ABC’s behind-the-scenes look at Apple’s supply plant in Shenzhen and Chengdu confirmed a lot of what we already knew: Conditions are grueling, employees are overworked and underpaid, and living quarters are crowded. However, some of the stats revealed through Nightline’s 17-minute special surrounding hourly wages, living costs and the process that goes into making Apple devices were staggering.
Nightline anchor Bill Weir was the first reporter to be allowed into the controversial Foxconn factory following years of reports about the harsh working conditions at the facility, which creates Apple products such as theiPad, iPhone and Mac computers. Foxconn is also a supply chain provider for Nintendo, Dell, HP and Intel products.
The special, which aired on Tuesday night, revealed that Foxconn workers get paid $1.78 an hour and live in a dorm room for about $17 a month, along with seven roommates. In addition, it takes five days and 375 sets of hands to assemble an iPad, according to Nightline. Meanwhile, workers can make 300,000 cameras for the device in just two shifts.
Foxconn employees have different roles. Some work with pieces of aluminum to form the iPad’s exterior design, along with the Apple logo, working on 10,000 different iPads each hour. The Apple logo carved into the back of an iPad is made on 3,000 devices each shift. Weir said he expected most employees to be as young as 13, but noted most were in their late teens.
This is not the first time Apple has been under fire for mistreatment allegations at its supply factories. In fact, the factories have been accused of mistreatment for years. Most recently, reports surfaced that some Apple workers threatened to throw themselves off of a roof in a protest of unfair treatment. Foxconn later said the dispute was solved peacefully.
According to a report by 9to5mac.com, Cook sent an email last month to Apple employees following an article published by the New York Times that detailed how factory employees in China face unsuitable conditions.
“Unfortunately, some people are questioning Apple’s values today, and I’d like to address this with you directly,” Cook wrote. “We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern. Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us.”
He also promised Apple employees that the company will “dig deeper” and although it will likely find more issues that need to be addressed, it won’t stand still or ignore the problems in the supply chain.
Are you surprised by any of the stats in Nightline’s special? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
10 Facts (Sad but True)
10. Suicide nets were installed in Spring 2010 when nine Foxconn workers killed themselves during a three-month time period. Although 18 employees took their own lives or tried to in recent years, Nightline said Foxconn’s suicide rate is well below China’s national average.
9. Nightline anchor Bill Weir expected most employees to be as young as 13, but noted most were in their late teens.
8. The worker shifts are 12 hours and include two one-hour long meal breaks. Lunch is $0.70 for meat and rice.
7. A worker carves the Apple logo for the iPad from the aluminum case for 3,000 devices every shift.
6. Foxconn employees use a raw piece of aluminum to form the iPad’s exterior design, along with the Apple logo, at a rate of creating 10,000 each hour.
5. In only two shifts, workers can make 300,000 iPad cameras.
4. It takes five days and 375 sets of hands to assemble an iPad, according to Nightline.
3. Despite low wages and grueling conditions, 3,000 people lined up at Foxconn for an opportunity to work at the factory. According to Nightline, Foxconn’s need for more employees to help meet the demand for Apple products is so high that it planned to hire about 80 percent of those vying for a job.
2. Rent is about $17 a month for a dorm room shared with seven other roommates.
1. Foxconn workers get paid $1.78 an hour.