Forgotten Amid the Apple iPad Hype


Somehow this must have slipped by amid all the hoopla for the Apple iPad: hours were so long and conditions were so bad for Chinese workers making the gizmos that some committed suicide.

That was the motivation behind a protest in front of Apple's flagship San Francisco store on June 17 that was captured by writer and photographer David Bacon, who has carved out a niche reporting on exploited workers worldwide, particularly immigrants in this country.
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The protest, which was organized by San Francisco's
Chinese Progressive Association, featured solemn people holding signs
with the names of workers who took their own lives because of conditions at the Foxconn factory in southern China, where
the Apple
iPad is manufactured. 

Bacon writes:

Those conditions include 80
hours of overtime a month, according to the Chinese media. Chinese law limits overtime to 36 hours per month. No one is
allowed to talk on the production line, and workers complain of
constant high line speed and speedup. Most workers live in huge
dormitories, where often 12 people share a room.   

The suicides
include a man who jumped from a dormitory. He'd worked there for
two years.  Another man, recently hired, slit his wrists and was
taken to a hospital. A woman hanged herself in the bathroom, and
a man drowned in a company swimming pool. The latest person
committed suicide right after Foxconn's head, Terry Guo, had visited
the factory and taken journalists on a tour.


An embarrassed Apple
Corp. has stated it will compensate workers by increasing the money it was paying Foxconn
from 2.3% to 3% of the final price it charges for an iPad. 

“That's the equivalent of the amount Apple spends for the device's
aluminium back,” Bacon reports.

Check out more of his photos here. Bacon also notes conditions at Foxconn will be contained in a book to be published later this year, From Silicon Valley to Shenzhen by German sociologist Boy Leuthje.

Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.

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