At the same time that the company is handing such a huge package to its chief executive, though, the workers in China who make Apple’s most well-known products continue to toil in tough conditions. Last year, a report from Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM), a Hong Kong-based advocacy and research group found that the Chinese workers at the Taiwanese-based company FoxConn — who assemble the iPad, as well as other high tech gadgets for Apple, HP, Microsoft and others — were forced to work loads of overtime, stand on their feet 14 hours a day, and live packed together in squalid dormitories.
So many FoxConn workers committed suicide that the company instituted a no-suicide pact for workers to sign and installed nets on factory roofs to prevent workers from jumping. In fact, reports surfaced today of a group of FoxConn workers threatening to commit suicide after the company reneged on payments it had promised them. Atlantic Wire has the details:
300 employees who worked making the Xbox 360 stood at the edge of the factory building, about to jump, after their boss reneged on promised compensation, reports English news site Want China Times. It’s not like this is the first time working conditions at Foxconn have made news outside China. But iPhone and Xbox sales surely haven’t lagged in the wake of those revelations and neither Apple nor Microsoft has done much of anything to fix things.
Instead of the raise they requested, these workers were given the following ultimatum: quit with compensation, or keep their jobs with no pay increase. Most quit and never got the money. That’s when the mass suicide threat came in.
Apple has said that it is addressing the plight of its Chinese workforce — particularly after an internal audit last year showed that 137 workers at a Chinese factory “had been seriously injured by a toxic chemical used in making the signature slick glass screens of the iPhone” — but so far not much seems to have changed.