- Posted November 15, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Life in China
The Poisoned Apple
We are currently writing this article on a computer that has been constructed by enslaved hands. Slavery is a huge part of lives, even if we do not realize it. It is all around the world, from Brazil to China to right here in America. Worker’s rights has been a problem for a lot of companies within the last decade including Apple.
Chengdu Chen is a college student living in Southwestern China. Not only does she attend school, but most of her time is consumed at Foxconn, a supplier for Apple. She makes iPads day in and day out. But, she has never seen the final product according to CNN. This is because she has previously worked and lived under cruel conditions thanks to Apple. There are thousands of these indentured workers, especially in China. Because she was poor, when she got offered a one month position to work for Foxconn, she took it immediately. During an interview with CNN, Chen shares that, “During my first day of work, an older worker said to me, 'Why did you come to Foxconn? Don't ever think about it again and leave right now.’” It is not said how a young student like herself ended up at Foxconn, but it does say that she left after a year because she was to “obey or leave.” Chen was a student before Foxconn, planning to attend some kind of college after. Chen never plans to return back to Foxconn and is planning to study at a Chongqing university. She aspires to be a biologist one day. Apple’s history with worker’s rights has been negative, Apple has been making more and more efforts to reconstruct their way of employment.
Even two years ago in 2010, Apple treated their workers very poorly, having them work in terrible conditions with little food and little to no pay. According to phonestory.org, in February of 2012, fourteen people attempted suicide by jumping off the Foxconn building in which they worked. Tian Yu, nineteen years old, survived but is now suffering from serious injuries. These fourteen individuals felt that they had to do this because the conditions under which they worked were unacceptable. These particular workers stand in assembly line for sometimes seven days a week, making only forty-two dollars a week, and living in a crowded dorm. Not only are suicides associated with Apple workers, but worker’s rights being ignored is present as well. Phone Story also shows how Apple products are created by slaves. Only three hours after the App’s release it was banned from the App Store. We visited the website and it consists of Tian Yu’s story, the App’s purpose of showing how worker’s rights are being violated.
Apple’s products have been rated on an A-F scale on the safety in which the product is constructed. According to free2work.org, Apple earned a “D” as an overall grade for how they treat their workers. This is clearly an awful grade to earn under any circumstances, so Apple has been working and will continue to work on how they can treat their workers better. Apple’s plan for 2013 is to reduce work hours by nearly a third for all of the workers in Foxconn plants across southern China. According to an article from The New York Times, Apple and its supplier, Foxconn, plan on reducing overtime hours. There is a problem with this, however. When Foxconn reduces overtime hours, that means they need more workers. More workers means more dormitories and recreational facilities which definitely takes time and a lot of money as well. All of these complications will slow down production causing investments to decrease.
As you can see, this is definitely an on-going process. Statistics show that working hours per week went from eighty in March to sixty-eight and eventually to forty-eight according to the New York Times. Foxconn stated that the company “agreed to slash overtime, improve safety, hire new workers and upgrade dormitories.” Every single worker would benefit from these new compromises.
Slavery is still an epidemic today for a few reasons. This whole business is affected by a chain reaction. The workers depend on the suppliers they work for, the suppliers depend on the company they supply for. The company relies on the consumers. Therefore, there is a considerable number of things that consumers can do to help the issue of modern slavery.
One thing you could do is show and share your visible participation to the public. Our English class from Beaver Country Day School took on a challenge and created a project to combat slavery in the world. Our class adapted the Paper Airplanes for Freedom assignment we originally found on the CNN Freedom Project. To make the foundation or most important part of this project, we made paper airplanes with all different sources and information linking to slavery websites and facts. We threw these airplanes in the Boston Common on a Friday afternoon when people were on their lunch breaks, hoping to educate the public on modern slavery. Most people tended to look away or not care, but some actually took interest. The project in all was a great experience. It was not an ordinary thing to do for a project at school, and I think that is what intrigued our class the most. You can also raise awareness to your school, work, or even home to conquer the battle of slavery for now and forever. The more people know, the more they can do about it.