NYU Student Goes Undercover at Pegatron Factory, Offers Inside Look at iPhone Production

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by MacRumors, Apr 11, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    New York University graduate student Dejian Zeng spent last summer working in a Pegatron factory manufacturing the iPhone 6s and 7 as part of a summer project, where he got a first hand look at what factory life is like for a worker in China.

    Zeng did a extensive, detailed interview with Business Insider, where he shared his experience and offered up an inside glimpse at how factories like Pegatron work.

    When he first arrived at the factory, Zeng's job was in final assembly. His sole task was to put a sticker on the back of the iPhone 6s and add a screw, over and over again, a process that he said was "very boring."

    Employees at Pegatron are not allowed to bring in electronic devices, so there's no entertainment like music. Strict security measures are in place, including metal detectors, preventing outside devices from entering the factory.

    While Zeng started out assembling the iPhone 6s, the factory switched over to the iPhone 7 in August ahead of its September launch, providing an interesting look at how security ramps up when an unreleased device is being manufactured.

    According to Zeng, once the iPhone 7 was in trial production, the sensitivity of the metal detectors was ramped up, with no metal, including the metal of underwire bras, allowed through. Two security checks were also required, and new assembly line infrastructure had to be built. Apple employees were also on hand to keep an eye out for issues.
    Zeng earned the equivalent of $450 for a month of work, including overtime pay, for working up to 12 hours per day. Because of unpaid breaks, he was only paid for 10.5 hours. He was also provided with housing in a dorm with multiple other employees, but he had to pay for meals. At $450 per month, Zeng did not earn anywhere near enough to purchase one of the devices he was assembling, and he said most of his coworkers used Chinese smartphones from Oppo or similar brands rather than an iPhone.

    Still, he said some factory workers considered producing the unreleased iPhone "as a very cool thing," and everyone knew they were working on an upcoming device. Factory jobs, he said, weren't hated, but weren't liked, and turnover rates were "very high." "It's very normal for workers to leave after two weeks or a month," he said.
    On the subject of safety training, Zeng said Pegatron was "very careful" and the training was thorough. Workers only get two days of training, though, with most of the focus on safety, and they're also required to download a special app designed by Apple that includes additional training documents and information on overtime. Pegatron, he said, did seem to keep an eye out for safety issues and other problems like underage workers.

    According to an Apple spokesperson that spoke to Business Insider, Apple has employees on the ground at the Pegatron facility every day and performs regular audits to make sure employees aren't working more than 60 hours. Apple also pointed out that wages at Pegatron have increased 50 percent over the last five years and are higher than the Shanghai minimum wage.

    Zeng, who originally visited the factory in anticipation of a worker strike due to reduced wages and the elimination of bonuses, says his experience at the factory has affirmed that his plan for a career in human rights advocacy is the right choice.

    Zeng's full interview with Business Insider, which goes into much more detail on working conditions, employee routines, living quarters, food, overtime pay, safety procedures, and more, is well worth checking out.

    Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

    Article Link: NYU Student Goes Undercover at Pegatron Factory, Offers Inside Look at iPhone Production
  2. bobdobalina macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2010
    How about making the iPhone 8 $100 more costly, and using the money to pay for ethical manufacture instead of new features. Call it the "Human Rights" edition.
  3. Z400Racer37, Apr 11, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2017

    Z400Racer37 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 7, 2011
    What a loser. This guy kicks back in his cushy middle class lifestyle, and he has the NERVE to judge what other people CHOOSE to do for a living?? How much money per month does he think that those workers were making on the farm? Huh? How productive were they there? Living in absolute poverty ridden destitution? And he has the nerve to criticize them, because he finds their work "very boring"??? And now he wants to get involved with "human rights advocacy"???

    Let me guess: Shot in the dark. He wants these companies to pay their workers more. And when they're not willing or able to pay more, he'll tell the government to install a minimum wage, and price these kids out of a job. He'll FORCE them to NOT work at the rate that they thought was good for them; the rate they agreed to when they traveled from home to get the job in the first place.

    These kids *think* that they'll be better off making money, instead of starving in rural China, but ohh noooo here comes the NYU intellectual to tell him alllll about how to live his life the way the intellectuals think he should live it, or else. Good think he was there to FORCE his idiotic opinions on others.

    And by the way, that's about 40% of what I make in the U.S., I have all of Apples latest products, I pay my rent on time, and I save money, and their cost of living isn't nearly as high.

    Maybe this kid should mind his business and shut up, instead of advocating for the violation of the rights that he claims to want to uphold. You don't have a RIGHT to INITIATE FORCE against anyone for ANY reason. Therefore, you don't have a right to tell people BY FORCE that they can't take a job, or that they can only take it under the terms that YOU prefer. Any claim to such a right is an absurd contradiction.
  4. Nunyabinez macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2010
    Provo, UT
    Shocking news story: Grad Student From Top University Didn't Enjoy Assembling iPhones in a Factory. Film at 11:00
  5. stiligFox macrumors 65816


    Apr 24, 2009
    ??? How is he a loser exactly?
  6. chakdey macrumors regular

    Aug 9, 2008
  7. barkomatic macrumors 68040

    Aug 8, 2008
    Factory work everywhere is boring and people don't like to do it in general--nothing new there. If the company is looking out for underage workers and is paying a wage higher than the average in the area--what are the human rights violations?
  8. c0ppo macrumors 65816


    Feb 11, 2013
    How about our clothes? Nike? Adidas? Dolce?

    Everything is made that way. E V E R Y T H I N G!
    And this post was not meant to defend Apple, I would never do that. It was meant to say that everyone does it. And if Apple would stop, then their prices go up, and competition destroys them. But if everyone who is saddened by this video just stops purchasing clothes, electronics, etc. -> then something would change.

    But how would anyone manage to do that?
    By all means, I am all for higher prices if it means better working conditions and a higher pay to any human being. But we have to change it all, not just Apple, or just IT sector. I do mean ALL!
  9. SBlue1 macrumors 65816


    Oct 17, 2008
    Wait, the factory workers could not afford to buy the iPhone? What a shame! Let me ask at www.ferrari-rumors.com if the Ferrari workers all own Ferraris.
  10. soanis macrumors regular


    Apr 15, 2013
    You do realise there's not only Nike or Adidas around, right? You can easily find sportswear from brands that manufacture in the US or Europe. It is going to cost you more, that's for sure, so try to pick up and be satisfied with less, more durable stuff.
  11. trainwrecka macrumors 6502

    Apr 24, 2007
    Because the iPhone is already the "expensive" option to most people.
  12. cocky jeremy macrumors 68040

    cocky jeremy

    Jul 12, 2008
    Columbus, OH
    Ummmm.. no thanks.
  13. Dozer_Zaibatsu macrumors member


    Mar 16, 2017
    North America
    It reminds me that this article is an evergreen. You often can find what you're looking for. Especially if you're a grad student. Grad student's apartment is a kafka-esque nightmare.
  14. Rogifan macrumors Core


    Nov 14, 2011
    And who determines what is ethical?
  15. tridley68 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 28, 2014
    After reading this I consider myself very lucky to live and work in the united states.
  16. OldSchoolMacGuy Suspended


    Jul 10, 2008
    A university graduate thought that the process of putting a sticker on and a screw in all day long was very boring? Stop the presses, this is front page news!!!!!
  17. c0ppo macrumors 65816


    Feb 11, 2013
    I've mentioned them just for example, not to single them out.
    And kinda hard to find anything made in EU/US in my own country (Croatia). If it even exists, I haven't seen it anywhere :(
  18. sputnikv macrumors 6502


    Oct 3, 2009
    most americans don't realize how awful factory work is in general
  19. 78Bandit macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2009
    $450 for a month of 60 hour weeks. That's less than $2 per hour. It is no surprise that Apple and other companies will ship production overseas for that kind of cost savings. In America that amount of labor would cost over $2,000 plus benefits like social security, medicare, worker's comp, and unemployment.

    Of course the flip side is Apple is still paying the local population more than they would be making elsewhere.

    It is really no different than with the auto industry as jobs shift from the $50/hour union jobs in Detroit to the $20/hour jobs in the American South and eventually to the even lower wages in Mexico and South America. The locals who are in much more dire financial straits will welcome any job over the poverty they currently experience.

    Apple is probably one of the few companies who possibly could shift production to the USA and get away with the higher prices for their goods, but eventually commoditization will catch up and they would be forced to shift to areas with low labor costs.

    Welcome to the future, your job is only as stable as a companies ability to build a factory and ship the product back over here cheaper.
  20. BuffyzDead macrumors member


    Dec 30, 2008
    So much for making iPhones in the USA.
  21. djlythium macrumors 6502a


    Jun 11, 2014
    Good insight. I wonder if Apple knew about this report before its release (if it said so in the article, I missed it).

    That said, thank you to all of the assembly workers who create our devices!
  22. d4rkc4sm macrumors 6502


    Apr 23, 2011
    this is why you should go to college. even then a college degree doesn't guarantee s**t. time for a revolution.
  23. DocRock macrumors newbie


    Apr 11, 2017
    I cannot speak for Pegatron but I visited Foxconn two years ago and the scene was very different. It was like a town with 500K employees making all kinds of kit.

    In the parts I was allowed to see, where they make the machines that make the iPhones, every was having fun and didn't seems stressed or over worked. What makes we wonder about this story is Foxconn's iPhone rooms are fully automated with almost no human hand touching them until packaging. It's all robotic because of Apple's high tolerance needs. Remember Liam... yeah all his family build and will take apart iPhones.

    I also got to see people putting on the LTE plastic covers on the back of iPads and again about 100 people in a room all talking story and cracking jokes... no Mike Daisy horror stories. Because I was curious and Daisy's lie was not that old yet I ask about suicides and the guide told me in 2015 (I was there in 2016) they had 12 suicides... based on a populating of half million mostly college aged folks I'd say that pretty low. (US Rates in 2016 at Unis is 7.5 per 100K students)

    Anyway just some insights, not saying he's making it up just know the scene at Foxconn is very different.
  24. Aston441 macrumors 65816

    Sep 16, 2014
    So it was like any other lousy job. I've worked worse jobs. Advocate for human rights lol? Why don't you go be productive instead? Go get a job kid and keep your SJW BS to yourself.
  25. bobdobalina, Apr 11, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2017

    bobdobalina macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2010
    The reason why this is and should be news is because few people care when Chinese workers feel dehumanized by dehumanizing and underpaid work. When a US student (who middle+ class readers will empathize with) experiences this, people listen, and attention can be drawn back towards the more typical China based worker.

    Instead of criticizing the student, or media coverage of the student's experience, that criticism should be redirected towards pressuring US clients of China based manufacturers to equalize the importance of US-based workers' experiences with Chinese workers' experiences, and the reverse.

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