Nightline featured Apple’s elusive factory in Chengdu, China last night that showcased how the world’s most beloved Apple products are made. The Foxconn facilities employ nearly 3,000 workers a day, most of who have moved from their rural villages in hopes of working for a decent wage. Nightline featured not only the spotless atmosphere of the factory floors, but also the cafeteria and the dorms that are each shared by at least six employees. According to PCMag.com, Nightline’s visit “happened in conjunction with the Fair Labor Association’s (FLA) audit of Foxconn facilities.”
Nightline’s Bill Weir, as he says before he steps into the factory, is the first reporter in the world who has ever been allowed to see inside the Chinese factories. Before entering, he must put on a static-proof suit and must go through several “air showers, because one speck of dust could ruin an entire line.” Weir walks into a spotless room with an assembly line of young Chinese men and women who are responsible for making every iProduct almost completely by hand. Nightline’s Bill Weir is given a tour by a top Foxconn executive who gives him information about the processes: it takes 141 steps to make an iPhone and five days and 325 hands to make an iPad. Nightline’s exclusive report also learns that each employee works a 12-hour shift at $1.78 an hour and is given two hour-long lunch breaks. The Nightline camera shows employees quickly eating their lunches, which cost about $.70, and heading to their work stations to catch a quick nap. The executive with Weir explains they are napping because of Chinese tradition, not exhaustion.
Nightline reported that although many employees complained about the low wages, working at Foxconn is a better alternative than staying in the rural villages where they grew up because of the scarcity of jobs. PCMag.com reported that despite the low wages and long hours, “they [workers] lined up by the thousands at dawn in order to snag a job at Foxconn. And Foxconn will hire about 80 percent of the 3,000 people waiting at the gates.”
Apparently, the number of suicides at Foxconn has provoked interest in the working conditions. The executive who gave the tour to Nightline told Weir that the number of suicides at the factory, nine within three months in 2010, is actually lower than the nation average. However, according to PCMag.com, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook traveled to the factory to “evaluate the situation.” Apparently, “Wages were raised, a counseling center was opened, and nets were placed around the dorms to stop jumpers.”
During the report, Weir interviews a factory worker, who had never seen a working iPad before, and shows her pictures of his kids on his own iPad. Weir asked her what she wants people who buy Apple products to know about her, and she replies, “I want them to know me. I want them to know we put a lot of effort in this product so when they use this please use it with care”