iPod sweatshops alleged

The UK's Mail on Sunday reported that Apple's iPods are made in China by mainly female workers who earn as little as 27 pounds per month. The report set off a tidal wave of objection and claims that iPods are made in sweatshops.

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The UK's Mail on Sunday reported that Apple's iPods are made in China by mainly female workers who earn as little as 27 pounds per month. The report set off a tidal wave of objection and claims that iPods are made in sweatshops. According to Macworld UK:

The Mail visited some of these factories and spoke with staff there. It reports that Foxconn's Longhua plant houses 200,000 workers, remarking: "This iPod City has a population bigger than Newcastle's."

The report claims Longhua's workers live in dormitories that house 100 people, and that visitors from the outside world are not permitted. Workers toil for 15-hours a day to make the iconic music player, the report claims. They earn 27 pounds (US$50) per month. The report reveals that the iPod nano is made in a five-story factory (E3) that is secured by police officers.
According to iLounge Apple responded Tuesday by saying that they take the allegations seriously and that they are looking into them:
"Apple is committed to ensuring that working conditions in our supply chain are safe, workers are treated with respect and dignity, and manufacturing processes are environmentally responsible," adding that  they are "currently investigating the allegations regarding working conditions in the iPod manufacturing plant in China. We do not tolerate any violations of our supplier code of conduct which are posted online."
According to Apple's supplier code of conduct:
Apple is committed to ensuring that working conditions in our supply chain are safe, workers are treated with respect and dignity, and manufacturing processes are environmentally responsible.

Is anyone really surprised about this? Apple is in business to make a profit for its shareholders and they're obligated to maximize that profit. If China offers the cheapest labor pool then Apple will seek it out. On the other hand, should a large corporation that "recognizes its responsibility as a global citizen" exploit the labor of another country in their quest for the almighty buck? Heady issues indeed.

If you think Apple's any different than any other billion-dollar corporation - think again. I'd also recommend watching the movie "The Corporation" if you think that a company's objective is anything other than making the most money it can for its shareholders.

Where do you stand on the sweatshop flap?

UPDATE 2006-0515 11:45am ET:

AppleInsider has posted a pair of photos that were published earlier this week by the UK's Mail on Sunday that allegedly portray the work environment at Foxconn's "iPod City" in China.

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