iPod Cities: Massive Chinese iPod Sweatshops

This morning we’re going to be doing some hating on Apple. Might as well just warn you now. So if you’re one of those smug idiot Apple zealots who were the main reason why I put off buying a Mac for as long as I did, you might want to avert your eyes. Because Steve Jobs isn’t God, iTunes DRM sucks and, oh yeah: iPods are made in Chinese sweatshops.

According to the Mail on Sunday, the average Chinese worker who puts together that sleek, reflective black iPod 5G for you works fifteen hours a day in a dirty factory surrounded by police and makes only

27 a month. We don’t know how many iPods you can make in a fifteen hour shift, but no matter how you slice it, that translates to pennies per iPod.

All employees live on the factory grounds. Long hours and lack of money practically cut them off from the rest of the world. How many people live in these iPod cities? One factory supposedly houses two hundred thousand workers: “This iPod City has a population bigger than Newcastle’s.”

If this report is true, this certainly makes me love my new iPod less. Oh, who am I kidding? It could be made with human flesh and only play mp3s of the Necronomicon Ex Mortis for all I care. I am a sucker for sex appeal.

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Inside Apple’s iPod factories [Macworld UK]


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  1. Mary Marsala With Fries says:

    That a Chinese corporation might be run that way is bad enough. But why do we allow *AMERICAN* corporations to do it, especially in lieu of paying decent money to AMERICANS who need the work?

    There is, however, a simple fix: Tax penalties equalling every dirty cent of profit Apple sees from using sweatshops. You want to keep the money, earn it legitimately, fuckwads.


  2. Falconfire says:

    Interesting take on this on Wired. Basically the article is without merit, and the company that makes them (Foxxcom) along with most tech companys in China are very progressive in their factories.

    What is seems is that they took where the iPods are manufactured (China) and lumped them in with the small factories that China has which are infact drty and poorly paid, and did not infact look into the actual company which has to abid by trade labor laws.

    That being said I dont doubt they arnt paid much, but thats a problem with China’s government, you cant expect companies to pay 40 thousand dollar salarys when they dont have to. Not to mention people seen to forget China is STILL communist country last I checked and thus has many social programs that mean less money the average citizen has to pay out of pocket.

  3. ModerateSnark says:

    Even if the article is without merit (as Falconfire pointed out), it would certainly be interesting to know what labor standards Apple sets (if any) for the contract manufacturers it uses in China, and how closely Apple monitors them for compliance. I’m sure Apple knows “we don’t own the factory” would be a cop-out.

    – – – – –

    I like Apple products but I’m not religious about it.

    I almost religiously hate Microsoft, but I remind myself that’s not my religion either.

    The fact that the article (with or without merit) came from Macworld demonstrates that many Mac people hold the Apple corporation and its products to high standards. I’d guess that the majority of Mac users are the “high standards” type, and the (noisier) minority are the “blindly fanatic” type.

  4. Ben Popken says:

    Ryan writes:

    “Hello fine fellows,

    I just read your iPod Sweatshop-related article, and became curious when you mentioned that factory workers only make 27 British Pounds a month.
    So I converted that price into Chinese Currency, and it equals roughly 397 China Yuan Renminbi (which is a crappy thing to call money, but hey to each his own).

    Curious as to the actual worth of 397 Yuan in terms of the Chinese marketplace, I did a little research (keyword: little). I found this article which talks about rising Chinese wages, and how they’ve risen 40% to an average of $160 a month.

    At first I was thinking “well there you go, the factory workers are paid well.” This was based upon me assuming that after conversion, $160 would be less than 397 Yuan.

    Turns out no. $160 equates to 1,283 Yuan.

    So yes, the Chinese factory workers are getting screwed.

    But then again, all factory workers get screwed.”