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Month: April 2017

Silk Road – The Ancient Trade Route

The Silk Road is an ancient trade route that connects China to the West. For centuries it has played an important role as a crosspoint for civilisations.Today it plays a key role in the geopolitics between China and the U.S.…

1961 Paris Massacre – The Massacre Algerian Muslims Never Forgot

The Paris massacre of 1961 occurred on 17 October 1961, during the Algerian War (1954–62). Under orders from the head of the Parisian police, Maurice Papon, the French National Police attacked a demonstration of some 30,000 protestors.…

What it’s like to work in Chinese factory assembling iPhones

FOR your average student at the prestigious New York University, Dejian Zeng had a really unconventional Summer internship job.

The 23-year-old student went undercover in a Chinese factory which was contracted to assemble Apple iPhones. Working six days a week on the assembly line he spent the better part of six weeks repeatedly putting screws in the back of Apple’s popular smartphones, over and over again.

Most of us would recoil at the idea but he embarked on the surreptitious mission because he wanted to see “how the workers feel and what their lives were like,” he told news.com.au.

“They’re not happy about it but they’re not very angry,” he said. They mostly come from rural areas and because they feel like they are lacking in education, they don’t have many options.

“They’re kind of expecting it to be very tiring, very boring and that they’re going to have to work long hours,” he said.

During the week Zeng would spend 12 hours inside the factory (but only get paid for 10.5 hours) and screw approximately 1800 screws into 1800 iPhones. He and the rest of the workers would also work an eight hour day on Saturday. Sunday was their only rest day.

For this monotonous and laborious work he was paid 3100 yuan a month after meals and board were taken out, or by today’s exchange rate, just $606.

For the 60 hours weeks he worked, on the occasion there was no forced overtime, that works out to be about $2.50 an hour.

Dejian Zeng spent six weeks working undercover at a factory which assembles iPhones in China.

Dejian Zeng spent six weeks working undercover at a factory which assembles iPhones in China.Source:Supplied

Zeng worked putting screws in the back of iPhone 6s and iPhone 7s and said the various jobs on the assembly line seemed to be handed out at random with the less taxing jobs usually given to female workers.

The investigation was a result of a partnership between NYU and a Chinese NGO called China Labor Watch which periodically sends undercover workers into factories to investigate working conditions.

When Zeng interned with the NGO last year, he soon found himself happily being sent to factory near Shanghai owned by Taiwanese contract manufacturing giant Pegatron which was contracted to assemble the Apple devices.

THE “INTERVIEW”

Getting a job inside the factory was incredibly easy. Zeng said he simply “rocked up” outside the building with a crowd of other job hopefuls during an intake with their luggage in hand. The most strenuous part on the interview process was reciting the English alphabet, he said.

“There was a quick interview process that you show your hands and recite English alphabet. It’s just so easy.”

A vast majority of the workers lived in eight-bed dormitories at the site of the factory for 160 yuan a month, deducted from their salary. The facilities included a gym and a counselling and therapy office for workers.

Employees were not allowed to take any electronics inside the factory production area but Zeng took a number of photos of …

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