Apple’s least favorite bloggers Gizmodo.com have re-posted a story from the Southern Weekly newspaper who sent undercover reporter Liu Zhi Yi into Foxconn Inc who makes Apple iPods, iPhones, and the like for Apple. The factory has had a rash of suicides in the last little while and the company has hired everything from counselors to Buddhist monks to try and deal this this. Here’s what the reporter found:
During his 28 days of investigation, Liu Zhi Yi was shocked to discover how the factory workers live in a sort of indentured servitude. They work all day long, stopping only to quickly eat or to sleep. They repeat the same routine again and again except on public holidays. Liu surmised that for many workers, the only escape from this cycle was to end their life.
Liu, a graduate student, was chosen because of his young age, since the factory only hires workers in their twenties. He was hired without issue. He signed only one special document: An overtime working agreement that says the company is not responsible for their long hours of working. According to Liu, this voluntary agreement overrules Chinese state regulation.
Now Apple claims to keep an eye on this sort of thing. Here’s some of what they have to say on this subject:
Apple’s program is based on our comprehensive Supplier Code of Conduct, which outlines our expectations for the companies we do business with. We evaluate compliance through a rigorous auditing program and work proactively with our suppliers to drive change.
Clearly there’s some sort of disconnect if workers are killing themselves.
In any case, the fact is that people are going to read this report, get upset, and then go about their lives. If you actually want to see change, you have to demand more from companies who use manufacturers like Foxconn. You have to hold them accountable for stuff like this. Most importantly, you have to be willing to not buy those shiny iDevices from companies who use manufacturers like Foxconn so that the Apple’s of the universe get the message. Otherwise, you’ll keep hearing about this sort of thing, and the fact that you keep hearing about it is sad. Really sad.
UPDATE: Gizmodo has posted clandestine photos from inside the Foxconn factory. This makes this story even more sad.
UPDATE #2: Things are getting worse for Foxconn and Apple. A video has surfaced on Gizmodo that shows Foxconn guards allegedly beating up Foxconn workers. By the way, is it just me or does it seem that Gizmodo has an axe to grind with Apple? Perhaps they’re still ticked about that whole iPhone thing.
[an ITNerd commentary, reprinted with his permission.]