'Nightline' tour of Apple factories in China put Foxconn on the spot

Wednesday, 22 February 2012 14:22
applelogo022212_optBY BOB HOLT

In ABC Nightline anchor Bill Weir’s tour of Apple factories in China that aired Tuesday night, a Foxconn executive supported the idea of doubling the pay of factory workers.

When Louis Woo was asked if he would accept doubling the pay for his workers if Apple demanded it, he said, “Why not?" according to The Verge. Woo said he would like it.

According to SlashGear, the company has just given its employees a pay increase of between 16 and 25 percent on Feb. 1. Monthly pay went from about 1,800 yuan, or $180 in American money in the past, to 2,200 and 2,500 yuan, around $220 to $250 at their Shenzhen plant.

Weir spoke with factory employees and their managers on his tour. Viewers even got a look at the suicide prevention nets that Apple attached to Foxconn buildings after a series of workplace suicides. Mail Online reported that Apple CEO Tim Cook visited Foxconn in 2010, and Apple surveyed employees and hired grief counselors. About 12 employees were involved.

And Weir learned that the iPad and iPhone are mostly handmade, according to Slash Gear. It takes 141 construction steps to manufacture an iPhone. The iPad is put together in five days, and production takes more than 300 hands. Its camera module is produced over two twelve hour shifts that are expected to produce 300,000 each day.

Other information about the factories found that Foxconn workers pay $.70 per meal for their own food, and many live in dorms that sleep six to eight a room for $17.50 each month.

Also, employees earn $1.78 an hour, and new Foxconn workers receive three days of training and "team building" exercises before starting employment. Seattlepi.com reported that 3,000 applicants report for recruiting sessions on Mondays at Foxconn, and about 85 percent of them are hired.

Apple has been facing considerable pressure to improve the conditions for workers at their Chinese factories. Forbes reports that the founder and president of SumOfUs.org and other groups are planning protests at Apple’s general shareholders meeting in Cupertino, California Thursday morning.

Apple joined the Fair Labor Association this year, and requested that the organization inspect their factories.