Apple is preparing to release a cheap iPhone. Just how does a prosperous company like Apple produce a discounted version of its phones? At this moment, in Shanghai, China, workers in Apple’s supplier factory Pegatron are monotonously working long overtime hours to turn out a scaled-back, less expensive version of the iPhone. Six days a week, the workers making these phones have to work almost 11-hour shifts, 20 minutes of which is unpaid, and the remainder of which is paid at a rate of $1.50 an hour ($268 per month) before overtime. This is less than half the average local monthly income of $764 and far below the basic living wage necessary to live in Shanghai, one of costliest cities in China. So these workers rely on long overtime hours. If a worker does not finish three months at Pegatron, the dispatch company that got the worker hired will deduct a large portion of his wages. After a grueling day’s work, what a worker has to look forward to is a 12-person dorm room, lining up for a quick cold shower in one of the two dozen showers shared by hundreds of workers. At Pegatron, over 10,000 underage and student workers (interns), from 16 to 20 years of age, work in crowded production rooms, doing the same work as formal, adult workers. But some students are paid lower wages because schools deduct fees for the internship, while other students will not have their wages paid to them on time. At Pegatron, a pregnant woman interviewed was working equally long overtime hours, despite Chinese laws protecting the health of pregnant women by mandating an eight-hour workday. After four months of intense work, she decided to leave and give up her maternity benefits rather than jeopardize the health and well-being of herself and her unborn child. In addition, Pegatron has violations related to discriminatory hiring, harassment and abuse, fire safety, and more. So what is the competitive advantage that Pegatron has utilized to win Apple’s order of the cheap iPhone? Extensive labor violations and suppressed wages that cheat workers of a living wage, a healthy working environment, and a voice. As Apple launches its cheaper iPhones, it continues to profit while cheapening the value of the workers in its supply chain.


Via AMRC Hong Kong