We all use technology every day, from iPad’s, to iPods, and from Smartphones, to Laptops. We usually take technology for granted. Electronics are not cheap, but we go out, pay our money and then gorge ourselves in the digital worlds that they provide. But how many of us actually think about where these tech toys have come from, and how many of us actually wonder about the true cost of technology?
Like many products in the world, most electronics come from Asia, mainly China. Companies like Apple source many components that go into their iDevices from factories in China. A large electronics company called Foxconn is in fact the largest supplier of parts to Apple and many other tech companies around the world.
Last year there were some truly shocking stories coming from workers in one of the many Foxconn factories which supplies parts to Apple. So poor were the working conditions, and so low was the pay, employees were choosing to take their own lives because they had become so depressed with life in the factories.
Foxconn of course launched an investigation into this. They really had no choice because the workers went on strike, which meant production and income had stopped. Foxconn stated that the suicides had nothing to do with working conditions and general treatment that the employees received, but rather the suicides were because of individual personal problems. However Foxconn quickly rectified the issues. They increased pay rates, reduced working hours, and improved safety and general working conditions inside the factories. Recently though the electronics giant was rocked with a new setback.
Hong Kong China News reports that a huge explosion rocked the brand new Foxconn plant which is located in Chengdu, China. This plant was built specifically for the production of parts for Apple. The explosion, which happened on May 20th unfortunately killed 3 employees, and quickly safety standards came under the spotlight again. Following the explosion, another employee sadly took their own life, which brought the total count of Foxconn workers who have taken their own lives to 14 since 2010.
China Labor, a labor group who fights for workers’ rights, says Foxconn is still running factories with ‘sweat shop’ conditions, and that not much has changed since it implemented its changes last year. I do not know if this is true or not, but one thing that cannot be denied is that people are dying so that we can live in our digital worlds.
As you sit and read this article on your new laptop, smartphone, or tablet, take a minute to think about how your new tech toy came to be, and just how much it really costs.
tuaw, Foxconn Chengdu plant fire, by Michael Rose