This past May on a Friday evening, there was an explosion at Foxconn Building A5 which is the factory that the iPad was manufactured. Two people were killed immediately and dozens of people were injured. Two years ago 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical ot clean iPhone screens. Apple’s growth is leading to unfair working conditions in China.
?Apple never cared about anything other than increasing product quality and decreasing production cost,? stated former Foxconn manager Li Mingqi. Li is currently suing Foxconn over his dismissal. ?Workers? welfare has nothing to do with their interests.?
Employees at Foxconn are working excessive hours seven days per week and they live in dorms when not working. Some people say that workers stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk. Apple was warned about the hazardous conditions inside of the Chengdu plant before the explosion happened.
Apple is not the only electronics company that takes advantage of cheap labor and immoral business practices in China. Dell, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Lenovo, Motorola, Nokia, Sony, and Toshiba also has their laptops, video game consoles, smartphones, digital cameras, etc. manufactured in Chinese factories.
?We?ve known about labor abuses in some factories for four years, and they?re still going on,? stated a former Apple executive in an interview with The New York Times. ?Why? Because the system works for us. Suppliers would change everything tomorrow if Apple told them they didn?t have another choice.?
?If half of iPhones were malfunctioning, do you think Apple would let it go on for four years?? asked the executive.
In 2005, some of Apple’s top executives gathered at their headquarters for a meeting about the codes of conduct in their supply chain. They ordered their suppliers to treat workers with respect and dignity and make sure that the manufacturing processes were environmentally responsible. The year after, The Mail UK secretly visited a Foxconn factory in Shenzhen, China where iPods were manufactured to give a report on the workers there. The workers had long hours and had to do push-ups as punishment. The executives at Apple were shocked by the report and wanted the conditions changed immediately.
Apple audited the factory and ordered improvements. The executives undertook a series of initiatives that included an annual audit report. Apple inspected 396 facilities including the company’s direct suppliers and their sub-tier suppliers. All of the audits had consistent violations of Apple’s code of conduct. Some of the violations included involuntary labor, under-age workers, record falsifications, and improper disposal of hazardous waste.
?We could have saved lives, and we asked Apple to pressure Foxconn, but they wouldn?t do it,? stated a consultant at Business for Social Responsibility. ?Companies like H.P. and Intel and Nike push their suppliers. But Apple wants to keep an arm?s length, and Foxconn is their most important manufacturer, so they refuse to push.?
A couple of days ago, I reported that Apple had their best quarter ever. Perhaps they seriously consider giving back to the suppliers that are making their products. They certainly have more than enough in the bank to do so.