Nightline’s Bill Weir was the first reporter, complete with camera crew, to be granted access to a Foxconn factory, the biggest member of Apple’s supply chain responsible for devices such as the iPhone 4S and the iPad 2. Weir was granted access to a factory responsible for the assembly of the iPad.
If you’re an Apple fan, you might have been at awe upon opening that iconic white box of the highly popular iPad. What about Foxconn’s factory workers? What would be their reaction be after putting these gadgets together?
Once Weir enters the facility, he first sets eyes on massive machines and robots, which he describes as “like a scene out of Wall-E”. However, his main concern was the actual people behind Apple’s devices.
Weir reveals that Foxconn’s factory workers are composed mostly of “teenagers from the countryside” who repeat the same task six days a week. The fatigue and boredom sometimes drive some of these workers to suicide (18 cases of suicide in only a few years), which is why the factory installed suicide nets around the buildings. Foxconn’s response to overwhelming pressure from various groups was opening a counseling center and increasing their worker’s wages by 25 cents an hour, which is still too low for the government to deduct taxes.
Despite these extremely low wages, hordes of would-be workers from China’s countryside flock to Foxconn city in Shenzhen, China, hoping to painstakingly put together Apple products part by part.
Weir also showed his iPad to factory worker Zhou Xiaoying, a worker responsible for “carving thousands of Apple logos on the backs of iPads”. She has never seen a working iPad nor have enough to afford one. The report is an eye-opener for those of us who lust for gadgets. Maybe now you might think more of the people who toiled making these products, just to satisfy your need for the latest devices.
FLA (Fair Labor Association) initially described Foxconn factories to be “first-class”. Now, it says that it is plagued by “tons of issues”. FLA’s full report on these “issues” will be published in March. We’ll keep you posted once the report comes out.