iPod Workers: 15 hour days, $50 month

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by swingerofbirch, Jun 12, 2006.

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  1. pdpfilms macrumors 68020

    pdpfilms

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    #2
  2. swingerofbirch thread starter macrumors 68030

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    It seems so ironic to me. It seems that the politicians who push conservative Christianity into politics and claim that Christianity is under attack in the United States are the same ones who want unbridled trade with China which actually does put restraints on the practice of Christianity. I am not saying at all that is my largest grievance with China, but it seems the most ironic when it concerns our trade with China.
     
  3. FleurDuMal macrumors 68000

    FleurDuMal

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    #4
    Any UK users of Macrumors will no doubt appreciate the irony of The Mail running a 'human concern' story - the UK's most xenophobic, heartless and cold daily rag (think Fox News, but without the limited capacity for any sort of empathy). When they're in China, they're abused and exploited innocent victims of a faceless multinational; When they emigrate to seek a decent standard of living in the UK they become seedy, untrustworthy scroungers seeking an easy life.

    Plus, I'm sure you could take a quick glance at major Daily Mail shareholders and see a few businessmen with interests in companies with a less than unblemished human rights record.
     
  4. iGary Guest

    iGary

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    It's a different economy. Many people are obviously quite content to work building the players.

    15 hours? That's only three to five hours more than Rob or I work on an average say, so meh.

    Do I wish they were built here? Yeah.

    Could I afford one if they were? Probably not. :eek:
     
  5. FleurDuMal macrumors 68000

    FleurDuMal

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    Slightly misleading. They may only be 'content' to work building the players to the extent that their only alternative to taking such work is to starve. People in the forced labour camps of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were content to work as slaves to the extent they their only alternative was to get shot.
     
  6. swingerofbirch thread starter macrumors 68030

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    #7
    Yes, I agree it would be interesting to know how much buying power $50 has in the part of China these workers are at.
     
  7. swingerofbirch thread starter macrumors 68030

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    #8
    Out of curiosity I looked up the price of an iPod on the Apple China website, 30 gb iPod is 2,900 RMB, which according to Google is $361.88. So......am I correct that the iPod costs about $63 more in China than the US?
     
  8. iGary Guest

    iGary

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    Working seems a much better option than starving...I'd starve if I did not work.
     
  9. swingerofbirch thread starter macrumors 68030

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    If you live in the United States, I doubt it. If you said, that's it, I'm giving up, sat at home and did nothing and ate nothing, I would imagine someone would care enough to send you to a psychiatric hospital.
     
  10. DavidLeblond macrumors 68020

    DavidLeblond

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    #11
    Judging by the amount of homeless I've seen begging on the street, I doubt it.

    Of course if you REALLY wanted to have a roof over your head, all you have to do is commit a crime. They even gots cable TV!
     
  11. idkfa macrumors regular

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    #12
    Taken from identical thread in iPod forum:


    The entire idea behind this is flawed and inherently incorrect.

    First, you cannot look at how much they make compared to us, no matter how little. It is a different country, with a much more different economy and poverty index.

    Here are some figures for salaries of SKILLED workers in the PRC:

    AVERAGE ANNUAL PAY-CHINA
    Project manager: £12,173
    Software engineer: £6,998
    Accountant: £4,677
    Sales rep: £2,649
    Production worker: £1,214
    Source: Mercer Human Resource Consulting

    A salary of $50 US a month gives a annual salary of around £325 a year. Comparing the salaries of these UNSKILLED workers to SKILLED workers, it is not entirely unreasonable, all things considered. I have no direct sources to quote, but the average unskilled worker in the PRC gets between $50 - $70 US a month. This piece of "journalism is merely designed to rally people against "evil" corporate America, and tries to use our sense of economy and monatary state against them.

    Second, if they were not making iPod's in a "sweatshop", they would most certainly not be making anywhere near what they are getting now.

    Don't even try to look at your 6-10 USD/hour and make a comparison.

    idkfa
     
  12. FleurDuMal macrumors 68000

    FleurDuMal

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    #13
    Of course you'd starve if you did not work. But work for the unskilled in China is a worlds difference from work for your average, educated American (or any Westerner for that matter). In the US/West, if you were in a job where you were paid only a pittance a month, you'd have the option to leave and search for better paid employment. In China, where the wages for unskilled labour are universally a pittance, if you searched for employment elsewhere you wouldn't be able to find any better paid alternative.
     
  13. jaxstate macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    Wow. I hope this makes some type of national news here. I see why Apple wanted to do business with Nike, they can make the shoes and iPods in the same sweatshop.
     
  14. swingerofbirch thread starter macrumors 68030

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    #15
    In all honesty I don't think there will be a political answer to this problem. I think corporations will respond to consumer expectations.
     
  15. Blackheart macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    Then maybe they're getting paid too much.

    Forced labor, I'm against. But when people have the choice, there's enough competition for labor to force a market equilibrium on the price of labor.
     
  16. Timepass macrumors 65816

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    #17
    what people tend to forget is pay is based on cost of living. In the US for example cost of living is pretty high compared to the rest of the world. Same goes for any of the delepot countries.

    In those place you have to look at how safe is the work place, What is the cost of living there. And come on housing and food take up half is not more of most people income any how.

    lets see my parents are giving me 1k a month right now and is going to be adjusted down as soon as we figure out what the cost of bills and rent is going to be which is eastimated at around 800. Mostly it just balancing out the cost to how much my checking account is going to need and how much am I putting on the creited card each mount. so yeah that makes since in that case. (and before I get flamed for that cost. living on campus was about 830 a month when you broke down the cost. It costing less to live off campus than it did on.) But it is all relitive. In the US it cost quite a bit more to live. In some places in this world what a college stundent pays in living cost will in a week will cover some body for a year.
     
  17. OutThere macrumors 603

    OutThere

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    #18
    While the 'dorm' system sounds tyrannical and reeks of sweatshop, it actually sounds like a pretty good setup.

    The money that they're making goes straight to pocket with no cost or need to find a place to live.

    For those people concerned with the 15 hour days...step out of your bubble and realize that a huge portion of blue collar America works more than one job and easily 15 hours a day.

    If you're going to be condemning asian outsourcing, condemn WalMart. They're 10000 times more in the wrong than Apple ever has been.
     
  18. CorvusCamenarum macrumors 65816

    CorvusCamenarum

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    #19
    Seconded. The article [conveniently] neglects to mention several useful pieces of information:

    1) What is the average wage for workers in similar jobs?
    2) How does item 1 compare to the average standard of living there?
    3) What do these workers have in the way of monthly expenses (rent, food, utilities, health care, transportation, etc)?
    4) How much disposable income does this leave?

    It's really difficult to look at this and say "golly, they're only making $50 a month - they must all be destitute" when we don't know how the economy scales there. In fact, it's not always easy to compare standards of living in different regions of the same country. Example - my former roomate's sister was astounded that $700 a month here can get you a fairly nice 3/2 house (the sister lives out on the west coast...$700 would barely get a studio apartment there).
     
  19. California macrumors 68040

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    What I think? It is slavery by any other name. And it sickens me that Apple believes it is saving money by having these female slaves make our computers and iPods. The given reason for women in the jobs is that they are more honest than men -- i.e. less prone to theft and aiding counterfeiters, I'm sure. If Apple, or any other Western company sniffing "cheap labor" in China actually tallied up the costs of doing business there, -- especially the costs of counterfeit shuffles, etc., they would pull out in a minute. It makes me feel like I am in collusion with the totalitarians in control of the chinese government when I buy these types of goods. These workers LIVE at the factory! OMG, we outlawed this sort of labor abuse one hundred years ago in the West. It is wrong, really sick and wrong.
     
  20. OutThere macrumors 603

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    #21
    Believe it or not, large corporations spend an extraordinary amount of money researching how to save money. They're not building the iPods and computers in China because they just want to 'exploit' people. They're doing it because otherwise, Apple products would wind up costing twice as much as equivalent products from other people.

    We cannot extrapolate the working situation, quality of life or cost of living here in the U.S. to anywhere else in the world. It just doesn't work. You have no idea how much/month an apartment costs in different chinese cities, or how much food costs. According to the Big Mac Index the Chinese Yuan is highly undervalued, and Big Mac burgers are the cheapest in the world in China, almost 3 times cheaper than in the U.S.
     
  21. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    #22
    I'm with you on this one...in all areas.
     
  22. MACDRIVE macrumors 68000

    MACDRIVE

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    #23
    That's what they want you to think. They want you to think they are building their product in China to cut the consumer a good deal and leaving themselves a slim profit margin. Au contraire monfraire. ;)
     
  23. SpookTheHamster macrumors 65816

    SpookTheHamster

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    #24
    It says in that article that the people who don't live in the dorms get paid £54 a month, and paying for their housing and food takes up half their salary. It only costs them £27 for a month's accommodation and food?! Many unskilled workers over here are comparatively worse off, it costs way more than half their income to pay for a mortgage and food.
     
  24. Makosuke macrumors 603

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    #25
    Apple really should be setting a good example, and based on recent financial statements has the profit margin to do it.

    That said, I'm not entirely sure about these figures; they're claiming a plant that employs 200,000 people working 15 hour days, and implies that's primarily iPods (I say this based on the "iPod city" phrase, though one assumes the plants make other stuff, too).

    Now, with Apple selling around 8 million iPods a quarter (some of which are Shuffles, which they said are made at a different plant), that works out to 2.5 million iPods a month, maximum (assuming there are nearly zero shuffles sold, and almost all of the rest are made there), or 115K iPods per workday (assuming a 5-day week). Now, were all 200,000 people building iPods, that would work out to it taking almost two 15-hour person-days to assemble a single iPod.

    I could be mistaken here, but based on the takeaparts I've seen, and the fact that these plants are just assembly of parts from elsewhere, I seriously doubt it takes someone 25 hours of work to put a Nano together and box it up, even if absolutely everything was done by hand and not using machinery. Not to mention at $50 a day that would put the labor cost at $85 not including housing.

    Obviously it's not costing even a fraction of that to assemble an iPod (the parts ain't that cheap, and there's a rather fat margin on them), so either these numbers are drastically off somewhere, or only a tiny fraction of those workers are building iPods.

    I'm not saying that it's not entirely likely Apple is hiring a lowest-common-denominator company to assemble iPods, and I'd argue that at the very least they should be outsourcing to somewhere that's a "good" place to work, at least by local standards, but I'm not jumping to conclusions about an article that at the very least is misrepresenting Apple as having a city of 200,000 underpaid workers living in dorms cranking out iPods for the world.

    I'll wait to hear a little more before I make any decisions. Here's a Wired article that notes the contractor is generally considered pretty good by East Asian labor standards, and that the Mail article may be hyperbolic:

    http://www.wired.com/news/columns/0,71138-0.html?tw=wn_index_3
     
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