Workers at the Pegatron iPhone factory in China make an average of $650 to $850 a month, Bloomberg recently reported. That means some of them make just enough to purchase an iPhone 6S — if they spend an entire month’s salary on the device. The smartphone is Apple’s top-of-the-line offering. Its base price in China, before memory upgrades, is 5,288 yuan, or $807.95 based on the current conversion rate. The device retails for $649 in the United States.
Apple’s iPhone is an expensive device, and no one is entitled to one. Many Americans would struggle to justify the cost all at once — that’s one reason why Apple offers an installment plan. Android phones, which come in a number of budget-friendly varieties, are also somewhat more popular than iPhones in the United States.
To be fair and draw another comparison, Tesla Factory workers probably don’t drive Teslas.
But it’s still worth considering the inequality here. Americans aren’t the ones working to assemble iPhones. Bloomberg’s article quotes an advocacy group that alleges the Chinese factory’s base pay is so low that many workers need to work overtime to make ends meet, though Pegatron and Apple have reportedly developed systems to discourage excessive work. (It’s worth noting that Pegatron also contains safety nets in the stairways “to prevent accidents—or suicide attempts,” according to Bloomberg.) Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment from The Huffington Post about labor at the factory.
It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, but American families made an average of $53,657 last year, or a bit more than $4,471 a month. It’s considerably more than the Chinese workers, even if you assumed a dual-income household and split that number in half.
The takeaway? Your iPhone is an incredibly complicated device, and not just in terms of its mechanical innards. It all begins with a supply chain that, for many electronics companies, includes materials secured with child labor. And assembling the device requires workers who couldn’t realistically buy the thing. And then it’s shipped to you.
How Apple Profits from A System That Abuses Children — And Why It’s So Hard to Stop.
A new report from Amnesty International suggests that companies including Apple, Samsung and Sony are profiting from child labor in Africa — and no one should be surprised.
It’s been public knowledge for years that electronics are stuffed with minerals that come from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a war-torn place rich in must-have materials that are rarely found elsewhere. Less well-known, however, is how these sometimes blood-soaked metals move from the DRC into the supply chains of some of the world’s richest and most powerful tech companies. While these companies carry considerable influence and are aware of the controversy surrounding their supply chains, a number of complicating factors make it difficult — if not impossible — for them to solve the problem of child labor.
Amnesty says its report, published Monday, is the “first comprehensive account” of how cobalt ore found by children enters the global supply chain. The group focused on cobalt specifically for two reasons: One, it’s a key component of the lithium-ion rechargeable batteries used in phones. Two, the material stands apart from other “conflict minerals” you may have heard of because it doesn’t contribute to armed groups in the country the same way other materials do, and as a result receives less scrutiny.
“If you’re a corporate executive with these minerals in your products, there is no excuse for turning a blind eye to child labor in your supply chains,” Holly Dranginis, senior policy analyst at the Enough Project, told HuffPost.
The situation isn’t simple. But perhaps greater efforts from those in positions of power could make a difference.
“We need systemic change, and real accountability,” Dranginis told Huffpost, “and that will take policy and behavior change from a range of actors: end-user companies, smelters, traders, and of course government officials in the DRC and surrounding region.”
Read Article (Damon Beres | huffingtonpost.com | 05/19/2016)
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