What's new
Apple iPad Forum

Welcome to the Apple iPad Forum, your one stop source for all things iPad. Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

ABC Nightline visits iPad Factory in China.

thewitt

iPF Novice
Joined
Jun 5, 2011
Messages
1,633
Reaction score
73
These workers, virtually 250,000 of them, are kids. They are migrants. They come into the city to get these jobs, they work for a few years, they send all their money home, and they are gone.

This is not a career.

We have a factory in China. Our operators go through a 6 month training period because the job is skilled. They sign a three year contract, however after CNY or another long holiday, many do not return. Why? They have made enough money they can go home now...

It's an expensive proposition for us to train these kids only to have them run hope before they have finished.

What's the option? Pay them more? They will leave sooner for home... Hire only those who want to make a career with us? The factory cities, the industrial zones that China has established, are not where these kids want to settle down.

It's a real challenge, and we only employee 1200 operators. I can only imagine how Foxconn desks with 250,000 at one location.
 

idave23

iPF Noob
Joined
Apr 22, 2011
Messages
487
Reaction score
11
Location
Illinois
These workers, virtually 250,000 of them, are kids. They are migrants. They come into the city to get these jobs, they work for a few years, they send all their money home, and they are gone.

This is not a career.

We have a factory in China. Our operators go through a 6 month training period because the job is skilled. They sign a three year contract, however after CNY or another long holiday, many do not return. Why? They have made enough money they can go home now...

It's an expensive proposition for us to train these kids only to have them run hope before they have finished.

What's the option? Pay them more? They will leave sooner for home... Hire only those who want to make a career with us? The factory cities, the industrial zones that China has established, are not where these kids want to settle down.
For some this is the case, yes. But IMO we should be very careful about making overly broad generalizations about anything having to do with China, especially the motives and goals of it's workforce.
 

thewitt

iPF Novice
Joined
Jun 5, 2011
Messages
1,633
Reaction score
73
My observations come from direct experience trying to maintain a trained workforce in a factory city in China. The are not idle speculation from the other side of the globe.
 

s2mikey

iPF Novice
Joined
Oct 12, 2011
Messages
1,556
Reaction score
169
Location
Upstate, NY
thewitt said:
My observations come from direct experience trying to maintain a trained workforce in a factory city in China. The are not idle speculation from the other side of the globe.

Just curious, why not try a workforce right here in your own back yard? If they get a few bucks in their pockets and then go home, how does that possibly help? At least here in the USA we won't go home after a few paychecks. Right?

Doesn't stability count for something? I mean, when I hear about workers committing suicide I'd think it would be within my best interest to assess what we are doing. I'm not a business owner so I probably don't know all the ins and outs. But, common sense dictates you'd want a stable, happy workforce, not one filled with people who bolt on a whim or kill themselves.

Geesh.
 
Last edited:

idave23

iPF Noob
Joined
Apr 22, 2011
Messages
487
Reaction score
11
Location
Illinois
My observations come from direct experience trying to maintain a trained workforce in a factory city in China. The are not idle speculation from the other side of the globe.
Not arguing with your experience or observations. Just saying that they don't translate to every migrant worker in China.
 

Seadog

iPF Noob
Joined
Mar 25, 2010
Messages
2,522
Reaction score
52
Location
Oklahoma
Just curious, why not try a workforce right here in your own back yard? If they get a few bucks in their pockets and then go home, how does that possibly help? At least here in the USA we won't go home after a few paychecks. Right?

Doesn't stability count for something? I mean, when I hear about workers committing suicide I'd think it would be within my best interest to assess what we are doing. I'm not a business owner so I probably don't know all the ins and outs. But, common sense dictates you'd want a stable, happy workforce, not one filled with people who bolt on a whim or kill themselves.

Geesh.

We do not have a work force capable of such work. First, much of the work would be done by machines because it would be cheaper than our wage rate. Second, Americans do not desire such work. We have huge shortages in skilled laborers. Kids want to be other things, not tied to a menial job for fifty years. You want to make a good living, become a machinist, a mechanic, a plumber, a trucker. Two years of low cost (compared to college) and you can write your ticket. There is also the factor that these are not long term jobs. They are best served by young limber adults. Once they are of an age to start families, this no longer becomes the work they want. And this works well for the manufacturers.

The suicide thing is being overplayed. The suicide rate for Foxconn is lower than the Chinese average. It just got a lot of publicity. Foxconn did the right things and are saying the right things. Yes, improvements are needed, but they cannot happen overnight.
 
Last edited:

thewitt

iPF Novice
Joined
Jun 5, 2011
Messages
1,633
Reaction score
73
Just curious, why not try a workforce right here in your own back yard? If they get a few bucks in their pockets and then go home, how does that possibly help? At least here in the USA we won't go home after a few paychecks. Right?

Doesn't stability count for something? I mean, when I hear about workers committing suicide I'd think it would be within my best interest to assess what we are doing. I'm not a business owner so I probably don't know all the ins and outs. But, common sense dictates you'd want a stable, happy workforce, not one filled with people who bolt on a whim or kill themselves.

Geesh.

We left the US well over two decades ago, as price pressure out stripped our ability to manufacture cost effectively in the US.

The cost of automation to counter the labor costs run into the billions of dollars for a given factory, and even with the high turnover, it's still an order of magnitude cheaper in China, the Philippines and Malaysia for this type of assembly process.

People who are saying things like the iPhone would only be $68 more expensive if built in the US are simply incorrect or only partially informed. These devices are build by hand, very labor intensive. Over the 5 days of assembly for a phone, you can probably identify 2.5 days of labor. At $15 an hour that's $1500 in loaded labor costs per phone.

Impossible.
 

Gabriel1

iPF Noob
Joined
Mar 11, 2011
Messages
17,091
Reaction score
747
Location
Cranbrook, Kent, UK
With respect to pay scales it is easy to say pay them a fair wage however there are sometimes consequences. Back in the eighties I worked for a company who had projects on another continent, the workers their were paid the equivalent of 5 pence per day. Our company put pressure on the local contractors to pay the local workforce a "fairer" wage. The result, alcoholism spread like wild fire through the workforce as they were not used to having so much disposable income, they didn't have the infrastructure or need to allow them to spend on the types of things we would spend money on.

What we consider a fair wage can be destructive if not bought in over a considerable period of time along with the infrastructure and support for those people.

I'm not saying what is happening at these places is right or wrong but it is easy to think that a simple change will make their world a better place, in my experience there are no easy answers and short term solutions very rarely work.

The Archangel
 

Kaykaykay

iPF Noob
Joined
Apr 28, 2011
Messages
6,970
Reaction score
446
Depending on whose figures you trust, there are an estimated 130 million Chinese migrant workers, and their motivations vary.

According to a good book by a former Wall Street Journal reporter, migrants on surveys rank "developing themselves," "seeing the world" and "learning new skills" as highly as they do making money. This generation of migrants is different from the previous generation's. They're better educated, more ambitious and come from backgrounds that are better off. They more often come out of choice, rather than desperation. But what they find in cities is often crummy work and limited opportunities. Given that, along with a lack of legal residency and the cost of living in cities, they're often forced out. Many would rather stay in big cities, but can't make it. So they often end up in smaller cities, and choose not to return to their home villages.

This generation's migrants can't be judged on assumptions based on the previous generation. And the differences are prompting changes, as idave mentions earlier, including factories having to chase workers inland for not only cheaper costs, but workers who are less willing to make as many sacrifices as the previous generation was.

My family has been involved in manufacturing and exporting in China for two generations, and I would not make some of the assumptions that others have on this thread. I speak Chinese and can communicate with the workers, but I don't expect that they will tell me -- someone of much greater privilege, and separated by opportunity if not culture -- their hopes and dreams.

For anyone interested in Chinese factory workers, I suggest this book:

Amazon.com: Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China eBook: Leslie T. Chang: Kindle Store
 

thewitt

iPF Novice
Joined
Jun 5, 2011
Messages
1,633
Reaction score
73
Though I don't believe anyone in this thread ever said all Chinese migrant workers share the same motivations, I can tell you that my first hand observations are the result of exit interviews with every employee who leaves our factory. These interviews are required before they get their final paycheck, and the results are reviewed quarterly so that we can try to reduce the turnover.

The overwhelming response from these interviews is that the employee simply wanted to return home.

Turnover is extremely high in all the factory cities, and in HR conferences regularly held in the region, we hear the same thing from our competitors.

Take that information as you may, it's pretty clear to me.
 

s2mikey

iPF Novice
Joined
Oct 12, 2011
Messages
1,556
Reaction score
169
Location
Upstate, NY
Seadog said:
We do not have a work force capable of such work. First, much of the work would be done by machines because it would be cheaper than our wage rate. Second, Americans do not desire such work. We have huge shortages in skilled laborers. Kids want to be other things, not tied to a menial job for fifty years. You want to make a good living, become a machinist, a mechanic, a plumber, a trucker. Two years of low cost (compared to college) and you can write your ticket. There is also the factor that these are not long term jobs. They are best served by young limber adults. Once they are of an age to start families, this no longer becomes the work they want. And this works well for the manufacturers.

The suicide thing is being overplayed. The suicide rate for Foxconn is lower than the Chinese average. It just got a lot of publicity. Foxconn did the right things and are saying the right things. Yes, improvements are needed, but they cannot happen overnight.

Some good points here. I would say though that kids might avoid such jobs because they don't pay well and maybe have a stigma attached to them. We used to make a lot of stuff here. Many of those people went onto support families in thriving middle class communities. I know, it's not 1950 anymore. :)

If this is truly the case then there should be no reason for anyone to complain about a lack of factory work here. It's just that, well, not everyone is cut out for the college thing. There isn't anything wrong with making a living with your hands. Actually, we probably lack people that can do such a thing in this country.

Ah well.
 

Kaykaykay

iPF Noob
Joined
Apr 28, 2011
Messages
6,970
Reaction score
446
Though I don't believe anyone in this thread ever said all Chinese migrant workers share the same motivations, I can tell you that my first hand observations are the result of exit interviews with every employee who leaves our factory. These interviews are required before they get their final paycheck, and the results are reviewed quarterly so that we can try to reduce the turnover.

The overwhelming response from these interviews is that the employee simply wanted to return home.

Turnover is extremely high in all the factory cities, and in HR conferences regularly held in the region, we hear the same thing from our competitors.

Take that information as you may, it's pretty clear to me.

I can't speak to your company and its practices, but as you probably know, some factories cheat their workers out of final pay. Withholding someone's last check and having the power of giving them a poor reference (if that's a consideration in your sector, depending on the job) would be possible motivators for someone to give a quick answer that's incontestable. What I know about Chinese people is not to take things at face value.

What I know about what I say at exit interviews: I'm ready to move on, and my interest is in protecting the work I've put in and leaving on a good note, so that my reference is not affected by anything negative I might say. I've never griped when I've left, partly because I'm no longer invested in the company's improvement. There's a Chinese phrase that translates roughly into "not bothering to wise you up," and I would apply that to such situations.
 

thewitt

iPF Novice
Joined
Jun 5, 2011
Messages
1,633
Reaction score
73
I trust the interview results from our very experienced Chinese HR professionals who do hundreds of these exit interviews a year.
 
Last edited:

Kaykaykay

iPF Noob
Joined
Apr 28, 2011
Messages
6,970
Reaction score
446
Kay, you know it would make no difference what I say, you would post to contradict me regardless.

I trust the interview results from our very experienced Chinese HR professionals.

It is hard for HR people to convey information that is not said. Chinese culture often is more about what is unsaid, than what is said. As many people know from doing international trade, Chinese communication is high context, in comparison with American communication or German communication, for example, which is low context. (Lots of info available online to that effect.)

Adding a good link for reference: http://mqjeffrey.hubpages.com/hub/High-Context-vs-Low-Context-Communication

As noted, Chinese limit a lot of information to "in" groups. That's why I would not expect an HR person to get any real answers in an exit interview in a factory setting, for example.
 
Last edited:

idave23

iPF Noob
Joined
Apr 22, 2011
Messages
487
Reaction score
11
Location
Illinois
Kaykaykay said:
It is hard for HR people to convey information that is not said. Chinese culture often is more about what is unsaid, than what is said. As many people know from doing international trade, Chinese communication is high context, in comparison with American communication or German communication, for example, which is low context. (Lots of info available online to that effect.)

Adding a good link for reference: http://mqjeffrey.hubpages.com/hub/High-Context-vs-Low-Context-Communication

As noted, Chinese limit a lot of information to "in" groups. That's why I would not expect an HR person to get any real answers in an exit interview in a factory setting, for example.

My wife, who was both an employee and owner in Chinese manufacturing for over twenty years confirms this. She says she didn't rely on "exit" interviews because she didn't expect to learn anything new. Saving face is a big deal in Chinese culture and works both ways in a business relationship.
 

Most reactions

Latest posts

Top