Closing the Loop: iPhones in Production and Consumption

On Friday, September 20, the new iPhone models 5S and 5C were presented for sale at Apple stores around the world. An onslaught of media coverage of customers waiting on line for and purchasing the new devices ensued. Yet, we have still seen very little coverage of the report published by China Labor Watch on July 29 that documented rampant abuse of laborers and violation of Chinese labor law at Pegatron Shanghai, where these new iPhones are produced. The photo pairings that follow–each composed of a photo from media coverage of Friday’s iPhone launch and a photo from the China Labor Watch report–are meant to close the loop between production and consumption. The information included with each pairing is taken from the photo captions provided by the Los Angeles Times, and from the China Labor Watch report titled “Apple’s unkept promises: cheap iPhones come at high cost to Chinese workers.” They are presented without editorial comment for your thoughtful consideration.

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Left: Young consumers in line for the new iPhones outside the Apple store in San Francisco (Chris O’Brien, Los Angeles Times). Right: Workers at Pegatron Shanghai wait in line for an expensive, poor tasting, and rushed lunch that they must buy because they are not allowed to leave the factory during their shift (CLW 2013).
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Left: A customer waits in the line at the Apple store at the Grove shopping center in Los Angeles (Andrea Chang, Los Angeles Times). Right: Exhausted workers sleep during the lunch break at Pegatron Shanghai, where the new iPhones are produced (CLW 2013).
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Left: The line outside the Apple store at the luxurious Grove shipping center in LA forms Thursday evening (Andrea Chang, Los Angeles Times). Right: Workers, some as young as 16, leave Pegatron Shangai after a typical 12 hour work day.
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Left: An entrepreneurial man attempts to capitalize on his premier placement in the line outside the Apple store at the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, CA on Thursday evening (Andrea Chang, Los Angeles Times). Right: Young Chinese, many who have left their families in rural communities, wait to begin work at Pegatron Shanghai. They are hired by dispatch labor companies, not Pegatron, so are not provided with insurance and housing as stipulated by Chinese labor law. They will have a significant portion of their wages claimed by the dispatch company if they do not work at least 3 months at the factory (CLW 2013).
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Left: Employees cheer on and high-five an incoming customer at an Apple store in Beijing (Andy Wong, Associated Press). Right: Young workers leave Pegatron Shanghai after a 12 hour work day on iPhone assembly lines (CLW 2013).
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Left: Customers look at new iPhones in the Apple store in Pasadena, CA (Gary Friedman, Los Angeles Times). Right: A 17 year old iPhone assembly worker at Pegatron Shanghai received his wages 5 days after the schedule pay day: a common problem for workers at this factory site (CLW 2013).
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Left: President & CEO of NTT DoCoMo, Inc., Kauru Kato, poses with the first customer to receive the new iPhone at one of the company’s stores in Tokyo, Japan (Kiyoshi Ota, Bloomberg). Right: A paystub for a Pegatron Shanghai employee reveals that workers earn between $341 and $487 per month at the base pay rate of $1.50 per hour, and most work between 60-66 hours per week due to forced overtime far in excess of Chinese labor law (CLW 2013).
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Left: A man is arrested outside the Apple store in Pasadena, CA, new iPhone in hand, after he failed to pay several homeless men he hired to wait in line for him (Gary Friedman, Los Angeles Times). Right: Workers have their bags searched by guards as they leave a 12 hour shift on the iPhone production lines at Pegatron Shanghai (CLW 2013).
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Left: The first customer to purchase the new iPhone at the Apple store in Beijing (Andy Wong, Los Angeles Times). Right: A cramped 20 square meter worker dormitory at Pegatron Shanghai, where as many as 12 people struggle to get enough sleep between 12 hour work days (CLW 2013).
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4 thoughts on “Closing the Loop: iPhones in Production and Consumption”

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  2. I just read “Apple’s Top Crimes of 2013” at counterpunch …

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/01/01/apples-top-crimes-of-2013/

    … and was very happy to see it ! Now I’m happy to know about your blog as well. I’d have written you an email, but you use gmail and I have no interest in having all my correspondence in their coffer, all commodified and analysed and ready for delivery to the nsa.

    And it’s apple’s cooperation with the nsa that I wanted to remind you of .. I’ll read ‘top-crimes’ again, but i didn’t see full betrayal of their ‘customers’ and full cooperation with the totalitarian usg on your list …

    http://www.robinlea.com/wordpress/2014/01/01/the-nsa-an-unspeakably-evil-organization/

    … well I suppose it’s a quid pro quo for all the ‘ip protection’ … and it is a protection racket … from the US DoJ …

    Keep up the good work … I’ve bookmarked your blog and will now read all the stuff you have assembled here. Apple is a marketing shell. The ‘future’ … there is none … for American ‘industry’.

    Thanks again for the ‘the crimes’ … and this blog, now that I’ve found it.

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