Apple’s China manufacturer accused of bad labor practice


While Apple fans are eagerly awaiting for new product launches and developments at next month’s Apple World Wide Developers Conference, a different attitude towards its Chinese contract manufacturer Foxconn is taking shape.

Taiwan-based Foxconn which manufactures Apple, Dell and Nokia gadgets is being accused of maltreatment of workers. On Tuesday, a Foxconn employee climbed to the top of a factory building and jumped to his death. It was the 10th suicide of a Foxconn employee in the space of a year. Such behavior may have been influenced by the company’s strict rules at work. 

Foxconn employs 300,000 workers at its Shenzhen factories and contributes more than 10 billion yuan ($1.5bn) to the city’s tax revenues. But as imposing as it may seem, employees are forbidden to talk during work and even at lunch time, toil 10 hours a day and receive monthly salary that could barely buy an iPhone

Yesterday, Hong Kong activists displayed eight paper dolls in Foxconn uniforms outside the company’s Hong Kong office to protest the company’s handling of its workers. 

While the criticism was mostly pointed at Foxconn, Apple was also criticized for failing to monitor its contractors. Mattel may have failed to properly check its China partners when high amounts of paint lead on its toys led to massive recalls. This time, while we enjoy the cutting-edge technology Apple brings, it seems to be at the expense of the hands that make them. 2,000 workers at United Win, another Apple supplier in Suzhou, went on strike earlier this year over work safety.

Does owning an iPhone make us feel guilty? Of course not, but Apple should also take a closer look not only at product quality but also at the welfare of its workers. After all, Apple can’t deny that these Chinese workers contribute to where it is right now.