This is David Barboza reporting from Chengdu in Western China. The massive factory here belongs to the Foxconn technology group. It employs 120,000 workers and operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week making products like the Apple iPhone and iPad. The plant attracts young migrant workers who travel here mostly from poor rural parts of the country eager to find well-paying, high-tech jobs.
But the reality is often something quite different. Because of heavy production demands, many here work six days a week, ten hours a day on fast moving production lines, assembling electronics for some of the world’s leading brands.
Few workers stay very long, the high employee turnover rate at Foxconn suggests that young migrants are becoming increasingly reluctant to work in environments like this.
Last year an explosion in the iPad polishing area killed four people and injured 18 others. The blast occurred on Friday evening at a workshop in Hong Fujin Precision electronics company a subsidiary of the Taiwan based Foxconn Technology Group.
It was later determined that the cause was highly combustible aluminum dust. Advocacy groups have said that the conditions are unsafe at the plant. Foxconn officials would not comment for this story and workers were told not to talk to the New York Times. Gan Lunqun agreed to be interviewed only because she had just quit her job.
GL: You don’t know if the sky is bright or dark. You have no idea if it’s even rainy or sunny. Ms. Gan said she quit because of the crowded environment, long hours and low pay.
GL: We have an hour long lunch break. In our department we need to pass through two security gates. We’ve go too many people. When you get out you need to wait in line at the first security gate and then repeat it at the second. Once you get out to the cafeteria to eat there’s another long line.
One other worker agreed to speak with us but only if we concealed his identity. Well, my current job, I feel a lot of pressure. The upper bosses push you to get your job done or to achieve some difficult goal. Sometimes I’m a bit depressed.
The typical assembly worker at Foxconn makes about a dollar an hour. This employee makes much more, $550 a month. But he too is considering quitting because he can’t deal with the pace and pressures of the factory.