They are built by Foxconn, a Taiwanese company with its factory in Shenzhen, China. Foxconn employs over 400,000 workers and they work in appalling conditions – so much so that a group of workers recently threatened mass suicide if the company did not improve the working conditions.
We all love our iPhones and iPads and the Angry Birds on them but what is the human cost of these devices? Honestly, it is not clear if Apple is exploiting the workers or is it actually improving the workers’ life! After all, the alternatives available to these workers could be much worse – maybe a leg broken in 4 places is slightly better than a leg broken in 6 places! But it is clear that the high margins that Apple enjoys and makes it the darling of equity markets come, at least partially, from the bad conditions and absence of safety standards at it’s manufacturers.
This is not just Apple of course, most of the organizations that outsource to Foxconn and its brethren do so to improve margins and increase profitability – it would simply be uneconomical to manufacture in their home countries. And if you think about it, maybe we can’t blame Apple and the others – would an American buy an iPhone if it costs $ 1000 or a cuddly soft toy if it cost $50?
So these ‘improved’ conditions are actually subsidizing the lifestyle of rich country consumers.
Maybe political dialogue against globalization should include this subsidy rather then just the loss of jobs ??
Read the thought provoking article below: