On June 7th, Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs presented Apple's newest creation to the world: the iPhone 4. More than five thousand people attended the launch, each paying £1,000 for their ticket to the unveiling. This event was met with much enthusiasm and excitement. Steve Jobs has even been credited by some as “changing the way we live”.
Merely one week after this celebrated event, reports were leaked that revealed the truth behind the Apple corporation. A series of suicides, 11 to be exact, had taken place in a Chinese factory where Apple’s iPhones, iPods and iPads are all made.
The working conditions in these factories are horrendous. While Steve Jobs denied any accusations that the factory was a sweatshop, reporters from around the world dug deeper to find out the truth behind these suicides.
As it turns out, Apple products are produced in two of Foxconn’s factories. These two factories have been nicknamed the 'i-Nightmare factories’ by workers and they are in production 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Employees have shifts of up to 15 hours and they sleep in cramped rooms stuffed with triple-level bunk beds and no air-conditioning. The windows of the dormitories are covered by wires while 10ft high wire fences have been placed on the roofs of the buildings and 15ft wide nets have been placed at their base to prevent any further suicide attempts. These factories are run like strict military prisons and the employees there are subjected to constant pressure as they struggle to keep up with the booming Apple sales.
If you would like to find out more, click here to read the Daily Mail article.
So, after finding out about this, will I stop buying Apple products?
Personally, I can’t help but feel responsible. In the past decade, we in the Western world have gone absolutely crazy for Apple products. Most of us have at least one Apple product, if not more. On the Apple website, they state that within just 3 days of the release of the new Apple iPhone 4, sales of it had reached 1.7 million. Just 3 days!?!?! The success of Apple is outrageous and I think that it is a testimony to the consumer culture that we live in.
I think that through all of this, it is most important to remember that while we in the West constantly complain about the high costs of goods and desperately try to drive prices down, someone somewhere is always paying the price. I am not going to be throwing away my iPod or MacBook anytime soon however, I have decided that once they break, I won’t be running out to the nearest Apple store. Instead, I am going to research and reevaluate my options before making any of my future computer purchases.
You might think that it is ridiculous of me to think so but I still have hope. Apple has announced that it plans to increase the workers pay in the two Foxconn factories by 80%. Albeit late, this is a good thing. I do believe that it is up to industry leaders like Apple to initiate change. Perhaps, if Apple truly ameliorates the workers conditions in China, other corporations will be forced to follow suit. Apple’s efforts, if properly monitored, could actually improve the workers standards in China forever.