Sunday, 12 September 2010

Reasons why eBooks are Rubbish: #2

They Might not be all that Ethical

I'm probably the last person in the entire publishing world to hear about this, but Apple iPads aren't made all that ethically. The company (along with others) has it's £750 device manufactured in the Foxconn factory by workers, mostly women, who are paid as little as £27 a month.

This has been going on for some time: the report linked to ahead is dated June 2004. The Mail carried out a special (and unusually socially conscious investigation) back then into Foxconn's Longhua plant, then manufacturing Apple music players, and after completing the process, their report claimed the following:
  •  Longhua's workers live in dormitories that house 100 people, and that visitors from the outside world are not permitted.
  • Workers put in 15-hour days when making Apple products.
It finished by concluding that Apple is just one of thousands of companies that now use Chinese facilities to manufacture its products, the report observes. Low wages, long hours and China's industrial secrecy make the country attractive to business, particularly as increased competition and consumer expectations force companies to deliver products at attractive prices.

Apple then issued a statement claiming that it was dealing with the information the report had found, and that it valued working standards and conditions highly. I'm dubious to count journalistic findings from the Mail as gospel, so this would have perhaps shut me up if ten workers at the plant hadn't then gone on to commit suicide within a year of each other, with three more attempting to. Clearly Apple hadn't taken much notice of the report filed six years earlier by the Mail. Workers were still reporting long working hours, intense pressure, low salaries, military discipline and abuse by supervisors.

After the tenth suicide, all workers at the factory were offered a 30% payrise and were asked to sign a no suicide pledge.

Reader users shouldn't sleep easy either - Sony uses the same company to manufacture their products. Amazon are idiosyncratically quiet about where they manufacture their Kindles, but the extreme likelihood is that they're made in China - a country known to be lax to say the least about human rights, working conditions and communication with the rest of the world.


Raven Corinn Carluk said...

More than just ereaders use these kind of factories. At what point do we stop wanting a low price because we want the workers to get more? All those nice cheap products we in the consumer countries love come at someone else's expense.

Hank Brown said...

A Yankee perspective:

I challenge you to find ANYTHING that's not made in Workers' Paradise anymore. With anything electronic, it's just about impossible. Tarrifs are the only tax that Congress doesn't like (while American exports...what few are left...get slapped with 30% or more); judging by Washington's "green" legislation, the environment is only harmed if Americans are employed in production; and, of course, Red China has the largest pool of expendable slave labor in history.

Human nature being what it is, this situation will only get worse.

What Book Today said...

This is awesome. I can't stand eBooks for different reasons (I even cling to the printed newspaper), but you bring up such good points about what's going on as to the manufacture.

Enjoying your blog!

ComaCalm said...

I like eBooks for a very good reason - Galleys (advance reading copies of books). I'm from the UK where physical ARC's are none-existent so I rely on Galleys. I read off of my laptop though.

If I like a Galley, I pre-order the physical copy from Amazon. Nothing beats a real book!

Now following:

IrishHousewife said...

I like Ebooks simply for the convenience of having so many books in your pocket at any time but I am a paperback girl at heart. Having said this, I do find it appalling that Apple or any other Ereader would allow this to happen while their products are being manufactured. Everyday something reminds me that working in America is a thing to feel blessed about.

Bibliomania said...

I love your blog! I am now following you. I read about this in a global citizenship class I took last semester. It's important to understand and difficult to hear that our creature comforts are made at the expense of other people.

Feel free to check out my blog as I attempt to read as many books as possibly during 2012!

Tome Keeper said...

I'm sorry but I don't think what you've said is an argument against e-books. Laptops are made in the same factories - should we all give up the net? Popular books are manufactured in factories that probably have just as poor conditions for workers. Of course we should consider the conditions in these factories.

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