Apple’s Chinese Workers Forced to Sign Anti-Suicide Pledge

Distinguished workers from Foxconn take part in a "Treasure Your Life" rally inside a stadium at a Foxconn plant in the southern Chinese township of Longhau in Guangdong province August 18, 2010. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/Files

Apple’s Chinese workers treated ‘inhumanely, like machines’ (guardian.co.uk):

An investigation into the conditions of Chinese workers has revealed the shocking human cost of producing the must-have Apple iPhones and iPads that are now ubiquitous in the west.

The research, carried out by two NGOs, has revealed disturbing allegations of excessive working hours and draconian workplace rules at two major plants in southern China. It has also uncovered an “anti-suicide” pledge that workers at the two plants have been urged to sign, after a series of employee deaths last year.

The investigation gives a detailed picture of life for the 500,000 workers at the Shenzhen and Chengdu factories owned by Foxconn, which produces millions of Apple products each year. The report accuses Foxconn of treating workers “inhumanely, like machines”.

Among the allegations made by workers interviewed by the NGOs – the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations and Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (Sacom) – are claims that:

■ Excessive overtime is routine, despite a legal limit of 36 hours a month. One payslip, seen by the Observer, indicated that the worker had performed 98 hours of overtime in a month.

■ Workers attempting to meet the huge demand for the first iPad were sometimes pressured to take only one day off in 13.

■ In some factories badly performing workers are required to be publicly humiliated in front of colleagues.

■ Crowded workers’ dormitories can sleep up to 24 and are subject to strict rules. One worker told the NGO investigators that he was forced to sign a “confession letter” after illicitly using a hairdryer. In the letter he wrote: “It is my fault. I will never blow my hair inside my room. I have done something wrong. I will never do it again.”

■ In the wake of a spate of suicides at Foxconn factories last summer, workers were asked to sign a statement promising not to kill themselves and pledging to “treasure their lives”.

Foxconn produced its first iPad at Chengdu last November and expects to produce 100m a year by 2013. Last year Apple sold more than 15m iPads worldwide and has already sold close to five million this year.

A man walks outside one of the Foxconn factory buildings with the nets, installed to prevent workers from jumping to their deaths, in Langfang, Hebei Province August 3, 2010. Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd , also known as Foxconn Technology Group, opened a new $100 million production factory in the central Chinese province of Henan, as the group began to move production inland in a bid to cap rising labour costs, according to a state media report. REUTERS/Jason Lee

A worker walks out of a factory building with nets, installed to prevent workers from jumping to their deaths, at a Foxconn factory, in Langfang, Hebei Province August 3, 2010. Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd , also known as Foxconn Technology Group, opened a new $100 million production factory in the central Chinese province of Henan, as the group began to move production inland in a bid to cap rising labour costs, according to a state media report. REUTERS/Jason Lee

A worker pushes a trolley carrying products under nets which are installed on a factory building to prevent workers from jumping to their deaths at a Foxconn factory in Langfang, Hebei Province August 3, 2010. Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd , also known as Foxconn Technology Group, opened a new $100 million production factory in the central Chinese province of Henan, as the group began to move production inland in a bid to cap rising labour costs, according to a state media report. REUTERS/Jason Lee

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