A fire broke out over the weekend a Foxconn factory in China that is used to manufacture iPhones. The fire reportedly started Sunday night, although it was fortunately brought under control by the fire department before too much damage could take place.
Although Apple has been taking unprecedented measures in the industry to remedy the problem, the truth is that working on an assembly line mass-producing iPhones just sucks. But how bad a job is building iPhones in the grand scheme of things?
The Worst Jobs in the World Matrix, from Lapham’s Quarterly, tries to put the craptitude of working at Foxconn in a broader historical perspective. As you can see, slaving away in an electronics factory for 300 hours per month for $0.76 an hour is a difficult job, but it’s far less disgusting than being a Roman vomitorium attendant, less tedious than being a World of Warcraft gold farmer, less treacherous than being a Japanese subway pusher, and less fatal than being the court food taster for a 16th-century emperor. Perspective, people!
Foxconn is notorious for its tough working conditions and labor practices, but the company has started relaxing on some of its strict factory rules after two recent suicides occurred at its Zhengzhou factory last month.
Starting now, Foxconn has decided it will stop forcing workers from fraternizing with one another during work hours. Foxconn’s factories have used a “mute mode” policy with workers that prohibits any conversation that is not relevant to their jobs while in the workshop, but the iPhone-maker has decided it’s probably good for workers’ health to be able to talk to each other.
Foxconn has begun taking on new workers as it prepares to begin production of Apple’s next iPhone, according to two seperate reports from Bloombergand The Wall Street Journal.
The company has added to its numbers at an iPhone plant in Zhengzhou, eastern China, ending a freeze on recruitment that was implemented back in February. The new workers will reportedly assemble the upcoming “iPhone 5S,” as well as existing models that Apple has requested to boost capacity, a supply chain source said.
Foxconn has reportedly placed a recruitment freeze across most of its factories in China as the company slows production of the iPhone 5, the Financial Times reports. This is believed to be the first such freeze since 2009, and it’s seen as an emphasis of the “weakening demand” for some Apple products. But does the freeze really have anything to do with Apple’s devices?
There’s a belief that Apple makes new engineers work on fake products until they can be trusted. According one of the company’s former employees, Adam Lashinsky, who published the book Inside Apple last January, the Cupertino company hires people into so-called “dummy positions” until it’s confident that they can be a part of upcoming products without leaking information.
But how accurate are those claims? We know Apple takes secrecy very seriously, but would it really waste time and money on giving people fake projects just to ensure they won’t squeal?
After facing a lot of scrutiny for the past few years over working conditions at factories in China, Apple has made a lot of progress on cleaning up their manufacturing partners’ facilities. Pay has been increased. Forced overtime and child labor aren’t as frequent. And we haven’t heard of any massive brawls in a while.
Following Apple’s lead, HP has decided to get its act together in China as well by reducing the number of underage student laborers at its facilities in China.
Apple gadgets you buy in the future may have been assembled by machines as Apple’s biggest manufacturing partner, Foxconn, begins replacing its workers with robots. The move is expected to improve efficiency in Foxconn’s Chinese plants, as well as combat rising labor costs.
If you own a Mac or an iOS device, there’s a good chance it was assembled by the fine folks at the Foxconn factory in Shenzhen, China. Despite being born there, however, Apple’s latest gadgets aren’t exactly easy to get hold of in the city. But that’s set to change on Saturday, November 3, when the Cupertino company opens the doors to its first Shenzhen retail store.