With the approach of the possible iPad 3 announcement (March 7th, 2012) more and more attention is being focused on where Apple’s products come from. Nightline has done a short insightful piece on Foxconn one of the major suppliers of Apple gadgetry. I’ve taken the time (less than half an hour) to watch the video. The snippet above should help you answer your child’s questions “Where do iPhones come from?”
The full video exposes a very clean production line with rows and rows of non-robotized production lines. Instead of augmenting production lines with humans like major U.S. production lines to something like that of our auto industry the production line has the Chinese people which is augmented with a bit of technology. Simply backwards from U.S. expectations. The wage is the equivalent of $1.70 per hour. This is extremely low in comparison with some States the U.S. that now dictate more than $10 per hour as a minimum wage.
The Nightline piece continues on to focus on the nets around the lower parts of the buildings. These “jumper” or suicide nets were in direct response to a clustered group of suicides that occurred at Foxconn. However Foxconn is quick to point out that their internal suicide rate is lower than the national average. Bill Weir continues on to show the 7 to a room dorms that workers reside in and call home. Then moves on to show the masses waiting to apply for jobs with Foxconn. He discusses the suicides, the reason for applying, and where the applicants are coming from to work in the city. All of this exposes a significant desire to work by the part of the people. It also shows that the people will go to where the jobs are – just like Americans.
Foxconn illustrates the case of adjustment to globalization and the time it takes to occur. From the highlights of The World Is Flat until now we’ve known the changing landscape of the global economy. China’s strength is their people; all 1.3 Billion of them and they are employing them. Over time their nation, economy and standard of living will evolve just as our has over the years. Generally the workers looked fed and as anyone that works a 12 shift a bit tired. Having worked in the slime and glaze lines of Silver Lining Seafood for 12, 16, and 18 hr days I can tell you this is difficult work. I’m not excusing Foxconn ignoring the facts about repetitive actions or job stress; the health of every human is very important and these issues should be addressed. It appears from the Nightline episode that those issues are slowly being addressed and like all things will take some time. But the existence of Foxconn is part of the Capitalism model which the U.S. employs and encourages throughout the world; supply and demand at an agreed upon price.
Surprisingly the issue that was addressed very little was the Aluminum dust explosions. Safety above all else should be integral to these operations. In that regard it looks like Foxconn and thus ultimately Apple have some work to do.
[via ABC’s Nightline]