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Friday, February 3, 2012

APPLE HAS A PROBLEM IF YOU ARE HUMANE

The world operates on the desire to keep poor people poor, so that slave conditions will be tolerated. Why pay USA workers good wages, health care, into pension plans, when corporations can go to places like China, where we can claim ignorance on the working conditions?

I don't believe "we" really want poor people to have better lives. How would we get the cheap labor to make our clothes, pick our fruit and vegetables, make our technology?

The New York Times: Apple’s iPad and the Human Costs for Workers in China
A portion from the above link's article:

In the last decade, Apple has become one of the mightiest, richest and most successful companies in the world, in part by mastering global manufacturing. Apple and its high-technology peers — as well as dozens of other American industries — have achieved a pace of innovation nearly unmatched in modern history.

However, the workers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices often labor in harsh conditions, according to employees inside those plants, worker advocates and documents published by companies themselves. Problems are as varied as onerous work environments and serious — sometimes deadly — safety problems.

Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk. Under-age workers have helped build Apple’s products, and the company’s suppliers have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and falsified records, according to company reports and advocacy groups that, within China, are often considered reliable, independent monitors.

More troubling, the groups say, is some suppliers’ disregard for workers’ health. Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to clean iPhone screens. Within seven months last year, two explosions at iPad factories, including in Chengdu, killed four people and injured 77. Before those blasts, Apple had been alerted to hazardous conditions inside the Chengdu plant, according to a Chinese group that published that warning.

“If Apple was warned, and didn’t act, that’s reprehensible,” said Nicholas Ashford, a former chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, a group that advises the United States Labor Department. “But what’s morally repugnant in one country is accepted business practices in another, and companies take advantage of that.”

Apple is not the only electronics company doing business within a troubling supply system. Bleak working conditions have been documented at factories manufacturing products for Dell, Hewlett-Packard, I.B.M., Lenovo, Motorola, Nokia, Sony, Toshiba and others.

Current and former Apple executives, moreover, say the company has made significant strides in improving factories in recent years. Apple has a supplier code of conduct that details standards on labor issues, safety protections and other topics. The company has mounted a vigorous auditing campaign, and when abuses are discovered, Apple says, corrections are demanded.

And Apple’s annual supplier responsibility reports, in many cases, are the first to report abuses. This month, for the first time, the company released a list identifying many of its suppliers.

But significant problems remain. More than half of the suppliers audited by Apple have violated at least one aspect of the code of conduct every year since 2007, according to Apple’s reports, and in some instances have violated the law. While many violations involve working conditions, rather than safety hazards, troubling patterns persist.

“Apple never cared about anything other than increasing product quality and decreasing production cost,” said Li Mingqi, who until April worked in management at Foxconn Technology, one of Apple’s most important manufacturing partners. Mr. Li, who is suing Foxconn over his dismissal, helped manage the Chengdu factory where the explosion occurred.

“Workers’ welfare has nothing to do with their interests,” he said.

Some former Apple executives say there is an unresolved tension within the company: executives want to improve conditions within factories, but that dedication falters when it conflicts with crucial supplier relationships or the fast delivery of new products. Tuesday, Apple reported one of the most lucrative quarters of any corporation in history, with $13.06 billion in profits on $46.3 billion in sales. Its sales would have been even higher, executives said, if overseas factories had been able to produce more.

Executives at other corporations report similar internal pressures. This system may not be pretty, they argue, but a radical overhaul would slow innovation. Customers want amazing new electronics delivered every year.

“We’ve known about labor abuses in some factories for four years, and they’re still going on,” said one former Apple executive who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements. “Why? Because the system works for us. Suppliers would change everything tomorrow if Apple told them they didn’t have another choice.”

“If half of iPhones were malfunctioning, do you think Apple would let it go on for four years?” the executive asked.

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Video link from the New York Times - Made in China

Read the full article at:
The New York Times: Apple’s iPad and the Human Costs for Workers in China

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nytime ~ Made in China
(Video shows working conditions in China)
Where our Union jobs go....to places like this,
Important Video ~ factory conditions in China

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iSlaves Working on the iPad: Signing 'No Suicide' Pledges
Monday, 02 May 2011
Source: macedonia online

Factories making sought-after Apple iPads and iPhones in China are forcing staff to sign pledges not to commit suicide, an investigation has revealed.

At least 14 workers at Foxconn factories in China have killed themselves in the last 16 months as a result of horrendous working conditions.
Many more are believed to have either survived attempts or been stopped before trying at the Apple supplier's plants in Chengdu or Shenzen.

After a spate of suicides last year, managers at the factories ordered new staff to sign pledges that they would not attempt to kill themselves, according to researchers.

And they were made to promise that if they did, their families would only seek the legal minimum in damages.

An investigation of the 500,000 workers by the Centre for Research on Multinational Companies and Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (Sacom) found appalling conditions in the factories.

They claimed that:

* Excessive overtime was rife, despite a legal limit of 36 hours a month. One payslip showed a worker did 98 hours of overtime in one month, the Observer reported.
* During peak periods of demand for the iPad, workers were made to take only one day off in 13.
* Badly performing workers were humiliated in front of colleagues.
* Workers are banned from talking and are made to stand up for their 12-hour shifts.

The 'anti-suicide pledge' was brought in after sociologists wrote an open letter to the media calling for an end to restrictive working practices.

But the investigation revealed many of the workers still lived in dismal conditions, with some only going home to see family once a year.

One worker told the newspaper: 'Sometimes my roommates cry when they arrive in the dormitory after a long day.'

She said they were made to work illegally long hours for a basic daily wage, as little as Ł5.20, and that workers were housed in dormitories of up to 24 people a room.

In Chengdu, working between 60 and 80 hours overtime a month was normal, with many breaching Apple's own code of conduct with the length of their shifts.

And the investigation found that employees claimed they were not allowed to speak to each other.

Apple's China Supply Chain Exposed
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This is why we learned that we need workers to have unions

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