:55PM (#15525165)
    Freakin' echo chamber. One person says something, others repeat it, whether it's right or wrong.

    The original article claims the iPod factory is 200,000 people, despite the fact that Foxconn only employees 211,000 people total. The Longhua campus has about 200,000 people. Not all of them make iPods.

    Then the Wired article repeats two paragraphs almost word for word and adds a little more info, like Invatec (giving a horrible link) makes iPods for Apple.

    Except they don't. Inventec (http://www.forbes.com/personaltech/2004/11/18/cx_ ld_1118ipod.html) makes iPods for Apple (Foxconn does too).

    These stores are nearly-fact free. And as to people being surprised about this, did they look at the back of their iPod? They didn't see the "Made in China" mark? Or they thought perhaps it was made in China, but Apple still paid employees $50,000 a year?

    These people make decent money. That's why it is difficult for Chinese to get one of these jobs, many people compete for them. People just don't have any idea of the cost of living in other countries. Heck, look at me above, putting down $50,000 a year for factory workers! That's my Bay Area experience messing me up, where I grew up in the Rust Belt, it would be more like $38,000!
  • 1/2 my salary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by brundlefly (189430) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @02:03PM (#15525941)
    I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, not far from Apple worldwide corporate headquarters. I work as a software engineer, sometimes 15 hours a day.

    More than half of my salary goes to my lodging and food.
  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @02:05PM (#15525963) Homepage
    "MacWorld summarizes an article published in the U.K., stating that Apple's iPods are made in China by women who work 15 hours/day, make $50/month, and have to pay half of that right back to the company for housing and food. The article also claims the workers live in dormitories where they are housed 100 per room, and are not allowed visitors."

    Without passing judgement on whether it's good or bad, I have been to Beijing, and seen the living conditions of the lower classes up close. What is described above would be an upgrade for some. So while it may be a bad thing, don't get the impression that it is slave labor or indentured servitude - the people who work there are problably happy to have the job.

    Finding a way to improve labor practices in China would be good. But if it leads to those people losing their jobs, it would (at least in the short run) be a bad thing.

    Again, not saying the present state is defensible or good, nor that there are not good paths to improvement, just adding some information for thought.
  • Am I the only one... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @03:03PM (#15526620)
    ...who smells a hatchet job perhaps initiated by an iPod competitor? Someone knew someone else and owed a favor and all that.

    As for labor conditions overseas- feh...

  • Doesn't hold up... (Score:4, Informative)

    by jordandeamattson (261036) <jordandm@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @03:30PM (#15526870) Homepage
    All -

    Based on what I know about labor costs in China at present, these charges don't hold up.

    For background, factory workers (usually young women), are not so surprisingly in short supply and high demand in the manufacturing areas of the PRC these day.

    Given this situation, they are demanding better wages and working conditions. The wages and working conditions are no where near what I have seen in the last 10 years of working with China and bear no resemblance to what is the market now.

    1. Wages
    Wages for factory workers are actually above those of recent college graduates (there is a glut of college graduates). A good college grad can expect to make 1500 to 2000 RMB (about USD 180 to 250) starting out. A factory work will make 1800 to 2400 RMB.

    2. Room & Board Chargs
    As part of the job package in China, a factory work receives housing and food. They aren't charged for these.

    3. Housing Conditions
    By and large they are college like and are above the average for Chinese housing for young adults who are living at home.

    Based on my first hand knowledge of China, I have to heavily discount the claims in this article and question the rest of it.

    Yours,

    Jordan

One small step for man, one giant stumble for mankind.

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