Posts Tagged ‘worker’s rights’

Thinking Differently on Steve Jobs’ Legacy: the Struggle of Chinese Labor Reform

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

By Maya Eva Gunst Rudolph

Assembly line workers at Foxconn manufacturing facility subcontracted to Apple (photo: Kotaku)

A man, a plan, an empire: the death of a CEO can signify so much. Honorific accounts of the late Steve Jobs have been in no short supply since the Wizard of Apple’s passing last week. A tech developer and designer of the highest order, Job’s passing leaves a legacy of stunning innovation amid a complex corporate structure and a few harder-edged questions about what it truly means to change the world.

Among the litany of Jobs tributes, it might have been easy to miss Mike Daisey’s critical appraisal of Jobs’ legacy in The New York Times. While acknowledging Jobs as a genius possessed of a “brutal honesty,” Daisey addresses the often-overshadowed underpinning of the Apple operation, such as the crowds of young Chinese migrants whose tireless, anonymous work built iPhones and MacBooks in factories throughout southern China. Referencing the 2010 spike in suicides at Shenzhen’s Foxconn factory, a manufacturer of popular products by Apple, Dell, and Sony, Daisey addresses Apple’s recent history in the now infamous manufacturing region:

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Measuring the Human Cost of an iPad made in China

Monday, June 13th, 2011

By Ariella Tai

On May 20th, an explosion that killed two and wounded sixteen others rocked a factory in Chengdu owned by the Taiwanese Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as Foxconn. The workshop where the explosion occurred was a manufacturing site for the iPad. Apple, like Hewlett Packard, Dell, Sony and others, has outsourced product assembly to China, where low cost of labor allows these companies to maintain competitive pricing and maximize their profits. They are not, however, held accountable for the lax safety standards and mistreatment of workers that lead to explosions like that which occurred two weeks ago- caused by improper ventilation in a metal polishing workshop which led to the ignition and subsequent explosion of metal dust.

As John Bussey reports for the Wall Street Journal, “Measuring the Human Cost of an iPad Made in China,” not even Hon Hai Industries, much less Apple, is facing any strict review or government investigation of the conditions which caused the explosion, or of the claims from labor advocacy groups that employees are underpaid, overcrowded and forced to spend excessive hours in dangerous and unclean conditions. In fact, in the past year and a half there have been several suicides on factory facilities that have brought this particular company’s failings into the public eye.

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