Steve Jobs says Foxconn is a “pretty nice” place to work. If he thinks that will stand up to even a cursory examination of life for China’s industrial workers, he is kidding himself. And if he thinks that can shield Apple from a big hit to its fragile brand image he is also kidding himself.
There are decades of academic and NGO research on the horrific conditions faced by Chinese workers. And this report by Bloomberg makes clear that Foxconn is no exception.
I recall a meeting I had a few years ago (in Steve Jobs’ hometown Palo Alto no less where he said so callously the other day that Gunn High School kids commit suicide, too) with a visiting workers compensation lawyer from China. He described the thousands of Chinese workers who return to their rural villages minus eyes and limbs or suffering from neurological or respiratory diseases, all the result of working in plants like those managed by Apple/Dell/Sony subcontractors.
I thought at the time that he was describing something resembling the return of wounded soldiers after the American Civil War.
Apple should publicly call for an independent investigation of conditions in Valley subcontractors and support the formation of independent trade unions and the establishment of enforceable labor laws.