Since the beginning of this year, a number of media outlets have reported on working conditions at Foxconn, the company that makes electronics for high-profile companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple. Although the reports have been disputed by companies, they paint a picture of long hours, poor safety, and unfair treatment for many of the company's 1.2 million employees. Now, a CNN reporter has interviewed an 18-year-old student who works 60-hour weeks manufacturing iPads in a Chengdu factory. The worker, known as "Miss Chen," says that the restaurant she was interviewed at is the first she's been to since starting work at the factory, where she also eats and sleeps. The CNN meeting was also, she said, the first time she had seen a finished iPad.
Although Chen was initially excited about landing a job at the factory, she now regrets it, saying that "I can't bear it anymore. Everyday is like: I get off from work and I go to bed. I get up in the morning, and I go to work. It is my daily routine and I almost feel like an animal." Moreover, the sick leave and benefits she says she was promised at the beginning turned out to be only for senior employees, and employees are threatened with "criminal liability" for speaking to the press. Despite the scrutiny Foxconn is receiving, however, it's difficult to say if its working conditions are actually worse than average among similar factories. Chen's story is hardly one of the worst that's come out of recent investigations, but it's a reminder of the working conditions that are considered standard or even favorable in electronics manufacturing.
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