Daisy on Foxconn

I found that Mike Daisy’s recount of the conditions of the Foxconn plant to be very graphic and disturbing.  However, I do not think that this is the fault of Apple, but rather Foxconn and the totalitarian regime of China.  The reason that the majority of U.S. products are manufactured in China is because the cost is so much cheaper than in the United States.  Unfortunately, this cheap labor breeds awful working conditions.  The Chinese government does not enforce labor standards, allowing for underage workers, harsh conditions, extended hours, and low wages.  Foxconn operates on the basis of many Chinese companies that people are expendable and like parts of a machine.

Apple, on the other hand, has done nothing wrong.  It periodically checks the plants for stable working conditions and—at least on the surface—investigates any labor issues that occur.  Daisy even recounted that Foxconn knew when the plants were being audited and would adjust their standards accordingly.  But the real point—though a controversial one—is that Apple needs the low cost labor of Foxconn to exist in the first place.  If Foxconn increased wages and benefits to the levels that Americans enjoy, Apple would cease to exist, as the average wage in China is $2.00 compared to the average wage in the U.S. of $34.75 (this would be an additional $25 billion per year in costs and Apple makes roughly $14 billion) 1.

While the conditions in China are terrible, we cannot blame Apple for producing its products there to stay in business (focusing on the design of their products that consumers love so much).  It is the role of the Chinese government to enact and enforce laws that help the people gain better working conditions, as companies like Foxconn are designed to minimize costs at all costs.  However, as we have seen before from the communist China (i.e. sending a 14-year old to the Olympics in 2000), the government only views its citizens as tools to serve the state.


1 – http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesleadershipforum/2012/01/25/the-real-reason-the-u-s-doesnt-make-iphones-we-wouldnt-want-to/


8 comments on “Daisy on Foxconn

  1. I just find it hard to believe the Apple is that ignorant to what is going on. Of course it is on China to actively check up on these factories and enforce some sort of labor laws, but Apple should realize that what they profit from is morally wrong. A company that powerful and focused on small details should not just overlook this exploitation.

    • I’m not saying that Apple isn’t completely ignorant of what is happening, but rather, that they are in a difficult position where they are forced to look the other way. The purpose of a supplier is to produce at the lowest possible cost at terms that are best for the company buying from them. Apple has very high demand that the vast majority of suppliers cannot dream of filling. Foxconn, though it has terrible working conditions, is one of the few companies that can produce at the capacity that Apple needs to survive. It is also characteristic of factories in China to have poor working conditions, as companies like Microsoft have had similar problems. Apple has tried to make the best of the situation, and has investigated the labor conditions, which is essentially all they can do, since everything else is rumor and speculation (I know Daisy saw it but it needs to be seen by someone in a “credible” position, like an investigator or official). Apple has been recently trying to move away from Foxconn towards a company called Pegatron, which might have something to do with morality (I don’t know what Pegatron’s working conditions are like). Bottom line: Apple has no choice but to use Foxconn at the moment because it needs Foxconn to survive.

      • While I agree Apple has a responsibility to meet the demands of the consumer I dont agree that they should meet those demands through the unfair treatment and sacrifice of human rights. To say that Apple needs Foxconn and has no other choices is a fairly unrealistic comment. They have other options but those options are not ones that Apple may find financially favorable but sometimes a company needs to be responsible and take a hit to the bottom line to do the right thing.

  2. What I find most interesting about your post is the argument that Apple has no choice. Sure, most companies focus to a considerable degree on cutting costs out of the supply chain. But to assume that companies must do this “at all costs” is simplifying the process of how companies make choices. Apple has an incredibly high gross profit margin (they make a considerable amount of profit after costs of the products are subtracted), in fact this was one of the reasons that they decide to start issuing dividends last year. The company simply had too much cash on hand. With that said, to think of Apple as a company that is somehow backed into a corner and “forced” to produce its products the way they are currently made, makes the wrong assumption about the company’s power.

    Another question you pose, though not directly, is about the role of business in countries with human rights violations. Ideally, governments are responsible for the wellbeing of their citizens. But when a government fails to support its people at the most basic levels, what is to be done? You do not seem to think that business has a role in improving these conditions, but then who does? Its clear that change is needed.

  3. Like it was said above, it is hard to believe that Apple and other companies are unaware of the working conditions in these factories. I feel that large tech companies like Apple and Microsoft are such a large portion of companies like Foxconn’s business that if they wanted to they could pressure Foxxconn into changing their policies on working conditions. So if they truly cared about the workers in China, they would have done so by now.

  4. All I’m saying (and maybe I didn’t get my point across earlier) is that it is very hard for Apple to switch suppliers in a short period of time. Samsung arguably stole their product design and Apple still has them as their main supplier for chips because it is very difficult to find a supplier that can match their demand. I’m not endorsing Apple in that they have Foxconn as a supplier (in fact, I think they should fire Foxconn when they can find an alternative), or in any way saying that corporations have no responsibility to their workers. I guess I have more of a Milton point of view in that I think that Apple has to look out for its own survival first. They have started to transition from Foxconn to a company called Pegatron, so I personally think that they are trying to move away from the bad blood surrounding Foxconn and toward a more responsible supplier. The other thing that I think people are missing is that these employees are not Apple employees. If Apple moved away from them tomorrow, Foxconn would still manufacture products for Microsoft, Cisco, Sony, Dell, and several others in the terrible working conditions that occur now. The evil is not Apple; it’s Foxconn.

    • I Wonder How Much Knowledge Of The Product Leaks Out At Foxconn And How Long Before It Starts Designing Its Own Products To Compete. If The Product Is King, Why Out Source?

      Plus, I Dont Know Where YouGet $34 As The Average Us Wage.

  5. Pingback: Blog 2 Counsel Feedback | Biz Gov Soc Nueve- Mon Section

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