Posts tagged ‘Apple’

October 24, 2011

An alternative eulogy for Steve Jobs


Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase

From the Epoch Times:


Unsavory Practices at Home and Abroad

Like the forbidden fruit of Adam and Eve, Apple’s troubles begin in the ground.

In recent years, activist campaigns like the “Enough” project have highlighted the role so-called “blood minerals” have played in prolonging the war in the Congo, which has left more than 5 million people dead since 1998. With its rich deposits of tin, tungsten, coltan, and gold—essential components for circuit boards and other electronic apparatuses—the eastern Congo is a hotspot for tech suppliers from all over the world.

Enriched by hundreds of millions of dollars from foreign technology companies, armed groups in the region exploit Congolese civilians by using them as forced labor in often-dangerous mineral mines. As various factions fight for control of these mines and the trade routes connecting them to markets, the civilian populations caught in the crossfire are routinely brutalized.

Prompted by the bad press over its “genocide phones,” Apple announced last April that it would attempt to purge conflict minerals from its African supply chain. However, in accordance with a congressional proscription on conflict minerals that took effect that same month, Apple’s compliance is likely to be largely voluntary and thus not subject to independent audits. In any case, companies like Apple and Hewlett Packard have already fueled the conflict for more than a decade.

Apple has drawn further criticism for abuses in its manufacturing process, particularly at the Shenzhen, China complex of Foxconn, a Taiwanese manufacturing behemoth that has assembled electronics for virtually every major tech company in the world.

Disguising himself as an American investor, journalist-playwright Mike Daisey visited the Foxconn complex and documented dozens of reports of abusive labor practices, including the widespread use of child labor, the intimidation of employees seeking redress for workplace injuries, and more generally an oppressive combination of lengthy shifts, constant surveillance, and authoritarian management.

The Foxconn Daisey described was essentially a private-sector partner to the Chinese government’s program of oppression: it kept would-be activists busy, monitored, and under control.

Apple fervently disputed Daisey’s allegations, but there’s no disputing the disturbing spate of worker suicides that preceded his visit. In the months prior to Daisey’s visit—a peak production period when Apple was gearing up to release the iPhone 4—at least 18 Foxconn workers attempted suicide, 14 of them successfully. […]

Peter Certo is an editorial assistant with the Institute for Policy Studies. Courtesy Foreign Policy in Focus ( ).

October 23, 2010

Chart of the week: how much of the cost of an iPhone goes to Apple?

iPhone: Assembled in China, Designed in U.S.

From the Wall Street Journal, via Modernity. For more information, see here.

October 22, 2010


Mobile phone scrap, old decomissioned mobile p...

Image via Wikipedia

In this blog, we have been closely following aspects of China’s political economy, not least as part of our interest in the rising powers and the new global power cartography. In particular, we have followed the labour unrest in China, as part of the wave of labour unrest in the most rapidly industrialising nations. We have spotlights Foxconn as one of the worst offenders.

A recent post on the British blog Modernity has comprehensive coverage of Foxconn, including its activities in India.

Capitalism depends on the manufacture of goods at comparatively low prices, but often sold at a premium.

For evidence of that we need look no further than the modern Western accoutrement, the mobile phone.

This has been brought into focus by the activities of Foxconn, whose naked exploitation of its workers has led to many suicides and growing concerns over its activities.

Foxconn is effectively a subcontractor to Western companies, Apple, Nokia, etc. They put together electronic goods and mobile phones that are so ubiquitous in the West.

But that labour comes at a cost, small cost for Foxconn and a large one for its workers as the strike in India shows.


May 28, 2010

Global news and analysis

In this issue, worker suicide in China, wildcat strikes in Vietnam, the new new poor, the old anti-capitalism, vampire squids, the finance lobby, why Greece matters, and a world of artificial scarcity.

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