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16. Sweatshops in China Are Making Your iPods While Workers Suffer

Although Apple claims to be a socially responsible company, some of its suspected Chinese suppliers, such as Foxconn, Dafu and Lian Jian Technology, routinely violate China’s “Law on the Prevention and Control of Occupational Diseases.” A report from China’s Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, “The Other Side of Apple,” criticized the company for harmful environmental and health practices in suppliers’ plants.

In one example, several manufacturers replaced alcohol with n-hexanein the parts cleaning process.  The chemical works better than alcohol but poisons workers and in some instances the workers, often women in their teens or 20s, were forced to work with the poison in unventilated rooms. Because of the chemical’s use in Lian Jian Technology’s Suzhou No. 5 plant, 49 employees were admitted to the hospital when they became ill.  Other workers are suspected to have been poisoned but were “pushed out” of the plant before they showed signs of illness, forced by Lian Jian “to sign papers saying they would not hold the company accountable.”  According to one worker, “They left with 80 or 90 thousand yuan [$12 - $14,000] that they got in exchange for their lives and health, with fees and medical costs they would have to pay for the rest of their lives.”

In another example, Foxconn saw 12 employees jump from buildings to commit suicide in less than six months, apparently due to exhaustion or stress from being forced to work illegal overtime.  And a Dafu plant forces female workers to remove all clothing, in plain view of other workers, for search daily before leaving the facility.

Among IT companies, known to create heavy metal pollution, Apple is unique in its unwillingness to answer questions or participate with NGOs in instituting best practices  programs. As is the case in many developing countries, cheap products are often made and exported by Chinese companies, dumping the pollution in their own backyards.

Source:

“Rotten Apple: iPod Sweatshops Hidden in China,” Dan Margolis, People’s World, January 25, 2011. http://www.peoplesworld.org/rotten-apple-ipod-sweatshops-hidden-in-china/

 

Student Researcher: Aluna Soupholphakdy, Sonoma State University

Faculty Evaluator: Elaine Wellin, Sonoma State University

  • Sweet & Sour Socialism October 4, 2011

    Margolis’ article is a mish-mash of Apple’s China-related issues which individually have certainly been covered quite thoroughly by both Western and Chinese media, especially stories revolving around Taiwan-based Foxconn.  It’s documented that workers for some of Apple’s suppliers were applying  hazardous chemicals which damaged their health; however the “sweatshop” claims are not clearly supported by Margolis’ article.  At any rate, whatever the compelling issues are here, I’ve seen so many articles about Apple products made in China from various nations’ news sources that I’m wondering where the censorship is.

  • Sweet & Sour Socialism October 4, 2011

    Margolis’ article is a mish-mash of Apple’s China-related issues which individually have certainly been covered quite thoroughly by both Western and Chinese media, especially stories revolving around Taiwan-based Foxconn.  It’s documented that workers for some of Apple’s suppliers were applying  hazardous chemicals which damaged their health; however the “sweatshop” claims are not clearly supported by Margolis’ article.  At any rate, whatever the compelling issues are here, I’ve seen so many articles about Apple products made in China from various nations’ news sources that I’m wondering where the censorship is.

  • R Gkeyser October 4, 2011

    Need to some how boycott Apple to stop this and open their eyes. plus hey should bring production of iPhones to America. their profit margin is around 67% being made in China. if made in America profit margin only 55-57%.. that sickens me that 10% means that much to them.

  • R Gkeyser October 4, 2011

    Need to some how boycott Apple to stop this and open their eyes. plus hey should bring production of iPhones to America. their profit margin is around 67% being made in China. if made in America profit margin only 55-57%.. that sickens me that 10% means that much to them.

  • Pam January 11, 2012

    Awesome segment done this last week on,This American Life, about this very thing. Monolog done by ? daisey. Pull up NPR and take a listen.

  • Pam January 11, 2012

    Awesome segment done this last week on,This American Life, about this very thing. Monolog done by ? daisey. Pull up NPR and take a listen.

  • Pam January 11, 2012

    Awesome segment done this last week on,This American Life, about this very thing. Monolog done by ? daisey. Pull up NPR and take a listen.

  • Poop May 1, 2012

    poop

  • Poop May 1, 2012

    poop

  • Sweet & Sour Socialism September 24, 2013

    @ Pam

    That NPR “This American Life” segment was so awesome that NPR completely RETRACTED it. Mike Daisey is a proven liar.

    See for yourselves: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/460/retraction

    460: Retraction

    Mar 16, 2012

    We’ve discovered that one of our most popular episodes contained numerous fabrications. This week, we detail the errors in Mike Daisey’s story about visiting Foxconn, which makes iPads and other products for Apple in China. Marketplace’s China correspondent Rob Schmitz discovered the fabrications…

    And a note to Aluna Soupholphakdy, Elaine Wellin & Margolis — the Foxconn “suicide epidemic” has been debunked. As of 2012, Foxconn employees totalled more than 1.2 MILLION. Some suicide attempts in that massive population is not at all abnormal; in fact suicides among Foxconn workers are LOWER than the national average.

  • Jim koger November 4, 2013

    Foxconn isn’t doing a good job.things are getting sweaty and swampy and every thing stays the same.Kids are stil working in sweat shops and are barely getting payed or maybe nothing at all.Someone needs to boycott apple so this will slowly stop.china is a big.Africa is pretty big too.Well my wife just got home with food so I got to go.

  • Cindy Crawford March 23, 2014

    Read

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