Chinese Workers Make $8 Per iPad

Chinese workers who produce the iPad make only about $8 per unit, according to Korean Daily. That means, they make only 1.6 percent of the price of the cheapest iPad ($499) and substantially less from the most expensive one (which costs $829). In contrast, workers in Korea are paid about about $34 per unit among them, giving them 6.8 percent of the sales price. Apple has not responded to requests to comment, says Phil Muncaster on Channel Register.

In the wake of continued reports about dismal working conditions at Chinese factories operated by Foxconn, Apple has asked the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to audit Foxconn facilities in Shenzhen and Chengdu, China. After these audits are completed, Apple says that it will have the FLA review other of its production partners so that, in the end, some 90 percent of its products will have been inspected.

At an an investor conference on February 14, Apple CEO Tim Cook specifically said that “No one in our industry is doing more to improve working conditions than Apple.” He also spoke of child labor as “abhorrent” and said that such is “extremely rare” in the company’s supply chain.

Apple does seem to be responding to the reports about human rights abuses in its suppliers’ factories in the midst of more and more coverage about such issues. A recent CNN report about Foxconn workers included an interview with a “Miss Chen,” a young woman from rural China, who emphasizes the mind-dulling repetitive work of putting stickers on iPad screens:

“At Foxconn we have a saying, she says, women work like men and work like machines. A better way of putting it is that women work like men and men work like animals.”

“It’s so boring, I can’t bear it anymore. Everyday was like: I get off from work, and I go to bed. I get up in the morning, and I go to work. It became my daily routine and I almost felt like I was some kind of animal.”

“Miss Chen” makes about 1300 RMB — about US$200 — a month, including overtime.

The iPad and Ethical Concerns

Like many — and like many parents of children with disabilities and with autism in particular — I have sung the praises of the iPad. Muncaster calls the device a “shiny toy” (and a “fondleslab”) and that is what the iPad is for many of us. For my teenage son Charlie, who’s moderately to severely autistic, the iPad has been a device that he can operate independently, so that, for the first time in his life, he can listen to the music and see the photos and videos he likes (Charlie doesn’t seem able to read, at least not yet) all on his own. Many parents have described how helpful numerous apps have been for the children with disabilities; for Charlie, the touchscreen technology of the iPad has on its own been the key. Some individuals with disabilities use iPads as augmentative communication devices; while the cost of an iPad is beyond the means of many families, other kinds of  communication devices are far more expensive.

Certainly I feel fortunate that we’re able to provide Charlie with an iPad.  But even while lauding it, I think it’s necessary to keep the human costs of producing the iPad, and all Apple products, in sight; to remember that the shiny technology that our society gloats over is made in conditions that we would find intolerable for any workers.

My husband and I hope that Charlie will have a job when he is an adult. Due to his disabilities, the sort of job that Charlie will have is likely to be somewhat similar to that of the workers at the Foxconn plant, repetitive and the kind of thing many would prefer not to do. Not only do we need to keep the pressure on Apple to ensure that employees in overseas factories work in humane and ethical conditions; we need to protect the rights of workers like Charlie, of workers with disabilities, and call for transparency and fair wages.

The “shiny toys” we buy at the Apple are smudge free when we take them out of the box. We need to remember they were made by human hands, whose fingerprints have been carefully wiped away.

Related Care2 Coverage

Can Apple Make an Ethical iPhone5?

iPhones, Foxconn and Obama’s Empty China Rant

How Many People Died To Make Your iPad?

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Laura Saxon
Past Member 2 years ago

That's terrible! They should get paid more.

Sarah M.
Sarah M.3 years ago

First off, to the idiots on here, you realize that she's saying that the workers as a whole make $8 per ipad, not each worker! Secondly, a lot of you make me sick to my stomach you are so apathetic and selfish--these poor human beings are put through hell and all you can think of are your shiny toys! I am boycotting Apple for life because of their despicable and unforgivable practices--are you willing to do the same and stand up for what is right?!

Shuan A.
Shuan A.3 years ago

The same is true for all the wal mart products, but their parking lots are full.


colleen p.
colleen p.3 years ago

who wants to say terrible things like
"good, I mean, they cook dogs alive. so what"

no, really. go to the animal rights part of this page. these people want the Chinese people to dissapear. all of them.

Lynn C.
Lynn C.3 years ago

When we really learn what it costs to produce any item on the store shelves - not only in direct human suffering, but in the suffering of the whole ecosystem we might just STOP buying the stuff! One can only hope.

KS Goh
KS Goh3 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Christine Stewart

For the people who say these guys should be grateful to have a job- just think about the obscene profits Apple makes- they could pay the people a little bit more, give them a few work benefits, and be freakin' HEROES to some really poor people. No, they would rather wring every bit of profit they can out of people desperate for work. Anybody watch "Undercover Boss?" The wealthy CEOs fail miserably at the jobs they demand of their minimum wage employees- of course, that is why they are wealthy- by wringing every bit of profit out of people desperate for work...

s. ryan
p. q3 years ago

no foxconn that's a bad foxconn!

Stanley Balgobin
Stanley R.3 years ago

At least they have jobs. Here in the US, we unemployed do not get much more than $200/mo unemployment benefits, and if the GOP gets elected you can forget about that as well.

Will Rogers
Will Rogers3 years ago

Then why are Ipads so expensive? Don't blame the Chinese, they're not the ones ripping you off. That's reserved for your American brothers and sisters, it's pointless to blame the Chinese! Why does this subject bring so many xenophobes out of the bushes. Your own country people are ripping you off rotten and you can't see them? The Chinese are not trying to rip you off, they don't deliberately go to work in order to deprive you of a job, they're not even aware of you, they're just trying to live like anyone else on the planet. You lot should look at the companies that have shifted their business overseas.