Of course, many of us have heard how the iPad will revolutionise our lives, how it will make things more convenient and how we’ll go for days without needing to turn on our computers. What many of us hadn’t heard about, until the report in today’s Observer, are the conditions under which these wonders of technology are produced.
According to the report, two NGOs have been in the process of interviewing staff at Foxconn, the leading producer of iPads, and have received consistent reports of excessive overtime, ritual humiliation and “anti-suicide contracts”:
“The dormitories where she and most others live offer little comfort. Up to 24 people can share one room and the rules are strict, even prohibiting the use of a kettle or a hairdryer…
Many workers interviewed 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 labour law – permits…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…”
This is a wake up call to many of us who enjoy using Apple products, and find it easy to forget the very real human consequences of our global economy. One person’s item of cheap technology usually costs someone, somewhere, a far greater price.