26 Facts About the Awful Conditions Where Your Gadgets are Made

4th February 2012

By Lois Becketalternet.org

Breaking down what we know about Foxconn, the massive factory in China where workers manufacture popular products like iPhones and iPads.

An investigative series by the New York Times and a performance piece by Mike Daisey featured on This American Life have put the spotlight on Foxconn, the Taiwanese company whose massive Chinese factories manufacture some of the world’s most popular consumer electronics.

As well as working with companies like Dell, Motorola, Nokia and Hewlett-Packard, Foxconn assembles popular Apple products like the iPhone and iPad.

Here’s a quick look at what we know about Foxconn. (The company disputes workers’ accounts of abusive conditions. In a 2010 company report, Foxconn said it promotes “employee respect, an atmosphere of trust, and personal dignity.”)

Working for Foxconn

1.2 million: number of workers employed by Foxconn in China, according to the New York Times.

40: Estimated percent of the world’s consumer electronics manufactured by Foxconn.

7: seconds it takes Foxconn’s workers to complete a single step of their work, according to a survey cited by the New York Times.

12: Hours in a typical work shift, according to interviews with Foxconn employees.

83.2: Average hours of overtime worked each month, according to a 2010 survey of Foxconn employee.

13: age of a Foxconn employee Mike Daisey interviewed outside the gates of a Foxconn plant in Shenzhen.

91: cases of underage labor found by Apple’s audits of its suppliers in 2010, the year Daisey visited China.

3,000: number of workers Foxconn could hire overnight, according to Apple’s former worldwide supply demand manager.

10-20: percent estimated monthly turnover in Foxconn’s workforce.

$7,500: amount founder Terry Gou used to start the anchor company of Foxconn Technology Group in 1974, according to the company website.

$5.7 billion: Terry Gou’s estimated net worth as of March 2011.

Living Conditions

230,000: number of workers at “Foxconn City” in Shenzhen, according to the New York Times.

13: tons of rice prepared each day at the central kitchen at Foxconn City.

$0.65: meal allowance for dinner at the Foxconn City canteen in 2010.

2: number of free swimming pools there, according to The Telegraph, which noted that the pools “are said to be quite dirty.”

70,000: number of workers at Foxconn’s Chengdu plant who live in company dorms, according to the New York Times.

20: number of employees sometimes packed into a three-room apartment.

200: Reported number of police officers who responded to a Foxconn dormitory riot.

Deaths

17: Number of reported suicides of Foxconn workers in China between 2007 and February 2011, according to Wired. Eleven workers died after jumping off buildings in the Foxconn Campus in Shenzhen, which were then draped with preventive netting. (Wired noted that the rate actually seems to be below China’s national averages.)

70: number of psychiatrists employed by Foxconn to prevent suicides, according to a 2010 announcement by CEO Terry Gou.

100: Estimated number of employees at a Foxconn factory in Wuhan who stood on the roof of a factory building this month to protest working conditions and wages. Several threatened to commit suicide, according to the New York Times.

$450: monthly salary a worker involved in that protest said employees had been promised for moving from the Foxconn campus in Shenzhen to one in Wuhan.

34: continuous hours a Foxconn employee worked in 2010 before he collapsed and died, according to media reports.

About the Author

Lois Becket has reported on changes in the news industry for the Nieman Journalism Lab. She was a 2010 Village Voice Media Fellow at the SF Weekly. She has written for the Times of India, the Accra Daily Mail, and the Reading Eagle, among others. She graduated from Harvard College with a degree in Social Studies.

 


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  • des

    Thats so sad, Im so sorry you people are suffering. God help you all, that’s so awful. 20 people in a 3 bedroom apartment, omg. Think of all the back karma.

  • Michael Callaway

    This article is badly done. The article is very slanted towards making them look evil.

    suicides – If you figure a base of 270,000 workers that is not a lot.

    Time per task 7 seconds to do what build a phone or install a battery.

    How many people work on one phone?

    wages $450.00 a month. in the US take the 450 month and add $650 for rent, $300 for utilities, $450 for medical insurance. $100 for gas. Plus 25% for taxes. approx $2100 a month.

    13 year old workers, do not know this for a fact. If so it beats living on the street and starving to death.

    So lets not judge the worlds most powerful and wealthy country “china” based on our own lack of direction or common sense.

    The only issues I have with this is if they cannot leave when they want to. Then it becomes slavery.