As you may be aware, Apple’s labor practices in China have been under heavy criticism in the recent months. A lot of the criticism came after the news of multiple suicides at the Foxconn factory and deadly explosions on the iPad production line. However, no news reporter has ever been allowed to step foot into the factory, until recently.
ABC News Anchor Bill Weir was recently given exclusive access into the Foxconn factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu, China, where some of the best-selling gadgets, including the iPhone and iPad, are produced. This is the first time any news reporter has been allowed to enter the factory and he is quick to point out that ABC’s parent company, Disney, has very close connections with Apple.
In a special edition of ABC Nightline cleverly named “iFactory” that aired on Tuesday, he gives viewers a special look inside the factory and shares the responses various executives, employees, and family members provided to his questions.
If you’ve been keeping up with the news on this issue, Weir doesn’t really reveal anything new. The top complaints from the employees are “low pay” and “long hours”. Employees work 12 hours daily for less than $2 an hour with two 1-hour meal breaks and share a dorm room with seven strangers.
An interesting fact is that Apple products are mostly made by hand without any high-tech machines.
There has been a lot of criticism regarding child labor and while Weir didn’t see anyone in their early teens, he did note that “no one looked above 30″ and many were around 18 or 19.
Weir was also present when thousands of young people gathered at a recruiting center in hopes of getting a job, with the company planning to hire 80% of them due to huge demand for the gadgets. Despite all the bad publicity from the press, the job is far better than any other job the people can find and many of them come from poor impoverished rural areas. These jobs significantly improved the lives of their families back home.
Foxconn produces gadgets for dozens of different companies besides Apple, including HP, Dell, Sony, and Nintendo, but Weir states that the largest company takes the heat for everyone.
If you missed Tuesday’s episode of Nightline, you can watch the full episode online here (USA only).
Did you watch the Nightline episode? Does it make you think differently about Apple products? What are your thoughts about this issue in general? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.