An 18-year-old Foxconn employee who had never seen or touched a finished Apple iPad agreed to talk to the press under condition of anonymity to describe the working conditions at the factories that assemble Apple’s immensely profitable gadgets.
Miss Chen (as CNN reporters decided to fictively call her) stared curiously at the iPad when she saw one for the first time. She was amazed by the tablet’s functionality, according to the network's feature report.
Living in a village outside of the southern megacity of Chongqing, Chen is just 18 years old. She is a student and an aspiring biologist, though she is forced to work as well.
She took a risk when she agreed to reveal Foxconn's military-like culture to the press, as workers are forbidden to challenge authority, or “criminal liability shall be investigated according to law.”
As the story goes, Chen was promised a great deal of benefits and little overtime when she applied for her job at Foxconn.
When she finally arrived at the factory, she learned a totally different story - only senior employees got benefits and sick leaves. She also had to do a lot of overtime work.
“During my first day of work, an older worker said to me, 'why did you come to Foxconn? Don't ever think about it again and leave right now',” said Chen. “Foxconn employees have a saying, ‘they use women as men and men as machines.’”
After learning all this, Ms. Chen had already made up her mind that she would return to her studies at a Chongqing university.
“It's so boring, I can't bear it anymore. Everyday is like: I get off from work and I go to bed. I get up in the morning, and I go to work. It is my daily routine and I almost feel like an animal,” said Ms. Chen.
Both Foxconn and Apple responded to comment requests from CNN and said that they took their responsibility to employees very seriously.
Apple, in particular, released this statement:
“We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. We insist that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made. Our suppliers must live up to these requirements if they want to keep doing business with Apple.”