Nightline's Foxconn report offers revealing look at factory

By Lex Friedman, Macworld |  Consumerization of IT, Apple, Foxconn

Workers have access to an Internet cafe, psychological facilities, and other niceties. When pressed for complaints, they say they want cheaper meals, nicer dorms, or more pay. Such complaints, as Weir points out, sound an awful lot like what college students in the U.S. might say, too.

Three moments

Most moving to me as I watched the report were a trio of interviews, and the visuals that accompanied them.

First, Weir showed literally thousands of Chinese citizens lined up respectfully, awaiting their opportunity to apply for work at Foxconn. Folks want to work at Foxconn. They want to do so very much. And Foxconn takes 80% of the folks who apply, according to Weir's report. Perhaps I'm being unintentionally naive, but I believe that the young people applying for jobs at Foxconn have a clear sense of what it's like. Even if we posit that current Foxconn employees would be loath to criticize their employer online via the Internet cafes within the dorms, we know that employees do get time off, and they eventually leave the factory for good, too. Word must have spread about what it's like to work at Foxconn, and yet folks aren't discouraged from wanting to work there. The 12-hour workday may be longer hours than a McDonald's shift here, and the work itself may be even more mind-numbingly repetitive than a fast food gig--but it's steady, paying, indoor work.

The second significant moment to me was when Weir showed a home in a village where a typical Foxconn employee may have moved from. The living conditions were painfully cramped, the home dilapidated. And the family members still there spoke happily that their loved ones had found gainful employment--with affordable housing--at Foxconn. There are plenty of problems in China, this moment drives home. But the problem isn't Apple.

And the third moment that stuck with me was in Weir's final on-screen interview with Louis Woo, seemingly the highest-ranking Foxconn executive to whom he had access. Weir asks Woo whether Foxconn would be comfortable with it if Apple offered--"out of the goodness of their hearts"--to double the salaries of every Foxconn employee who worked on Apple products. Woo's answer: "Why not?" He went on, saying that Foxconn would love if Apple doubled Foxconn's employees' salaries, since then everyone would want to work at Foxconn, because it would have the best salaries around.


Originally published on Macworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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