Life In Foxconn: Undercover In The iPod Factories

foxconnundercover05172010-1274313201A Chinese newspaper went undercover at a Foxconn factory, the production site for Western gadgets such as iPhones and iPods. The workers are an army of overworked, ill-treated, but optimistic twenty-year-olds whose existence is typical of many in China’s young adult generation. Translation via Engadget:

In front of a newly-opened phone shop, the sales assistant flashed an iPhone to the Foxconn employees, with everyone focused on his every “cool” gesture, as if it was something new. But actually every part of this “new” device would’ve come from the hands of these workers, except these guys had never thought of owning the final product. And now, this whole thing is right in front of their eyes with a “smashing price of ¥2,198 ($322)” — just above their monthly pay.

This super factory that holds some 400,000 people isn’t the “sweatshop” that most would imagine. It provides accommodation that reaches the scale of a medium-sized town, all smooth and orderly. Compared to others, the facilities here are well-equipped and superior, with employee treatment meeting standard specifications. Thousands of people flock here each day just to find a place of their own, to find a dream that they’ll probably never realize.

Each employee would sign a “voluntary overtime affidavit,” in order to waive the 36-hour legal limit on your monthly overtime hours. This isn’t a bad thing, though, as many workers think that only factories that offer more overtime are “good factories,” because “without overtime, you can hardly make a living.” For the workers desperate for making money, overtime is like “a pain that can breathe:” without it, the days without money make them “suffocate;” with it, the restless work would only add more “pain” to the body, thus aging quicker. Most of the time they staunchly choose the latter, but even the right to choose such isn’t available to all. Only those with the seniors’ “trust,” with good connections, or those in key positions, can often get to work overtime.

4 Comments on "Life In Foxconn: Undercover In The iPod Factories"

  1. E.B. Wolf | May 21, 2010 at 1:02 pm |

    This place sounds like a free marketeer's wet dream.

  2. Foxxcon makes components for many companies — why single out the iPod for derision? Why not call it the “Playstation factory” or the “Kindle Factory?”

  3. evil

  4. evil

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