back to article Now even MORE 'interns' make iPhones - Chinese labour watchdog

The number of students forced to "intern" on iPhone assembly lines has increased, says a new report from a China-based labour rights watchdog. The report 'Apple Fails in its Responsibility to Monitor Suppliers', published on 26 February by Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) also says that Apple …


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  1. jake Silver badge


    What kind of idiot pays a premium for hardware built by slave labor in the first place? I mean, seriously, iFad users, have you noticed Apple's "value"? Do you know where that came from? It came from *your* money paying Apple, and Apple in turn not passing an equitable portion to the folks in the trenches doing the grunt work.

    1. Mick Sheppard

      Re: Whatever.

      What kind of idiot buys burgers containing horsemeat?

      What kind of idiot buys clothes made in far eastern sweatshops?

      What kind of idiot buys footballs made by child labour?

      The answer to this is pretty much everyone in the west. Our standard of living comes about because we are standing on the shoulders of those providing the goods that make it possible. It's what makes this sort of story, and your comment on it, laughable. Apple are, apparently, at least trying to do the right thing to improve conditions. It's everyone else that you don't hear about. Do you really think that they are better?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Whatever.

        "What kind of idiot buys burgers containing horsemeat?"

        Either idiots, or people who enjoy horsemeat would be my guess.

        "What kind of idiot buys clothes made in far eastern sweatshops?"

        Idiots who purchase this month's fad, and don't care about longevity.

        "What kind of idiot buys footballs made by child labour?"

        Idiots who don't care about longevity of their gear.

        "The answer to this is pretty much everyone in the west."

        Idiots, yes. People with clues, not so much. I weep for so-called civilization.

    2. Babbit55

      Re: Whatever.

      So witch vendor do you use, and please tell me who made that phone/pc/tablet?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Whatever.

        "So witch vendor do you use"

        One that doesn't try to use magic incantations to sell me product.

        1. Babbit55

          Re: Whatever.

          they may not use magic incantations and rounded corners to entice you, though I am sure it was likely built by Foxconn!

          1. jake Silver badge

            @Babbit55 10:28 (was: Re: Whatever.)


  2. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    "... students are often required to complete a spell fitting iPhone parts on low pay as a compulsory part of passing their degree."

    And that differs from working in McDonalds selling McNo-Horse burgers for several hours a day to pay you way through university how?

    Is the answer: the working conditions are better in China and the education is better and cheaper and no chinese student is still paying off their tuition fees twenty years after leaving university?

    1. Ian Bremner

      Because :

      a) MacDonalds will generally be paying you a 'fair' wage for your work.

      b) Your are not REQUIRED to work at MacDonalds to pass your degree.

      1. AceRimmer
  3. Great Bu

    Lessons for us to learn...

    I think a 3 month stint working in a sweat shop factory would be of great benefit for most of our degree candidates - as an employer at least you would know that they had gained 3 months of worthwhile experience during their 3 year BA course.....

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Lessons for us to learn...

      Because nothing says "modern dynamic high skilled country ready to lead europe" like forcing geology graduates to stack shelves for free in Poundland to keep their dole - and then have a government minister go on TV to say that shelve stacking is vital to the UK economy.

      1. Great Bu

        Re: Lessons for us to learn...

        Universities teach Geology as a BA now ?

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Lessons for us to learn...

          "Real" universities only give a BA, or MA

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But why *just* Apple?

    I am intrigued by this singular focus, though.

    Apple seems to be one of the companies that is now actually taking the issue seriously. I'm happy to accept that that may be more because of the damage to their image rather than genuine concern, but at least something is happening. However, but as a result of being accessible about it they seem to get all the flack which to me seems to be more a warning against doing this for other companies than an encouragement.

    What about all the other suppliers? I do not believe for one second they have clean hands, it's just that the focus on Apple leaves them free to do whatever they want.

  5. Chris007

    So when Applie do respond to El Reg it's to do this.

    "The Apple spokesperson also sent The Register a link to an article about Samsung's supply chain and complaints about child workers in French paper Le Parisien. Deflecting much?"


    (and no it isn't a typo in the title...)

    1. Internet ToughGuy

      Re: So when Applie do respond to El Reg it's to do this.

      Yep, remember the faulty antennae in iphone 4? First they said it didn't happen. then they said it did happen but you're holding it wrong. Then Jobs hosted a press conference where he tried to say that it's ok for them to have phones that drop calls, because he found ways you could hold competitors phones that made them under-perform as well. (

      I'm not saying that other companies don't have to be held accountable, but Apple are responsible for what Apple do, and when they are caught having children contracted to build their equipment, the only acceptable response it to ensure that it stops. Saying that other people employ children does not make it right, and trying to smear their competitor is just a cheap dig to avert their responsibility. If it's already in a newspaper, then it would appear that the competitor is already being investigated by the media. It's not for Apple to lead the charge, especially while their own hands are still dirty.

  6. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    The thing is

    Apple could build all of their iPod/pads/touch/rounded corners in the USA and it would mean the device would cost an extra $25 or so

    No slave labour, no school kids doing for free, ok they might employ people on min wage, but are they that sure the extra $25 would drive everyone into the arms of Samsung when they could trade on "Made in the USA" to their hearts content....

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: The thing is

      It's not the extra $25 on the assembly wages - it's where are the components and subassemblies?

      Of course you could have an assembly line where every piece is supplied by a sub-contractor in another state/country on the end of a 6month delivery schedule - ask Boeing how that worked out.

      The problem the UK and US have is the lack of manufacturing infrastructure

    2. Theodrake

      Re: The thing is

      I really doubt Apple could do it for $25/device. Apple products sell at premium prices and could afford to add $25. Paying an American worker $80/day plus benefits is around $1,600/month salary. Last year one city in China raised minimum rate to about $230/month. Workers in China work 12 hour days, lets just assume 6 days a week. In the US in all states you 1.5x base hourly rate after 8 hours/day or 40 hours/week. That drives the cost of an American worker to $3,360/month. I can't see how increasing workers salary over 10x only translates into $25.

      Its estimated that Apple uses 400,000 workers in China (from a company that employees 900,000). Simply put in the most optimisitc estimate this would cost Apple over $2 billion dollars in added costs to employ over 400,000 workers in the US and that is if they only pay them minimum wage and offer no benefits.

  7. Philip Lewis
    IT Angle

    The question nobody asks

    Aside from smartphones, where Apple has a substantial (though sub 30% IIRC) market share, Apple's PC/Laptop market share is single digit.

    Where are the othe 70+% or smartphones and 90%+ PCs/Laptops being made?

    Why is it we only hear about the big Bad Apple, when other companies produce massively larger numbers of devices and must have similar issues?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The question nobody asks

      I did ask - see above :).

      Oh, you meant the journalists aren't asking? Well, yes, we've seen that before. It is worth noting that the organisation reporting all those Apple issues is Chinese (OK, Hong Kong, so technically a SAR), and has indeed nobody else on the radar as far as I can tell from their website.

      As they are local they *should* have enough access to identify others, so the omission is disappointing and creates very interesting questions..

      1. chris lively

        Re: The question nobody asks

        I'm not sure the questions are all that interesting. It's pretty simple really. Company contracts Chinese suppliers for a pittance. Company goes on to make billions. Chinese realize they need to renegotitate, because they got screwed. Easiest way to do that is to show that they need to pay workers more. Company still doesn't negotiate. Chinese embarrass the ever living hell out of them to force the issue.

        As usual, if you want to know why one instead of another, take a look at who has the most to gain. Apple trying to deflect onto Samsung is simply the by product of some marketing managers not having a clue on how to deal with international issues.

    2. Curtis

      Re: The question nobody asks

      Possibly because Apple charges a premium price and have all the way back to the Power PC days (when said premium was justified because of processor costs.

      You buy cheap, you expect this stuff, you pay more, you expect more. Plus, in the US, there's an uproar over ther "rich" taking advantage of the "poor"

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