Earlier we reported (or rather, culled from various internet sources) information regarding allegations made against Apple’s iPod factories in Longhua and Suzhou. Well, now Apple has responded to these sweatshop allegations. Here’s some of their defense:
Foxconn Electronics, the subject of the story, has fired off a torrent of words in its own defense. One of the ways in which Foxconn disputed the story was in disputing statistics. For example, the company has denied having a factory in Suzhou, which housed an “iPod city,” according to the Mail story. And to the Mail’s claim that one factory employed 200,000 people, Foxconn countered with the assertion that its entire companywide workforce was only 160,000.
In addition, a company spokesman has said for the record that Foxconn complies with China’s minimum wage law and has provided for its workers free laundry, sports areas, and even libraries.
It all sounds a little too rosy to be true, if you ask me. The truth, as is often the case in these situations, is likely somewhere in the middle.
And what of Apple’s official policies?
Apple, although apparently not an EICC member, states in its Supplier Code of Conduct that a “work week should be restricted to 60 hours, including overtime, and workers should be allowed at least one day off per seven-day week.”
A Chinese report states that the workers aren’t allowed to leave the premises often or for long periods of time, and if they are caught in violation of rules they are made to stand for long periods of times or to do pushups (which has the added effect of increasing their strength and stamina, and making them better factory workers). The factory guards, it seems, are armed (and quite possibly dangerous).
The debate is far from over, but plenty of people have already weighed in against Apple, like this fellow who calls these factories iPod gulags. We know that our iPod couldn’t have possibly been made in China, because it broke after less than a year of use. We lay the blame on those folks in Taiwan province that assembled the thing — sabotage!
More iPod factory cartoons can be seen here.
Also on Shanghaiist:
Think (about exploitation) differently