“Apple never cared about anything other than increasing product quality and decreasing production cost. Workers’ welfare has nothing to do with their interests.” –Li Mingqi, former Foxconn manager
Foxconn operated its factories under harmful working conditions away from prying eyes for decades. Then, as if all of a sudden, it caught a wave of brutal publicity. Suicides. Factory explosions. A terrible audit by Apple. A story about mass poisoning from unapproved chemicals. Until recently Foxconn wasn’t a name you probably ever heard; but now stories appear all over about its employment of children, blacklist for supposed troublemakers, low pay, 18-hour shifts, and cramped windowless dormitories.
“This American Life” listeners will point you to this riveting episode starring Mike Daisey, who “performs an excerpt that was adapted for radio from his one-man show ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.’ A lifelong Apple superfan, Daisey sees some photos online from the inside of a factory that makes iPhones, starts to wonder about the people working there, and flies to China to meet them.”
There are a few mitigating caveats to the Foxconn story. All of this reporting ignores the fact that the suicide rate at Foxconn is actually lower than the overall suicide rate of China. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has repeatedly argued that the flagship factory in Shenzhen has made a positive difference for the people who live there, upgrading a rice paddy economy into steady paychecks. And most harshly, it takes aim squarely at Apple when most high-profile tech companies employ workers at the Foxconn plant (IBM, Nokia, Intel, Sony, Toshiba, Motorola and many more).
Perhaps unfairly, but Apple seems to be the company that can most do something about it. Also unfairly, Apple seems to be the company that owes it to their customers to get it done. And their customers are demanding it — when these reports began to surface, many Apple fans felt betrayed. More than 136,000 people have signed a SumofUs.org petition demanding the next iPhone be made “ethically.”
That probably won’t happen. But until it does, you’ll have people putting together infographics like the one below, stamped with “iKill” on top and full of easy-to-read facts about some truly bad stuff.
Infographic created by: Online MBA Programs
• 10 Snarkiest Tweets About the New iPad
• Yes, This Is an iPad Case You Can Have Sex With
• Apple Design Demigods Now Ripping Off Stock Photos
• Someone Decided It Was a Good Idea to Give Orangutans iPads