A rare and horrifying look at living conditions in an iPhone factory

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A Pegatron toilet that had to accommodate up to 40 workers.
Photo: The Daily Mail

A rare look inside the abandoned facilities where Chinese workers toiled away making iPhones reveals a grim environment that’s a long way from Silicon Valley’s plush lifestyle.

Depressing images reveal the tiny rooms where up to 12 Pegatron workers slept each night, the dirty dining areas where they ate, and the disgusting bathrooms where they washed.

Apple has been criticized countless times for seemingly turning a blind eye to the working conditions in Chinese factories, where its iPhones, iPads, and other devices are put together by workers who frequently carry out 12-hour shifts, six days a week for as little as $360 a month.

Previous reports have revealed how these conditions have led to worker riots and strikes, and even mass suicides.

Apple insists it is listening, and it prides itself on doing more than any other Silicon Valley giant to try and change that. It has laid out rules that its assembly partners must adhere to, hired investigators to carry out checks, and funded worker training.

But there’s still so much to be done. This is highlighted in an eye-opening exclusive from The Daily Mailwhich visited a recently abandoned Pegatron factory outside Shanghai where workers lived in shocking conditions as they assembled the iPhone 6.

While production was at its peak, 6,000 workers were crammed into the dormitories, which slept 8 to 12 people in tiny bunk beds. There are no private bathrooms, so workers were forced to shower alongside up to 20 colleagues at a time.

“There is a similar, stark lack of privacy in shared toilet blocks on each floor where squatting cubicles are positioned above open sewerage drains running the length of the toilet block, and in washrooms with long rows of wash basins,” reports The Mail.

In some toilet blocks, pools of green water lay on the floor, and mold covered the walls that featured handwritten signs laying out rules the workers must follow.

The tour also uncovered padlocked fences that separated the men’s and women’s dorms, and belongings that were abandoned when workers left for the Lunar New Year and were told they didn’t need to come back.

“At Apple, we are deeply committed to making sure everyone in our supply chain is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve,” reads a letter from Apple COO Jeff Williams in the company’s latest Supplier Responsibility Progress Report.

“Our team works hard to raise the bar every year to improve working conditions, provide educational opportunities, push for higher standards of living, and protect human rights.”

Pegatron still employs 50,000 factory workers, and continues to assemble products for Apple. But as its orders dwindled, this particular plant was closed down. As it was shuttered only eight weeks ago, the pictures still paint an accurate picture of current conditions.

Apple and Pegatron have allowed cameras into factories before, but this is the first time we’ve had a glimpse at the dormitories. Pegatron insists that the living conditions it creates are in compliance with its customers’ codes of conduct, while Apple offered no comment.

Check out The Mail’s full report to see all of the pictures.