A man posing as Apple CEO Steve Jobs takes part in a protest against Foxconn in Hong Kong. Photo: AP
- Workers required to sign 'no-suicide' pacts
- Military style managers humiliate staff
- Standing up for over 14 hours a day
- Up to 100 hours overtime a month
- Wages as little as $186 a month
If you're frustrated at being unable to buy an iPad 2, spare a thought for the Chinese workers who may never be able to afford one of the shiny new gadgets but are literally dying to get them out fast enough to meet Western demand.
A new report into conditions at Apple's manufacturing partner, Foxconn, has found slave labour conditions remain, with staff complaining of being worked to tears, exposure to harmful disease, pay rates below those necessary to survive and military-style management that routinely humiliates workers.
Advertisement: Story continues below
Workers toil at one of Foxconn's factories in China.
In compiling its report, Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) visited Foxconn factories in Shenzhen, Chengdu and Chongqing and interviewed 120 workers in March and April this year. SACOM is a non-profit Hong Kong-based organisation formed in 2005 to monitor and improve working conditions in Chinese factories.
Following about 13 suicides at Foxconn factories last year, Apple visited China and concluded that Foxconn had taken appropriate measures to improve conditions. Despite this, SACOM in its research found that onerous and in some cases illegal working conditions remain.
Workers required to sign no-suicide pacts
Local and mainland Chinese university students play dead to highlight the cause of Apple factory workers.
Conditions at Foxconn's two Chengdu factories, which exclusively produce Apple iPads, were among the worst reported. While nets have been installed to catch suicidal workers, factory staff are reportedly required to sign "no-suicide" pacts which also give licence to Foxconn to institutionalise them if it sees fit.
Workers at Chengdu say they are routinely humiliated and scolded by management. One was forced to stand in a corner with his hands behind his back because he giggled with a colleague. Others have been required to write confession letters to their supervisors after making mistakes and in some cases read the letters out in front of colleagues.
"Some of my roommates weep in the dormitory. I want to cry as well but my tears have not come out," said 19-year-old Chengdu worker Chen Liming.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.