The New York Times today took a long, hard look at the working conditions for Chinese workers who assemble Apple products. The article was published the same day Apple’s stock rose 6.3 percent to $446.66 per share. That pushed Apple’s market share to $419 billion, making it the most valuable publicly-traded company in the world, ahead of ExxonMobil.
But the New York Times article does not paint a pretty picture of how that empire is being built, describing overworked and under insured employees living in poor conditions. The Times did say Apple execs are examining the issues:
Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk. Under-age workers have helped build Apple’s products, and the company’s suppliers have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and falsified records, according to company reports and advocacy groups that, within China, are often considered reliable, independent monitors.
More troubling, the groups say, is some suppliers’ disregard for workers’ health. Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to clean iPhone screens. Within seven months last year, two explosions at iPad factories, including in Chengdu, killed four people and injured 77. Before those blasts, Apple had been alerted to hazardous conditions inside the Chengdu plant, according to a Chinese group that published that warning.