This morning we showed you the preview of ABC Nightline’s exclusive look inside Foxconn that’s set to air tomorrow night. Apple has granted anchor Bill Weir unprecedented access to its Chinese supply chain, and ABC News has already published a fascinating report and gallery of pictures from its recent trip.
In a three-golf-cart convoy, both Apple and Foxconn reps took us around to a half dozen production lines in Shenzhen and Chengdu, and there were always five to six people with us as we toured the factories and dorms. But aside from suggesting a visit to the counseling center or canteen, they never steered us to interviews and never interrupted.
18 Foxconn employees have committed suicide over the last several years, helping to call into question the manufacturer’s treatment of its workers. According to ABC News, the suicide nets were a result of Tim Cook asking physiologists how to deter jumpers. Nearly 90 Foxconn workers have been injured in a series of explosions at iPad and iPhone plants over the last couple years. The giant manufacturer employs over 1 million people.
Foxconn’s employees make so little that the Chinese government doesn’t even withdraw payroll taxes. When you buy a new iPhone, you’re spending about the same amount that Foxconn worker will make in an entire month.
As China’s largest exporter, only the government employs more people than Foxconn, and the company earns more revenue than their next 10 competitors combined. Apple may be their most famous customer, but Foxconn also churns out products for Sony, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, I.B.M., Motorola, Toshiba and other major brands, keeping the details of each production line wrapped in total secrecy.
In order to make gadgets like the Xbox, the PlayStation and the Amazon Kindle this campus employs 235,000 people, roughly the population of Orlando, Fla.
And everywhere you look, on every factory and dormitory, in every stairwell and atrium, are suicide nets.