"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wanted: Computer of Apple Quality Not Made in Poisonous Factory by Slave Labor

Yesterday I was at the gym watching on closed caption the story of Apple's cash problems.  Seems they have almost a hundred billion bucks (more than most European countries) that they don't know what do with, except to hold it for the next inevitable bankster-inspired economic depression.  

Looks like they could at least afford haz-mat suits for the Chinese peasants who get paid pennies to polish their expensive Apples in plants where suicide provides an attractive alternative to a life of hell. 

I've been an Apple user for a long time, but I am definitely looking for another option that doesn't run on Gates.  

A tiny clip from the NYTimes:
. . . . the workers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices often labor in harsh conditions, according to employees inside those plants, worker advocates and documents published by companies themselves. Problems are as varied as onerous work environments and serious — sometimes deadly — safety problems. 

Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk. Under-age workers have helped build Apple’s products, and the company’s suppliers have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and falsified records, according to company reports and advocacy groups that, within China, are often considered reliable, independent monitors. 

More troubling, the groups say, is some suppliers’ disregard for workers’ health. Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to clean iPhone screens. Within seven months last year, two explosions at iPad factories, including in Chengdu, killed four people and injured 77. Before those blasts, Apple had been alerted to hazardous conditions inside the Chengdu plant, according to a Chinese group that published that warning

“If Apple was warned, and didn’t act, that’s reprehensible,” said Nicholas Ashford, a former chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, a group that advises the United States Labor Department. “But what’s morally repugnant in one country is accepted business practices in another, and companies take advantage of that.” 

Apple is not the only electronics company doing business within a troubling supply system. Bleak working conditions have been documented at factories manufacturing products for Dell, Hewlett-Packard, I.B.M., Lenovo, Motorola, Nokia, Sony, Toshiba and others. 

Current and former Apple executives, moreover, say the company has made significant strides in improving factories in recent years. Apple has a supplier code of conduct that details standards on labor issues, safety protections and other topics. The company has mounted a vigorous auditing campaign, and when abuses are discovered, Apple says, corrections are demanded. 

And Apple’s annual supplier responsibility reports, in many cases, are the first to report abuses. This month, for the first time, the company released a list identifying many of its suppliers. 

But significant problems remain. More than half of the suppliers audited by Apple have violated at least one aspect of the code of conduct every year since 2007, according to Apple’s reports, and in some instances have violated the law. While many violations involve working conditions, rather than safety hazards, troubling patterns persist. 

“Apple never cared about anything other than increasing product quality and decreasing production cost,” said Li Mingqi, who until April worked in management at Foxconn Technology, one of Apple’s most important manufacturing partners. Mr. Li, who is suing Foxconn over his dismissal, helped manage the Chengdu factory where the explosion occurred.
“Workers’ welfare has nothing to do with their interests,” he said.. . . .

1 comment:

  1. All the while the right (including the right that masquerades as left) continues to insist that our "knowledge economy" and increased reliance on technology have removed all the reasons for industrial unionism. They say (and we hear this from the corporate ed-deformers too) that in this new age the rift between management and workers doesn't exist, that they work harmoniously together, and that we live in a post-classist as well as post-racial society. Unions, they say, are an anachronism today. Dana Goldstein can shill all she wants about "meritocratic innovation," but the German philosopher nailed the real social relations in our society when he wrote: "in a word, oppressor and oppressed."

    Hence the working conditions at high tech manufacturing plants are akin to those of the apex of the gilded age, and they exist at the very heart of what is claimed to have transformed class society into a technological utopia. Where are our Upton Sinclairs and John Reeds today?

    What's clear is that the drive for profit still produces abject conditions wherever it nestles, settles, and establishes connections. Exploitation, as brutal as ever, is still the heart of this economic system, and always will be.