Apple: Supporters of Concentration Camps

Aside from my very first phone, which was a Sony Ericsson slide phone, I have owned nothing but the Apple iPhone. I think that Apple should be applauded for its ability to market their brand so successfully that they have mesmerized 51% of the US population. However, discovering their complete lack of ethics has recently broken my once whimsical support for the company.

Apple has been ranked the ‘most admired’ company in the world this year for the eighth time; masses are continually buying into the façade that Apple maintains. However, hypocrisy lies in their success. While the company ranks number 1 in all of Fortune’s nine key attributes of reputation, there is clear evidence to disprove the fourth attribute: ‘social responsibility’.

BBC Panorama released a documentary in late 2014 exposing the numerous breaches of Apple’s own code of conduct that occur daily at Pegatron, one of Apple’s factories. The programme showed footage of the disgusting working conditions in the Chinese factory, and shared the poor treatment of workers.

After watching the documentary I found myself comparing the lives of Apple factory workers to those of war prisoners confined in Germany’s largest concentration camp, Auschwitz Birkenau. While I mean no insult or disrespect to the undeserving victims of World War II, and by no means am dismissing the repulsive nature of the German concentration camps, I want to outline the ways in which Pegatron’s conditions compare to that of Aushwitz to illuminate the severity of Apple’s lack of social responsibility in such a modern age, and certainly not to undermine the traumatic experiences of war prisoners.

Prisoners of Aushwitz were forced to work a minimum of 11 hours per day, with the remainder of the time being filled with ‘long roll-call assemblies, lining up for rations or a place in the latrines or washroom’. Living conditions in Aushwitz were extremely poor, with sanitation and safety non-existent, and sleeping conditions overcrowded: The barracks were ‘intended to accommodate between 250 and 400 prisoners, but they would often house 700 to 1200 prisoners each’.

One of the undercover reporters for the BBC documentary outlined that he worked up to 16 hours on many days, with the majority of workers engaging in over 60 hours of work a week, with rest time spent waiting 30 minutes to enter the production facility. The BBC also found that 12 individuals occupied employee dorms, ‘when the rules only allow eight workers to share a room’. Workers were often placed in unsafe and increased risk situations, such as wearing gloves that do not ‘sufficiently protect from the materials used to create the metal backplates for the iPad’.

Of course the living conditions of Pegatron are not congruent with those of Aushwitz, however the same negligence’s apply. Just as prisoners lacked proper nutrition, safe-working conditions, personal space and restricted work hours, so do the factory workers. We are so horrified with the dehumanisation of individuals in concentration camps and other instances throughout history, however turn a blind eye to the mistreatment and devaluing of human life that is happening right now.

References:

American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, 2015, Auschwitz-Birkenau: Living Conditions, Labor & Executions, Jewish Virtual Library, viewed 22/4/15,

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/auconditions.html

Gurman, M 2013, Working conditions at Apple manufacturing partner Pegatron come under fire, 9TO5 Mac, weblog, 28 July, viewed 22/4/15, http://9to5mac.com/2013/07/28/working-conditions-at-apple-manufacturing-partner-pegatron-come-under-fire/

London Jewish Cultural Centre, 2010, What were the camps?, The Holocaust Explained, viewed 22/4/15, http://www.theholocaustexplained.org/ks3/the-camps/#.VUbjodqqqko

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2 responses to “Apple: Supporters of Concentration Camps”

  1. jimmarshman says :

    Wow, I had no idea just how bad the conditions were for Apple workers, it makes you wonder how many of these huge corporations use basically ‘slave’ labour to create their products. Surely the huge cost of each iPhone would allow for the company to spend a bit more money on their production costs!

  2. withinandbeyond says :

    After learning about this topic, I’m definitely thinking twice about throwing out my Iphone! I think you made an interesting point in comparing the workers of factories to Auschwitz, especially in regards to the working conditions and social responsibility. I think both Pegatron and Apple are equally at fault when it comes to this issue. Even though Pegatron treats its workers awfully, by forcing them to sign documents they haven’t read and making them fall asleep on the job, Apple is just as much at fault due to them meeting deadlines for the market and not caring enough about these workers to do anything about it. Not to mention the competition and reputations they want to uphold throughout the globe. I liked the angle of your post and thought you were brave to compare it to Auschwitz, I think from learning about this topic that we must know the conditions are extremely bad when Apple decides to solve the issue of suicide by placing safety nets around the buildings… Good work ☺

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