Archive for the ‘Outsourcing’ category

iPad Uses Slave Labor

14 June 2010

Foxconn is the trade name of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., a Taiwan firm with operations in China that is arguably the largest manufacturer of electronics and computer components in the world. Almost every major company in America contracts with them: Apple, Microsoft, Motorola, Amazon, Cisco, Intel, Dell, HP, etc. and Foreign companies as well: Sony, Nintendo, Nokia, and many others.

How does Foxxconn snag so many manufacturing contracts?

Actually, the answer is quite simple: slavery.

They can produce Mac minis, iPods, iPads, iPhones, motherboards, PlayStations, Wiis, Xboxes, cell phones, kindles, and routers cheaper than anyone else. To do that they require their workers to put in 11- to 12-hour shifts, six or seven days a week amid fumes and dust and constant harassment. No one can talk while working and you better have strong kidneys because restroom breaks are severely limited.

The working conditions are so difficult that there has been a spate of worker suicides at the plant (Between Jan 2010 to May 2010, twelve Foxconn employees attempted suicide, ten succeeded), according to Bloomberg News.

Now one would think that a big company like Foxconn would take measures to prevent such things from happening again. Perhaps better working conditions, fewer hours, better pay? They did better than that: they installed nets near worker dormitories to catch them should they jump. Now that is smart business. Spend a few hundred on nets and keep the price of manufacturing steady and cheap.

Apple did investigate but found most of the charges baseless. Apple CEO Steve Jobs has said a number of times that Foxconn “is not a sweatshop.” Could that be because T.C. Gou, the brother of Foxconn founder Terry Gou, plans on opening 100 stores to sell Mac computers and iPod music players in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, by the end of next year?

I am not a person opposed to outsourcing; however when the outsourced workers are actually company slaves, I believe it is time for American companies to switch to other sources and vet those sources better.

It is time American consumers demanded that the products they buy be slave-free.

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