Daisey traveled to the Foxconn plant in Shenzhen, China, which employs 420,000 people to manufacture products for Apple and other electronics and computer companies, to talk with the workers.
Daisey’s mission was risky—a photographer was recently beaten up by the company’s guards—but he was determined, having heard about abuses at Foxconn.
There, thirty-four-hour shifts, beatings, child labor, an epidemic of suicides and a general prison-camp atmosphere prevailed, and even yawning could get your (meager) pay docked. He met one worker whose hand had been “permanently curled into a claw from being smashed in a metal press at Foxconn, where he worked assembling Apple laptops and iPads.”
Faced with a public relations problem relating to the suicides, the company installed wire mesh on the factory windows to stop workers from jumping out to kill themselves.
Daisey is right when he insists that Steve Jobs was the one man in the world uniquely positioned to change this. Apple’s profit margins are immense. The stock could have continued to soar even if the pay and conditions of these workers’ lives were built into the cost of an iPhone or an iPad. People would have kept buying the products, and other companies would have been forced to follow suit.
But Jobs didn’t care. He even instructed Obama that the United States had to behave more like China in the manner in which it encouraged corporations to act free of regulations or concern for their employees and their environment.