Video footage from iPad production line released
- — 13 April, 2012 03:18
Marketplace's radio reports and video aim to provide a truthful insight into the lives of the workers that construct Apple's iPads. Schmitz is only the second journalist to be allowed to visit Apple's production lines in China, after he found Mike Daisey's misconduct allegations against Apple were largely fabricated.
"Last week, Marketplace's Rob Schmitz actually got inside a Foxconn factory in the southern city of Shenzhen. He didn't meet anybody who was poisoned on the job. He didn't meet any 13-year-old workers. Nobody he talked to had been hurt in an explosion. He says the stories he heard were more about China than Apple," said Marketplace's Kia Ryssdal during the report's introduction.
"The first misconception I had about Foxconn's Longhua facility in the city of Schenzhen was that I've always called it a 'factory' - technically, it is. But after you enter the gates and walk around, you quickly realise that it's also a city - 240,000 people work here. Nearly 50,000 of them live on campus in shared dorm rooms," describes Schmitz.
Schmitz says that he has spoken to several workers at Foxconn factories in China, many of which have moved away from their families to built up coastal areas in order to earn more money.
One of the workers Schmitz spoke to was Chen Xiaomin, who said: "I don't like this job at all. You don't learn anything. It's useless and repetitive. When our supervisors put pressure on us, I feel like: "We're not machines." If we were machines, we could probably work as hard as they want us to, but we're people."
Schmitz explains what working in factories assembling products such as the iPad and iPhone is like. "It's hard to feel like a person when you're one of thousands of workers doing one simple task over and over for 10 hours a day. Every single part of an iPad is fastened by a worker in a motion that takes just seconds. When finished, the worker scans the iPad, eliciting a robotic "OK," and sends it down the line. That task will be repeated hundreds of times a day. It's hard not to feel like a machine."
However, Chen tells Schmitz that the Foxconn factory is one of the best factories to work at in Shenzhen, China. "Foxconn pays her on time, and the company doesn't always cheat you on overtime pay like other factories do."
In his report on 10 April, Schmitz revealed that the iPad's assembly is currently a process in which the devices are almost completely handmade, but increasing amounts of machines are being used to replace workers, meaning many employees are losing their jobs.
Zhang Yilin tells Schmitz that despite what people from the UK and US might think, factories help people in China who are really struggling financially. "The money you make working at a factory will help the next generation... If you make money here and send it back home, it can make all the difference."
Pregnant worker Xiong Yefei fears for the health of her baby, because she works cleaning iPad components with an alcohol solution that gives of fumes that make her sick.
"A supervisor told me the fumes wouldn't harm the baby, but I'd still like to be transferred to another part of the line. When I asked my supervisors they said no. And now they're making me work the night shift," Xiong tells Schmitz.
Investigations into the conditions of Apple's production lines in China continue.