Apple Nightline tour reveals handmade iPhones

Feb 22, 2012
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Apple's behind-the-scenes Foxconn factory tour for ABC's Nightline has aired, leaving the company's fans and critics arguing over whether the "privileged" access unlocked any secrets or alleviated concerns over labor treatment. Many of the more astonishing figures surround the production processes for Apple's most coveted devices, the iPad and iPhone, which are for the most part built by hand by an ever-growing team of Foxconn workers. An iPhone, for instance, takes 141 construction steps, and there is huge demand for positions at the factory.

As for an iPad, each of the tablets takes five days to construct, coming into contact with more than 300 hands, TUAW observes. The camera module for the iPad is produced 24 hours a day, with two twelve hour shifts responsible for 300,000 each day. Training for new staff lasts for several days before they're unleashed on the production line.

Worker conditions, meanwhile, also came under scrutiny. The average wage is $1.78 per hour, and employees pay the equivalent of $17.50 per month to stay in a communal dorm sleeping 6-8, The Verge observes. Meals are not included, and cost around $0.70 for each sitting. The workers get two one-hour breaks for food, and often nap during the time not spent eating.

Most eye-catching, of course, are the suicide prevention nets that Foxconn strung up in mid-2010 after a spate of employees jumping from factory roofs. The Fair Labor Association (FLA) inspections Apple requested will be paid for by the Cupertino company itself, on top of the $250,000 it paid to join the FLA in the first place. Interestingly, Foxconn exec Louis Woo claimed the company would have no problems if Apple demanded they double worker salaries, though the manufacturer has already recently increased pay.

Arguments still rage over whether Apple should shoulder more blame for worker conditions or if the company is doing enough to ensure manufacturers treat their employees fairly. The full Nightline show can be watched here, but only in the US at the moment.


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