Undercover Chinese journalist infiltrates iPhone 5 production line

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?