Chinese undercover reporter builds iPhone 5, describes ‘nightmare’ factory

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On the eve of the eagerly anticipated iPhone 5 launch, concerns about the conditions under which it’s made have resurfaced. A Chinese reporter has gone undercover at a Foxconn factory in a bid to reveal exactly what it takes to make your beloved Apple device.

The reporter, who works for the Shanghai Evening Post, spent 10 days undercover at the factory, working on the assembly line where the new iPhone is being made. The story (translated by MIC Gadget) includes revelations about the shared dormitory accommodation the workers stay in, Foxconn’s worker contracts, and the assembly line conditions.

The accommodation:

The first night sleeping at Foxconn dormitory is a nightmare. The whole dormitory smells like garbage when I walked in. It’s a mixed of overnight garbage smell plus dirty sweat and foam smell. Outside every room was fully piled up with uncleared trash. When I opened my wardrobe, lots of cockroaches crawl out from inside and the bedsheets that are being distributed to every new workers are full of dirts and ashes.

The contract:

The contract has highly emphasized on 4 confidential areas that need to be kept strictly confidential, 1: All technical information, 2: Sales figures, 3: Human resource, 4: Production statistics. The contract didn’t mention much on the overtime works. Under the section of “Possible harmful effects that may cause to worker during production”, the management has asked us to tick “No” for all of them. This includes “Noise pollution” and “Toxic Pollution”, I was wondering if the production floor will caused any harmful effects while working.

The iPhone 5:

When I walked into the production floor after passing through the metal detector door, I heard loud sounds of machinery engines and a very dense of plastic smell. Our supervisor warned us: “Once you sit down, you only do what you are told”. The supervisor finally present us the back of the iPhone 5 and shows it to all of us and said: “This is the new unleashed iPhone 5 back plate, you should be honored having the chance to produce it.”

The work schedule:

By my own calculations, I have to mark five iPhone plates every minute, at least. For every 10 hours, I have to accomplish 3,000 iPhone 5 back plates. There are total 4 production lines in charge of this process, 12 workers in every line. Each line can produce 36,000 iPhone 5 back plates in half a day, this is scary … I finally stopped working at 7 a.m.

As The Next Web notes, it’s unlikely that the decision to publish the story just before the launch of the iPhone was accidental.

The report joins a pile of damning evidence against Foxconn, somewhat mitigating Apple’s claims that it was trying to fix conditions in the factories. It was also recently revealed that the company had been forcibly recruiting students on two month ‘internships’ in a bid to reduce labour shortages.

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