The iPhone 4S will come at several price levels, from $199 for a 16-gigabyte model to $399 for a 64GB version. The new Apple CEO Tim Cook gets $383.6 Million worth of Apple stock, while his workers only get $1 or less an hour to make a phone costing you $400...which the "techies" say gets a big fat "F".
It's pity that poorly paid workers are said to work excessive hours and suffer humiliations in the drive to produce iPads and iPhones. And the spate of suicides also made headlines around the world.
"We sold 45 million iPods in the past year," boasted Apple CEO Tim Cook said, according to MG Siegler, who is live-blogging the event over at TechCrunch. "Almost half of those are going to people buying their first iPod."
In China (Shenzhen and Chengdu) a joint Foxconn workforce of 500,000 is providing the labor that, in the first quarter of 2011, contributed to Apple's net profit of $6 billion. Good news for Apple, but not for worker's conditions that would be considered shocking at the very least in America.
Apple CEO Tim Cook also rolled out many sales statistics and news on upcoming Apple Stores in China. And he mentioned that Apple's mobile products are also a hit with businesses, saying that 92 percent of Fortune 500 companies are testing or deploying the iPad, while 93 percent of the same group has taken up the iPhone.
Apple/Foxconn workers claim of illegally long hours and draconian rules for a basic wage for as little as $8.00 a day. Many Foxconn workers only manage to go home once a year.
Apple CEO Tim Cook brags that worldwide Apple has now sold some 250 million iOS devices.
The dormitories where workers live offer little comfort - up to 24 people can share one room - and the rules are very strict.
Many workers claimed that they were regularly required to work far in excess of the 36 hours of overtime per month that Chinese law (and therefore international labor law) permits. At Chengdu it was claimed that anything between 60 and 80 hours of overtime a month was normal. One worker produced a payslip showing 98 hours of extra time in a single month – nearly three times the legal maximum and in breach of Apple's own code of conduct. The rule that employees should have one day off in seven is often flouted, some claimed.
Others said that if they missed targets, they had to work through their lunch breaks to make up for it. When they do get a day off, they spend much of it catching up on sleep. During work, some employees claimed they were forbidden to speak to each other and some were forced to stand for hours without a break. Foxconn, a Fortune 500 company, does not deny it breaks the overtime laws, but claims that all overtime is voluntary.
Workers who step out of line can be publicly humiliated, it is alleged. "When a worker makes a mistake, when he talks or laughs loudly, he will be humiliated," a production worker said. "Sometimes you have to stand like a soldier in front of everybody. It is a loss of dignity and means an extra pressure for the worker."
A typical working day in Chengdu means getting up at 6.30am, catching a bus for the 30-minute ride to the factory at 7.10am and attending a compulsory – but unpaid – assembly at 8.10am, before starting work at 8.30am. Shifts, including overtime and breaks, end at 8.30pm. Night shifts follow a similar pattern; with demand for the iPad2 outstripping supply in many countries, this is a round-the-clock operation. Demand for the first iPad was so intense that workers claim they had to put in a seven-day week during peak production period.
"We only had a rest day every 13 days," claimed one. "And there was no overtime premium for weekends. Working for 12 hours a day really made me exhausted." Sacom says the company's initial response to the suicides was to bring in monks to exorcise evil spirits. The chief executive later suggested workers were committing suicide to secure large compensation payments for their families. Workers were even asked to sign a document promising not to commit suicide and pledging that if they did their families would not claim more compensation than the legal minimum.
Eventually, the company raised wages at Shenzhen, though it is currently switching much of its production to Chengdu, where it expects to eventually employ 200,000 people. There are about 400,000 workers at Shenzhen, a number expected to drop to around 300,000.
The company concedes that it has faced "some very challenging months for everyone associated with the Foxconn family and the loss of a number of colleagues to tragic suicides. The work is so monotonous and they are so young. When they start this job they have no idea what they are letting themselves in for. They don't have a social life any more. Their life is just working in a factory and that is it."
While Apple says it expects high standards from suppliers, its own audit reports suggest that many fall short. The latest figures show Foxconn's Chinese factories are not alone in working staff beyond the legal limits, with fewer than one in three supplier factories obeying the rules on working hours. The audits also show that 30% broke rules on wages and benefits, while 24% were in breach of strict rules on involuntary labor.
In Shenzhen and Chengdu, the workforce knows only too well that such conditions can all too often lead to despair and, last summer, to tragedy.
In a statement, Apple said: "Apple is committed to ensuring the highest standards of social responsibility throughout our supply base. Apple requires suppliers to commit to our comprehensive supplier."
Bullshit! Occupy Wall Street! Occupy Apple!
So all you good Americans who are complaining about not having a job, corporate tax cheats, and budget short-falls...just shut the hell up and buy yourself another damn iPhone.
ALSO READ MY OTHER POSTS:
iLove Apple but iHate Tax Cheats!
America's Race to the Bottom (and Sweat Shops) "The clothing store GAP pays under-aged girls 28¢ an hour to produce jeans that costs us $26.95 to buy in our malls across America."