Undercover Chinese journalist infiltrates iPhone 5 production line

By , Sep 12, 2012

Talk about timing. Just hours ahead of Apple’s highly-anticpated iPhone event, a story has surfaced of a Chinese journalist who recently went undercover as a worker in one of Foxconn’s factories.

The reporter, who works for the Shanghai Evening Post, got a job at the manufacturer’s Tai Yuan plant in China’s Shanxi province, and spent 10 days working on one of its iPhone 5 production lines…

The article is pretty lengthy, but there were some particularly gruesome parts that we thought were worth sharing. First, the journalist describes what his first night at Foxconn was like (via MIC Gadget):

“The first night sleeping at Foxconn dormitory is a nightmare. The whole dormitory smells like garbage when I walked in. It’s a mixed of overnight garbage smell plus dirty sweat and foam smell. Outside every room was fully piled up with uncleared trash. When I opened my wardrobe, lots of cockroaches crawl out from inside and the bedsheets that are being distributed to every new workers are full of dirts and ashes.”

Orientation wasn’t much better. The author says he was forced to sign an employee contract that essentially said Foxconn wasn’t responsible if he got hurt on the job, and the whole thing was very uncomfortable.

After his group of new hires were briefed on the company and how it operated, they were quickly put to work.

“We have reached the entrance of the production floor with a warning sign that says: “TOP SECURITY AREA”. We are told that if anyone enter or exit the metal detector door and found carrying any metallic stuff on your body such as belt buckle, ear rings, cameras, handset, mp3 players, the alarm will sound and you will be fired on the spot.”

And this is where it really started to get bad. The reporter says that workers were scolded frequently for being too slow, which he explains was hard to avoid, as muscle cramps set in after a few hours.

“After such repeat action for several hours, I have terrible neckache and muscle pain on my arm. A new worker who sat opposite of me gone exhausted and laid down for a short while. The supervisor has noticed him and punished him by asking him to stand at one corner for 10 minutes like the old school days. We worked non-stop from midnight to the next morning 6 a.m but were still asked to keep on working as the production line is based on running belt and no one is allowed to stop. I’m so starving and fully exhausted.”

The entire report is worth a read, as it depicts what the nights and days are really like for Foxconn employees. Twelve hour shifts with no breaks, poor living conditions, and frequent scoldings.

Foxconn has been under constant scrutiny over its working conditions for several years now. Apple finally got involved this year and put the Fair Labor Association to task to whip the manufacturer into shape.

And despite early reports that conditions inside Foxconn were improving for employees, the company was recently seen pulling college students out of school and forcing them to work on their assembly lines.

It just doesn’t seem like this situation is ever going to get better. Too many people are making money here to care.

What do you think?

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  • genXhippie

    Does this really come as a surprise to anyone? Damn shame imo, considering the profits being made. It does not have to be this way, those in charge decide, remember.

    • http://twitter.com/T1rell T1rell

      NO, you decide! whether you buy the product or NOT!

  • http://twitter.com/reimic reimic

    .. so many companies produce theire things at foxconn. so its not primary apples fault, the whole chinese industry works like this. and i also think the workers at foxconn have good conditions if you would compare it to other companies in china. but i know, thats no excuse for the the really bad things at foxconn.. i am sure apple knows about that problem, and they dont want it, but they can’t really do something against it…

    • 2Vini

      Sad, but true…

    • http://twitter.com/therealjdizzle Jason Masters

      They can do something about it but they dont want to
      Money is their only objective not the safety or health of fellow human beings

      • Emre SUMENGEN

        One should ask himself/herself “what have I done about the safety or health of others” before that…

        Corporations are not living creatures. People running them are…

        Also, people working them also are human. That means they have the right to work in fair conditions, right. But people decide their own fate…

      • Emre SUMENGEN

        One should ask himself/herself “what have I done about the safety or health of others” before that…

        Corporations are not living creatures. People running them are…

        Also, people working them also are human. That means they have the right to work in fair conditions, right. But people decide their own fate…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=568052448 Raven Woods

    I am not buying an iPhone 5 then. No matter what, I don’t like the idea of some other people suffering because of my vanity!

    • jbazar

      I bet you shop at some big box store. which would make you a hypocrite.

    • http://twitter.com/kalps133 -kalpesh-

      then u should stop buying everything thing that is made in china ,india and countries like us ,its not such a big deal here .. it can virtually include alost every bit of things around you from ur plain shirt to the diamond thats cut here somwhere in india..working conditions r something that is more so created by the workers coz he wants to save the most of it for his family rather improve his living condition , if foxcon says its gonna add a few dollars to their salary to improve their living n working condition the workers would choose to live in same condition n send that extra money home..its a fact ..

      • http://twitter.com/T1rell T1rell

        but if you choose not to purchase the product, it puts pressure on apple, which then puts the pressure on foxconn.
        It also has to be made clear to apple that the reason you are not buying their iphone 5 is the circumstances it is produced under and not because we are all so disappointed.
        So go ahead, write them an email, let those suckers know!

    • http://www.grischke.net/ Maciek

      This is what those workers choose to do.
      Some guy once said: You can’t have both – cheap iPad made in USA.

  • http://twitter.com/edumalheiros Eduardo Malheiros

    Wow, I know it has nothing to do with the article but the first guy (left to right) of the second picture looks a lot like Kamui Kobayashi, the Formula 1 driver.

  • http://twitter.com/El_Barto_01 El Barto

    And Foxconn has one of the best conditions in china. That days a lot about china

  • are5th

    they all apply to work there… so be it

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Olaf-Wouters/100001850331302 Olaf Wouters

    This apple tastes bad

  • http://twitter.com/runjara Rodrigo Jara Piccard

    what a shit life. not worth living like that..
    thousands employees suffering and a few people living in heaven.

    • alexanderlyd

      of course its not worth it, but its their only choice, this is the only way some people can earn money

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Felipe-Lopez/1608523380 Felipe Lopez

        Exactly why my parents left Mexico. Just as bad there as far as jobs. Came here with nothing but suitcase of clothing. Worked in fields for less than minimum wage raised my two sisters my brother and I in a two bedroom house we shared with another family. Now we live just as well as a typical middle class family. Both have great jobs with salary and insurance, syblings all graduated high school and currently enrolled in college. Certainly moved up from their prior life in Mexico and sure it sounds like a good idea for these people to move here and live better lives but we made that illegal. Coming here legally is very difficult and the odds of them being eligible to come here are very high and just waiting my parents green cards took 10 years. That didn’t mean they could live here yet either. Only work a few months.

  • jbazar

    If they hate their jobs let them go back to their villages and find work on a farm. Oh wait… farming has long hours and repetitive actions and causes neck aches and muscle pain. What we should be really talking about is any Company that uses Foxconn should move their manufacturing back to the United States!

    • I D

      Do you not have any empathy at all for your fellow human beings?

      • jbazar

        I have had jobs I hate so I have changed my career to something I love. Humans on the most part are as stupid as cows. there are a few that have found a way to stay focused and educate themselves and elevate themselves above factory workers. With that said there is nothing wrong with factory work, it’s what made the United States the Super Power it is.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Felipe-Lopez/1608523380 Felipe Lopez

      That’s what I was thinkIng. It’s physical labor, I’ve worked jobs loading unloading tile and weighing glass at a recycling plant those jobs caused serious aches and pains. I also worked on a disassembly line at a brake factory who melts down parts to resale and was fired after one day because i couldnt keep up. Big deal. If it smells spray febreeze. I live out in the central valley of CA theres about 4 dairy farms within a mile of my home. The smell of cow manure never goes away, but i got used to it. Roaches? Roach traps. My home was infested when i moved in. Dirty sheets? Wash them yourself. You dont have to use them. Any other horrible living conditions you need taken care of. I miraculously overcame mine

  • http://twitter.com/tonkatuph Tonka Thor

    says all the people posting from their iphones or mobile device…you guys don’t give a fuck. You’re happy with your toys. Stop whining and bitching about how bad it is over there. China makes it’s money, Apple and others make their money, the workers make their money. You pay for this shit! If you don’t like it stop buying their shit!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Felipe-Lopez/1608523380 Felipe Lopez

      Exactly. Everyone whining screaming about this aren’t doing anything to help apple at least got the ball rolling with helping the workers and how do people take it? I’m never buying an apple product again. You might as well not buy any mobile device most parts come from Foxconn. So it’s settled no more cell phones anymore for the whining people. Got it? I find it horrible too but I know how imperfect the world is. I kinda find this as karma. Google how bad Chinese treat animals. Skinning dogs in streets. Skinning cats alive. And the worst animal atrocity the girl who killed a kitten by stepping on it over and over with her high heels. No accident they purposely filmed it. I dare you to look it up. So if they are gonna act this way to the world well they’re gonna lose some points in karma.

  • http://twitter.com/IamYardvybz Daniel Hall

    i dont care they signed a contract, plus why this is coming out now…. im still buying my iphone that has nothing to do with me

    • http://twitter.com/JayshonTweaks Jason Duong

      I don’t care if you die, I don’t think anyone else does as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/milika.delic.7 Milika Delic

    As long as we value money as much as we do, this will continue to happen.
    Simple as that…

  • http://www.youtube.com/Tr1pTr0p Tr1pTr0p

    All of this, just so spoiled people could have cheap electronics. I sure wouldn’t mind paying more for things if I knew that people who make them earn a decent living.

  • http://twitter.com/muhdhanis7 Muhd Hanis

    The life of working under people who treat workers as slave will make feel like hell,moreover Foxconn just give little wages for workers!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ba-Tongxue/100003554938315 Ba Tongxue

    Fuck, such a fucking disgrace!
    Chinese citizens deserve much better!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ba-Tongxue/100003554938315 Ba Tongxue

    Fuck, such a fucking disgrace!
    Chinese citizens deserve much better!