Ever wonder how you get such awesome electronics so cheaply? Ever wonder why Walmart and Apple are the top companies in their field? Tight profit margins for their suppliers that enable high profits. Tight profit margins that require the suppliers to use slave labour in prisons and sweat-shop labour in factories. You think your job is bad? You think no good has ever come from labour unions? Try supplying the most profitable, most proprietorial corporation in the world with its newest, slightly different gadget each year. Can't live without you cellphone? Try living while making them.
Below is an article re-posted from DailyTech about the working conditions at Apple's biggest supplier, where the only "labour movement" is downward.
Wish you would step back from that ledge my friend./ You could cut ties with all the lies / That you've been living in.
Increasing attention has been paid to the sharp increase in suicides this year at Foxconn's Shenzhen factory which manufactures iPods, iPads, and iPhones. It also fills orders from a broad list of clientele including Dell, HP, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony. With at least one employee dying from exhaustion as well, the pressure is on for Foxconn and its Taiwanese owner Hon Hai Precision Industry Ltd. to enact changes.
In the long term Foxconn is considering moving to Vietnam in order to lower labor costs, or replacing employees with robots at an automated facility in Taiwan. For now, it's using other measures to try to cut the suicide rate in China in the short term.
Among these measures appear to be a set of newly installed safety nets at some of its facilities. A tipster sent a photo of some of these nets in to Gizmodo. As the site points out, the company has put out no official release about the nets, which span between the kind of residential high rises that employees have previously jumped from. The nets may serve some other purpose, but its appears they may have at least been in part put up to cushion employees' falls.
Foxconn is also raising its employees wages. And its brought in a host of experts including Buddhist monks to release the souls of the dead from purgatory and to flood the plant floors with soothing melodies. It also has created "anger rooms" in which its employees can beat away their rage and frustration.
Most U.S. manufacturers turn a blind eye to these kind of issues in China. However, after much criticism Apple has taken to conducting yearly working condition studies. Its latest one showed a variety of problems including overworked, underpaid employees, and the use of child labor.
In the wake of these problems Apple and other U.S. firms have shown some signs that they're looking to adopt firmer stances with their suppliers to reduce these kinds of problems.