Last quarter Apple churned out extraordinary profits: $13.06bn of them. But according to a New York Times article, Apple achieved these amazing profits on the backs of Chinese workers, who are subjected to punishing work conditions to ensure high-quality iPhones and iPads at the lowest possible price. While the company claims …
They'd better stick to Daft Punk's Harder Better Faster Stronger one
"...I'm willing to bet you'd pay more to know that iPhone and iPad manufacturing was humane and safe. I know I would"
I'm willing to say that "i" owners should be thinking differently and stop following the crowd, BAAAAAAA!!
It's all the dogs anyway.
it's not just money........
As the blessed Steve made clear to Obama (http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20120123/ARTICLE/301239999/2055/NEWS?Title=Apple-s-Jobs-to-Obama-jobs-aren-t-coming-back-to-U-S-), it's the massive number of skilled workers and the ability of companies like Foxconn to ramp up/down and rapidly make changes which simply cannot be matched in western Europe or the US economies. Of course there's nothing to stop Apple reducing their profit margin and insisting that the Chinese subcontractors pay their workers more.
Better than the alternatives
Nobody forces employees to work in Apple suppliers' factories. They choose to do so because the alternatives available in their country pay less or have worse working conditions. For example, would you rather scratch 5p an hour working arid farmland, or earn 15p an hour in an Apple factory? Factories owned by Foxconn and Pegatron are a stepping stone to better-paid, more pleasant jobs that become available as a country’s economy develops – ask any South Korean. Or would you rather the workers stay out in the fields, and in poverty, forever?
To suggest that consumers should pay more for a product because it is made by a company investing in a developing country is ludicrous.
And to all those screaming "Fair Trade!", I suggest you undertake a little research to understand just how much economic damage the Fair Trade programme causes through market distortion.
Jack Tramiel was known for squeezing his suppliers (and later, competitors) out of business by driving prices as low as possible. So if Foxconn's manufacturing expenses rose and it couldn't remain profitable anymore, Jack wouldn't pay a cent more. He'd just find another supplier or tell this one to continue as is (until it goes bankrupt).
Did it ever reach the point...?
...where NO ONE was willing to go that low (IOW, his demand curve detached from their supply curves), forcing him to either raise or go without?
Stop blaming Apple.
Buying Apple products while complaining about the conditions of it's workers is like a bloke who continually throws more wood onto a fire but complains that the fire won't go out.
If you want Apple to change, stop buying their iProducts.
If you're not willing to do that, then stop whining about the workers' conditions, or anything else the company does, because it will never, ever change.
More than just tech
This whole outsourcing for sub-human wages actually extends far and wide through western civilization. Most ad building these days is being done in India. Publishing houses sell the ads, but everything is shifted (images, text files, etc) to India, where very low paid workers assemble the ads. Once the ad is built, the entire pdf is electronically shipped back to the publishing house where it gets dropped into the page layout and published. Most of the ad builders have a private website where the ad buyer and publisher can view pages and accept/decline/recommend changes on the fly.
Same thing for the legal profession. Many law firms (particularly the large ones) employee researchers in India (and other countries) to go though case law records to find the material they need for their cases.
We all already know about call centers. Having had to support publishing for a time, I had to deal with Quark on a regular basis. Call center was in India, and it was pure torture trying to get authentication codes for upgrades over the phone - the codes were 48 characters in length.
Even McDonalds did some market tests where the drive-through order taker was actually in a foreign call center. The customer would place the order, which was then pushed to the local McDs to complete. The idea was dropped (at least for now) due to customer unhappiness with accent issues.
ABC News did a story not too long ago about the foreign product content in our homes. They would pick just one room and then remove everything made/assembled overseas. Guess what? The one episode I saw only one item was left in the room. So much of our day-to-day stuff is made overseas in sweatshops that the average consumer probably can't even begin to comprehend it. So before casting that first stone, check around your house.
It should be mandatory that any European or US CEO who desires to have products produced in China and sold in the UK or US, must work as a Chinese slave for five years before the products can be produced in China.
And who would be the slave master enforcing that requirement?
Anyone suggesting mandatory enslavement should try the medicine themselves.
For what it's worth, the workers at FoxConn actually have the freedom to quit, so they are not slaves . . . unlike the young American boys and girls who have mistakenly signed up with the military because dumb minimum wage laws have banished private sector jobs for the same young people.
Why Pay more
How about apple take some of that cool 13 Billion dollar profit and make work conditions better. I am sorry, $600 for a tablet is a bit much for me thank you.
Anyone get basic economics?
If you really want to object to Apple (which I have no problem with) then you should be taking issue with their walled garden philosophy. The conditions at the Foxconn factories are already far better than the Chinese average. Should this stupidity actually gain any traction it will actually hurt workers/conditions in China by slowing/reversing conditions.
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