The quote, “do you really think Apple doesn’t know,” was something that struck me as interesting and stuck in my head throughout the podcast. As stated by Mike Daisy, it is pretty obvious that Apple is not oblivious to the conditions the workers in China face on a daily basis, as a company that is overly concerned with details clearly knows everything about what goes on in their own production plant and simply sees only what they want to see. This then begs the question, how much is Apple doing to fix this mistreatment and how much more should they do?
Due to the fact that I have had some previous educational experience learning about Foxconn and what goes on inside the fences, much of the information discussed in the podcast didn’t come as a surprise to me. I was not aware, however, of many of the details and intricacies of what life is like for a Foxconn employee and hearing Mike Daisy speak about it puts it in perspective. The conditions he described were horrendous. Workers are essentially putting themselves in jail for the sake of their families “well-being.” They live in tight concrete cells, are forced to stand all day, and must work extremely long hours just to make a somewhat adequate living. I was shocked when Daisy described the ways in which the workers’ bodies can actually deteriorate from doing a certain action or movement all day long over and over again. This health risks, along with the fact that a great deal of the workers are so young (some were described as being 12-14 years old), poses serious ethical problems for Foxconn and the working conditions.
One thing that Daisy mentioned that struck me as truly telling was the fact that the turnover rate was so high. From what I remember about Foxconn in my marketing class, the turnover rate could be as high as 35% per year, with some workers quitting after just one day of experiencing the Foxconn work life. Going back to the title of my post, is Apple actually a company that should have a cult like following? They are surely aware of what takes place in their factories, yet don’t seem to make any seriously influential changes, as to not hurt their productivity. I thought Daisy brought up a couple good points at the end of his discussion about changes that Apple and Foxconn could easily make, yet haven’t. Daisy mentions the fact that the workers in Foxconn could simply be rotated within the factory, as to decrease injuries due to ware-and-tare. Apple’s internal response to this suggestion would simply be that the worker’s wouldn’t be as efficient at doing jobs they aren’t experienced at and thus, will not meet the quota. What’s more important though, the well being of 430,000 workers, or producing the maximum number of electronics possible? He also mentions that their should be random inspections to make sure basic labor standards are met, instead of inspections that the managers are aware of and are able to prepare for. These are both things that are rather easy solutions to just a few of the many complex issues taking place daily at Foxconn.
The point is – Apple knows. It’s only a matter of how much they are willing to sacrifice.