Apple has finally released the iPhone, suppressing hungry media, who were feeding on every bit of ‘iPhone 5’ news available. When all media went after the leaked speculations, a Chinese news agency, Shanghai Evening Post, had something else in mind. They secretly slipped in an experienced journalist to Apple’s infamous Supply Chain Factory Foxconn, disguised as a worker, to know about the real craftsmanship behind one of world’s most desirable gadgets.
But unfortunately, the journalist was only able to stay 10 days inside the factory due to undesirable and hectic working conditions. After leaving Foxconn, he had published his diary notes, which narrated the working experience and conditions, where employees were pushed like slaves to meet the impending demand for millions of iPhones. The notes, which came in MIC gadget, contained shocking revelations like even some schools in the area was closed to meet the demand for workers occurred due to the new iPhone launch.
Here is the shocking story behind how an iPhone is actually made
DAY 1: Recruitment – “Good Health With Citizen Identity Card”
For slipping into Apple’s Foxconn factory, the journalist has contacted the Human Resource Department that handles the recruitment and he was told that he can work in Foxconn as long as he is healthy and own a citizenship identity card. Once at the interview, he was asked to fill in a form to test current state of mentality. There were about 30 mentality questions to answer “Yes” or “No,” which even included questions like: “Have you got into a state of mental trance recently!?” After the test, he was taken to the Taiyuan Foxconn factory along with some other workers.
According to the journalist, the condition inside Foxconn’s dormitory was awful. “The first night sleeping at dormitory is a nightmare. The whole dormitory smells like garbage when I walked in. It’s a mixed of overnight garbage smell plus dirty sweat and foam smell. Outside of rooms were fully piled up with trash. Cockroaches were crawling through all the places and the bed sheets that are being distributed to new workers were full of dirt and ashes.”
DAY 2: Signing Contract – “No Environmental Harm?”
The second day began with signing the contract were the journalist, along with other new workers were asked to sign the employment contract. According to MIC, the contract highly emphasized on 4 confidential areas that need to be kept strictly confidential, 1: All technical information, 2: Sales figures, 3: Human resource, 4: Production statistics. The contract didn’t mention much on the overtime works. Under the section of “Possible harmful effects that may cause to worker during production”, the management has asked them to tick “No” for all of them, which included “Noise pollution” and “Toxic Pollution.”
DAYS 3 to 6: Training Session – “All You Need To Do Is OBEY”
The day after signing of the contract, employees were briefed with the history of Foxconn company, policies and safety measures. The entire conference emphasized on one point: “When you leave the lab, there’s no advanced technology, you only need to obey instructions.” The journalist was given a checklist with only 13 rewards policies but over 70 penalties policies, afterwards which they are asked to watch an orientation video on the Foxconn factory. The factory’s controversial suicide issues were always unanswered by the management, whenever someone raised a question on that. However, the journalist had noticed that all the windows in the dormitory were framed behind bars
Day 7: Break Time – “Release Of Stress”
After the training session, the employees were arranged to start work very swiftly. They were not allowed to rest during the day time.
The journalist had visited many Foxconn facilities like dormitory, canteen, bathing room, playground, gym, hospital, postal office, library and shopping street during his disguise and most of them were found to be of “no use.”
Here is a description about the weekends from journalist’s diary: “Over the weekends, outside at the playground, there’s a social gathering where all Foxconn workers gather and dance. The host of the party speaks through the mic: 'We are all over stressed everyday and we are not allowed to shout on the production floor. Over here you can shout as loud as you want to release your stress.’”
DAYS 8 to 10: iPhone 5 Assembling- “Do What You Are Told To Do!”
Finallt, after his seven days at the Foxconn, the reporter got to work on the iPhone5. This is what he wrote: “We have reached the entrance of the production floor with a warning sign that says: ‘TOP SECURITY AREA’. We are told that if anyone enter or exit the metal detector door with carrying any metallic stuff in their body such as belt buckle, ear rings, cameras, handset, mp3 players, the alarm will sound and they will be fired on the spot. One of my roommates told me that his friend was fired because he carried an USB charging cable. When I walked into the production floor after passing through the metal detector door, I heard loud sounds of machinery engines and a very dense of plastic smell. Our supervisor warned us: “Once you sit down, you only do what you are told”. The supervisor finally presented us the back of the iPhone 5 and showed it to all of us and said: ‘This is the new unleashed iPhone 5 back plate, you should be honored having the chance to produce it.’”
“Our line is being assigned to use masking tapes and plastic stoppers to cover up the earphone jack and the connector ports of the back plate in order to prevent the paint from being sprayed onto it on the next process. Our supervisor asked us to put on our mask and gloves and see how the seniors work on it. At 11 p.m, we went for supper and after midnight, we started work again. I’m assigned to mark placement points on the iPhone 5 back-plate using an oil-based paint pen. I’ve been scolded many times for spilling too much oil on the markings. My roommate was assigned to paste the masking tapes of not more than 5mm wide on the right spots that I have marked. And he has being scolded many times for pasting them too slow. Our supervisor said that these works were actually being assigned to females workers with nimbler fingers, but due to too many workers have resigned lately they have no choice but to assign these jobs to male workers.”
“An iPhone 5 back-plate pass in front of me almost every 3 seconds. I have to pickup the back-plate and mark 4 position points using the oil-based paint pen and put it back on the running belt swiftly within 3 seconds with no errors. After such repeated action for several hours, I had terrible neck ache and muscle pain on my arm. A new worker who sat opposite of me gone exhausted and laid down for a short while. The supervisor has noticed him and punished him by asking him to stand at one corner for 10 minutes like the old school days. We worked non-stop from midnight to the next morning 6 a.m but were still asked to keep on working as the production line is based on running belt and no one is allowed to stop. I’m so starving and fully exhausted.”
“By my own calculations, I have to mark five iPhone plates every minute, at least. For every 10 hours, I have to accomplish 3,000 iPhone 5 back plates. There are total 4 production lines in charge of this process, 12 workers in every line. Each line can produce 36,000 iPhone 5 back plates in half a day, this is scary … I finally stopped working at 7 a.m. We were asked to gather again after work. The supervisor shout out loud in front of us: “Who wants to rest early at 5 a.m!? We are all here to earn money! Let’s work harder!” I was thinking who on earth wants to work two extra hours overtime for only mere 27 Yuan!”
“On the following day, we were all being treated the same way by our supervisors and all of us were very annoyed. Every time we picked up the iPhone 5 components, we put it back on the running belt real hard and scold “fxxk” just to release our stress. One of the senior advised us to stop work on time at 5 a.m, even if the supervisor asks for over time, as this is not against the regulations. Among our batch of 36 new workers, only two workers were lucky enough to arrange work under the quality control inspection department, where they get to rest 10 minutes for every 2 hours work, unlike the rest of us who have to work non-stop for 7 straight hours.”
The diary ends on his 10th day, as he got out of the factory, unable to bear with conditions inside the factory, which ironically, produces one of world’s most admired product.