- 17 Foxconn employees have killed themselves in the past 7 decades
- Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms
- Some workers say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk.
- Under-age workers have helped build Apple’s products
- Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to clean iphone screens.
- Within seven months last year, two explosions at iPad factories, including in Chengdu, killed four people and injured 77. Before those blasts, Apple had been alerted to hazardous conditions.
- Finally – A message displayed on a banner above one ‘ipod factory’ reads “Work hard on the job today or work hard to find a job tomorrow.”
The scary thing about all of the above is that we probably only know about these abuses because the iphone is so high profile – the actual company that manufactures the ipad concerned, its actually a Taiwanese company called Foxconn
Foxconn happens to manufacture a whole load of other well- known brands – including the Kindle, the Xbox, and Playstation 3, and its customers also include other big name phone manufacturers – such as Motorola, Nokia, and Samsung
Foxconn has an annual revenue around $60 billion dollars, employs about 1 million people and has factories in China, India, the Czech Republic, Mexico and Brazil, but the bulk of its manufacturing is based in China where it has 11 factories – the biggest of which is estimated to have between 250 – 400 000 workers in residence.
Now if we know that Foxconn and Chinese government collude to allow worker-abuse in the manufacture of apple products, my suspicion is that it probably goes on with other products too…!
I started off this post wanting to calculate how much surplus value is being extracted by Apple from its workers, but I quickly realised this is impossible – In order to calculate this accurately we’d have to know precisely what proportion of workers in those Foxconn factories are working exlusively on apple products – rather than making products for all the other companies that Foxconn supplies. This, along with the actual numbers of workers in these factories, are not available.
What I can do, however, is calculate how much apple could afford to give to each worker if we assume that every Foxconn worker works on apple products – and that figure stands at about $13 000 – for the last quarter! – based on
- $13 000 000 000 – Apple’s profits for one quarter – divided by
- 1 000 000- the global total of Foxconn employees
If you quadruple that – and reduce it slightly to reflect the fact that last quarter was ‘Christmas quarter’ – you end up with the $40 000 figure at the top of this post. Obviously these stats underemphasise what each worker could be paid out of that profit pool – if you factor in the profits from Foxconn itself and all the other electronics ‘branding companies’ the figure would increase!
To finish, just a final postscript on surpluss value. If you didn’t already hate Apple enough – if you just look at Apple employees – Apple extracted more than $400 000 from each employee last year…