More on the Apple sweatshops

February 7, 2012

Another article in the mainstream media (in this case from CNN) on the horrible working conditions at the Chinese factories run by Foxconn, the main supplier for Apple and many other high-tech brands. One really has to wonder what Apple has done to deserve all of this bad publicity in the Western press, especially considering that just about every other major western brand is doing exactly the same thing–that is, outsourcing to Chinese sweatshops in which there is neither the incentive nor the inclination to maintain labor conditions that are acceptable by Western standards. The article is worth reading mainly because it gives some sense of the profit margin for a typical iPhone (about $450). The article concludes with some friendly PR from the folks at Apple who are clearly in damage-control mode:

“We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain,” Apple said in the statement. “We insist that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made. Our suppliers must live up to these requirements if they want to keep doing business with Apple.”

It is important to see why this PR statement is just not true. The people running Apple know that if they really wanted their gadgetry manufactured in safe, dignified, and environmentally friendly workplaces, there is an easy way to do so: they could simply keep their production lines at home (or in any developed country with enforced labor standards) instead of outsourcing them to anonymous and remote factories in China where slaves toil behind impenetrable security fences. So there is an easy means of doing it but a price to be paid to have these items manufactured in humane conditions. And it’s a small price to pay considering that Apple is making roughly $450 per iPhone. The trouble is that Apple and its shareholders are simply not willing to pay that price because it would mean a reduction in profits.  They should at least be honest about that.

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One Response to More on the Apple sweatshops

  1. wk
    September 29, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    iPhone 5: did anything change? No, it’s still 8$ for manufacturing – while still making $420+ in pure revenue.

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