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Apple sweat-shop claims disputed

What the Dickens?
Wed Jun 14 2006, 09:05
CLAIMS THAT Apple is running Nike-like sweat shops to make its iPods, have been disputed by people who claim to be in the know.

The Mail on Sunday reported that Apple's contractors in China, Foxconn made the super soar-away iPods in a city of 200,000 workers in the Longhua plant that were paid a miserable $50 a month.

The story claimed that people live in plant dormitories housing 100 people, and outside visitors are forbidden. One plant is staffed by women and another is secured by Chinese coppers.

But the image of a Dickensian world being encouraged by Jobs' mob has been disputed by the IT press.

Wired quotes a number of IT experts, none of whom have visited the plants mentioned by the Mail on Sunday, as saying conditions must be great there.

Nicholas Lardy, a senior fellow at the pro-globalisation International Institute for Economics, said Hon Hai, which has 100,000 workers, has an "excellent reputation."

Plants run by big global companies like Hon Hai are very different from smaller, Chinese outfits. International giants usually enforce the same work practices in China as they do in other parts of Asia, or Europe and United States, according to Lardy.

However Lardy admitted he had no specific knowledge of Hon Hai's facilities, but plants he's visited in China run by its competitors were so nice they could be located in the United States or Europe.

Other people quoted by Wired say that while Chinese IT factories might look the business, they fall short when it comes to worker treatment.

Apple is has made no statement about the claims.

Accusations that its products were being made in sweat shops did Nike a lot of damage. The image of Steve Jobs as a Dickensian sweat shop boss is something folk do not want to talk about much, in case it catches on and punters start thinking of him as the owner of a computer company rather than a lifestyle guru. µ

Welcome to iPod city


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