SHANGHAI — They just don’t make them like they used to. At least not according to disappointed workers at Pegatron, the Taiwanese tech giant that is reportedly prepping Apple’s new line of cheaper, plastic iPhones in China.
An undercover investigation by New York-based China Labor Watch (CLW) yielded over 80 labor rights violations at three of Pegatron’s facilities. In addition to excessive working hours, insufficient wages, women’s rights violations, and poor living conditions, the report indicates that some employees have been forced to construct lower-quality plastic iPhones that they call “more than a little embarrassing.”
The report quoted an anonymous worker’s chagrin over his latest task at Pegatron’s Shanghai factory. “Today’s work is to paste protective film on the iPhone’s plastic back cover to prevent it from being scratched on assembly lines. I’d rather paste shit to the back of a Blackberry than let Apple do this to its product.” The new model is expected to carry the name iPhone 5C for the multitude of colors that will be made available, but workers complain that the C stands for “cheap.”
“At first I thought my supervisor was joking,” said the anonymous worker. “We all laughed. A plastic iPhone? I’ve been working at this factory for 70 hours a week since 2007, and I have never heard something as stupid as this.”
“At this rate, even I will be able to afford an iPhone,” complained another worker who wished to remain anonymous. “If I’m going to work until my fingers bleed, it should be for something that makes my family proud.”
Workers on Pegatron’s Apple assembly lines make an average of $1.50 an hour, which Apple says can really add up over a workweek that averages 67 hours.
“Apple is committed to providing safe and fair working conditions throughout our supply chain,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement responding to the investigation, arguing that reports of labor violations have been sensationalized. “Besides, the only reason anybody pays attention to these ‘labor investigations’ is to get a sneak peak at our latest triumph in innovation.”
Investigators at China Labor Watch admitted they were disappointed when their latest report was interpreted by the media as a leak of exciting new Apple products, rather than an indictment of Apple and its suppliers.
Cook said that those who criticize the company’s labor practices don’t take into account the privilege of working with such fine products before they’re released to consumers. “These people get about $15 a day to be the first to experience new Apple technology. Name me one person you know who wouldn’t love that.”
Cook added that the real concern should be the size of the lines at Apple’s retail stores and the paucity of artisanal spreads in the cafeteria at Apple’s Cupertino headquarters.