Bill Weir of Nightline was granted access to Foxconn, one of the Chinese suppliers for the tech giant Apple. The reason for the unprecedented access is because Apple had been receiving scrutiny for weeks regarding how the workers at the company are treated. The company employs over 1 million, making it one of the largest companies on China’s mainland. The company provides parts for not only Apple but also Dell, Intel and Nintendo.
Weir toured the Foxconn location in Shenzhen, being taken aback by the lives of the employees at the plant, which totals 235,000 employees.
The majority of the employees at the plant are teenagers, with Weir saying that almost no one looked to be over the age of 30. They work 12-hour shifts putting together technology gadgets and come from small villages within the country. Many of the employees work and live at Foxconn, which has dorms much like a college campus, as the employees have to pay $17.50 per month for room and board. There are seven people living in one room. Forbes has released data that shows Foxconn employees make around $1.78 per hour.
Weir noted that the majority of the workers had the same complaints that workers in other countries have. Those complaints include they are too tired, the price for food is too high, and the their pay is too low. One employee, who is a mother of two, said the following when working:
“A lot of the time I think about how tired I am. I think about resting.”
If you work at Foxconn you will be working at a place like no other. The reason for this is because when approaching the outside of the building you can see suicide prevention nets. The suicide nets had to be installed in between buildings following a mass suicide threat from a large number of workers back in 2010. Tim Cook, now the CEO and then the COO of Apple, went to Shenzhen to examine the problem with a team of experts. The experts told Cook that putting up the nets would be best. Since 2010, 18 employees for Foxconn have committed suicide, which is a number that falls below the national average in China.
The President of the Fair Labor Association, Auret van Heerdenan, spoke with Weir about audits requested by Apple of the working conditions at its factories across the country. Van Heerdenan looks for signs from the workers when performing an audit of a factory. Those signs include interest from the workers and liveliness when he walks by them at the factory. The results of the audits are supposed to be released sometime in the month of March, according to the Fair Labor Association.