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Apple Admits to Occasional Excessive Work Hours 362

rev_media writes "After Apple's release of a report on the labor conditions in their Chinese factories, many took issue with the deliberately vague wording used in the statement. The BBC is now reporting that Apple has admitted to 'excessive' working hours in some locations, and they would be ensuring that a 'normal' 60-hour work week will be adhered to from now on." From that article: "'We found no instances of forced overtime and employees confirmed in interviews that they could decline overtime requests without penalty,' said Apple in a statement. The firm said there were 'overtime limit exceptions in unusual circumstances' and that it supported a healthy work-life balance. But it did not specify what the triggers for 'unusual circumstances' were and what upper limit it set on working hours. Mr Kuczkiewicz said Apple had not asked workers what they preferred - a decent wage or minimum wage and overtime."
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Apple Admits to Occasional Excessive Work Hours

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  • Ok look... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Sweatshops are evil. But... other cultures outside of the US may be so poor compared to the average US citizen that working 2/3 of their existence may be well worth it for the pay they recieve.

    Is it worth it? Well, to them maybe.

    Is it moral? No.

    And even though Apple may be a part of the problem, they are certainly not the cause.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kfg ( 145172 ) *
      Is it moral? No.

      What is immoral about survival?

      KFG
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by polar red ( 215081 )
      working 2/3 of their existence may be well worth it for the pay they recieve.

      I hate this kind of reasoning. It says western people are better than the rest This INDUCES terrorism.
    • by weijiao ( 749614 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @05:25AM (#15939760)
      Chinese labour law is very clear on this issue and the comments attributed to Apple are laughable. It is unlawful for employees in China to work 60 hours per week, even if they request it. Chinese law provides for a 40 hour working week with quite limited legal overtime. Apple have chosen to permit these unlawful working hours.

      It is very unlikely that Apple is unaware of this and this is just exploitation of workers by Apple's subcontractors.

      900 million Chinese earn less than USD 300 per year and yes, that is poverty. You cannot live comfortably on that amount in China. No-one wants to work 60 hours per week, but it is not difficult to persuade someone to do that, contrary to the law, if they are very poor. That is why they do it - it has nothing to do with the Asian work ethic.

      Apple should be ashamed of itself for participating in this exploitative conduct, and then trying to gloss over it.
      • by johnsonlam ( 912562 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @06:56AM (#15939935) Homepage
        Any Chinese here except me?

        Everybody knows the China law "usually" doesn't mean anything, the Capitalist around the world build factories to torture the China workers ... long working hours, bad working environment, salary below living standard, lack of proper training ... as I know the recent years some improvements were made, but far behind the western standard.

        Someone want Apple in trouble so they magnified Apple, but not only Apple did this, why not stop all the factories but only picky at Apple? Just like bible story in John 8-7: Whichever one of you has committed no sin may throw the first stone at her.

        Hypocritical is the word to describe the man releasing this, if he got so much free time, take a look at the Lenovo, Dell, Acer, Asus ... etc. Which one have the right to stone Apple?

        • "Just like bible story in John 8-7: Whichever one of you has committed no sin may throw the first stone at her."

          You quote Bible on Internet. That illegal. You report to nearest re-education camp now!
      • The poverty line in one country isn't the same as the poverty line in a different country. It's much lower in china because goods are much cheaper and, because it's communist, lots of services you'd have to pay for in the US are provided by the Chinese government for 'free' and paid for by taxes.
      • by jcr ( 53032 )
        Apple have chosen to permit these unlawful working hours.

        Nope. Apple's contract manufacturer did so, and Apple put a stop to it when it was brought to Apple's attention.

        -jcr
    • Obviously its worth it to them but that doesn't mean its ok. Just becuase the options are your children starving or you work 80 hours a week does not mean its really a choice.

      The sad thing is that many people think this is the price of progress, it's not. Maybe people are too greedy if we have to enslave other people so we can have enough cheap electronics in our homes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bombula ( 670389 )
      And even though Apple may be a part of the problem, they are certainly not the cause.

      I'm sure plantation owners in 19th Century South Carolina would have said the same thing. Your qualifications about the immorality of the situation do indeed prevent the above quote from being a totally asinine statement, but you're hanging on by your fingernails. You agree that what is occuring is morally wrong. That would make it a moral offense, if not an actual crime under the law. How, then, can perpetrators of an

      • by jcr ( 53032 )
        Hold the people responsible who you can get your hands on. That's what we do with drugs. We bust users, bust dealers, and bust producers.

        And gosh, look how well that works! Yes, I sleep better knowing that our government is out there busting kids and cancer patients for smoking dope.

        -jcr
         
    • Re:Ok look... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NtroP ( 649992 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @01:39PM (#15941343)

      Agreed. -- WTF!

      I have often worked 60 hours a week - and I'm not paid ANY overtime! Yes, I have the choice to NOT work extra hours, but then my job would not get done. And I don't want to hear about "working smarter" or "hiring more people". I'm working as smart as I can and my staff keeps getting cut. We have a 1000+ to 1 computer to technician ratio and "management" thinks that's fine (as long as *they* get fast response). It's bullshit and everyone knows it, but it's reality and it's the job I get paid to do. I could easily get another job, but I like what I'm doing and have decided to stay where I am. I'd be REALLY pissed it some fsking do-gooder tried to tell my employer that I'd be forced to stop working after 40 hours (although overtime would be nice but exempt employees don't get that).

      My daughter is saving for college. She works 2, back-to-back, full-time jobs during the summer so that she doesn't have to borrow money to pay for tuition. That's way more than 60 hours a week with NO overtime. She's only 17. I'm not sure if that is legal in my state for someone her age, but they can piss off. It's her choice. She bought her own car, pays her own insurance and manages her social life around her responsibilities. She'd be crushed if she was forced to back off on her hours because some lazy, loser bureaucrat told her she was working too hard. She'd love to be making twice what she's making, but she's only 17 and they don't pay "kids" with few skills much more than minimum wage. So she does what she can and sacrifices her social time to reach her goals. We've talked about what happens when classes starts and she's agreed that studies come first, so she'll quit one of her jobs.

      If the workers in China are being mistreated and are FORCED (by their employer) to work more than 40 hours then, yes, I have a problem with that. But if they truly have the option to work AND they get paid overtime for it, let them have it! Has anyone compared their (the "abused Chinese") annual incomes against the other incomes and work hours for others in that area? I'd really like to know. Because if they are working more hours and still making less then there is a problem. However, if they are making proportionally more then SHUT THE FUCK UP and let them work!

      I didn't grow up in America. I grew up in a 3rd-world country. The whole mind-set of society there was different back then (and admittedly, much more "primitive"). Where I grew up, you started working in the fields for several hours a day when you turned 7! When you turned 12 you were expected to look for a wife and be working full-time. Turning 12 was the rite-of-passage to adulthood and you got all the responsibilities AND privileges of adulthood. We kids didn't know any different. We looked forward to each phase of life with anticipation. We weren't brought up to expect to "play" until we were 18 and then start our adult life.

      Looking back on it from the perspective of a parent raising kids in America, I can see that that culture and those attitudes would never fly here. But I don't see use as being "abused" as kids. I received my first weapon (modified and "safed") when I was 6. I went on my first "hunt" with the men when I was 7 (mostly along to do the "women's work" (read grunt-work) and to learn the ropes) - kind of like an apprenticeship, I guess. When I was 12, I went along as a full-fledged member of the group. There was no "screwing around". I'd been raised my whole life to be responsible. Today, I can't imagine trusting a 12 year old with that kind of responsibility. Of course we don't raise them to be responsible. We raise them to never take responsibility and to expect to have fun until they're "adults".

      My point in all this is that it's easy to judge one culture from the perspective of another, and in doing so do great harm to their way of life. There are cases where abuse is really taking place and, when found, it must be dealt with. But c'mon. A 60-hour week, with overtime? I'd take that. At least give me the option.

  • Interesting, but ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Iron (III) Chloride ( 922186 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @02:36AM (#15939388)
    It's interesting how I keep getting reports of factory workers being constantly over-worked in China. It's a good idea to make sure laborers have enough rest, but as a [former] Chinese national and one of full Chinese ethnicity, I should say that the work ethic there is so strong relative to many North American and European countries that this is more of a non-issue. I don't know, but have Slashdotters heard much about "Asian parents"? As a high-schooler, that concept is one of the most frequently repeated ones in my [predominantly Asian] high school. One last point is that this article is ridiculously late, but that's to be expected.
    • by NexFlamma ( 919608 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @02:58AM (#15939442) Homepage
      While it's true that there is a certain cultural bias to work harder in many Asian cultures, one has to question whether it's an inherent trait, or if it's the result of living in a part of the world that is often exploited for the good of wealthier nations.

      Do Asian people work harder because they have a much higher work ethic than Westerners, or do they have a much higher work ethic because the only jobs available for them are ones in which they have to work insane amounts of hours with little pay in order to provide Americans with luxury items (such as iPods)?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by JimDaGeek ( 983925 )

        Do Asian people work harder because they have a much higher work ethic than Westerners, or do they have a much higher work ethic because the only jobs available for them are ones in which they have to work insane amounts of hours with little pay in order to provide Americans with luxury items (such as iPods)?

        This is just silly. Do a little studying of Asian cultures. For example, you will find that for thousands of years, the Japanese have always had very strict (can't think of a better word right now

      • by nexarias ( 944986 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @05:00AM (#15939715)
        While it's true that there is a certain cultural bias to work harder in many Asian cultures, one has to question whether it's an inherent trait, or if it's the result of living in a part of the world that is often exploited for the good of wealthier nations.


        I just want to point out that you're offering a misleading frame of two alternatives -- strong work ethic as innate character or third-world conditions. It's actually more like the asian culture, or the asian spirit that forges this sort of hard working mentality. However, it's probably true that the poverty, massive lower-class (farmer population) and the dire living conditions select for the dilligent. Then, that sort of mentality is drilled into descendants.

        An example of cultural effect would be Japan: Japanese salary men don't live in conditions anywhere near third-world nations; nor are they exploited by first-world nations. Their working hours are legendary, just like their suicide rates. I've heard that it comes from their historical roots in the samurai, always chasing for perfection..

        The hard-working stereotype of oriental asians in the West is also explainable by the fact that immigrants or visitors (like students) to the West are only a specific subset of the asian population. Immigrants are usually middle-class or higher, with well-educated parents who likely came through with solid work ethics in their earlier life. Foreign asian students who go over to Canadian/US universities are usually rather bright (or very rich). As a result, the stereotype conceived is probably not at all a close representative of the general asian population.

        • Don't attribute to "culture" what should be attributed to history. Every cultural feature is the product of a historical process, and there's nothing "innate" about them.

          Without belaboring the point, I'd note that at one time, the work ethic was referred to as the Protestant work ethic. Mass leisure society is something more recent.
      • >or if it's the result of living in a part of the world
        >that is often exploited for the good of wealthier nations.

        Do you actually think that people in that part of the world weren't
        being exploited before wealthier nations came along?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Is it really a non-issue? A friend of mine from university (who's just recently come here to Australia from China) told me that in China you "work to live", meaning that if you don't work you don't live. There's no such thing as leisure time, and there's no such thing as quitting your stressful job to find a better one (which I did recently). It sounds to me like rather than "wanting" to work that hard (which is my interpretation of "strong work ethic"), Chinese workers *must* work that hard just to get eno
    • by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @03:28AM (#15939493)
      I should say that the work ethic there is so strong relative to many North American and European countries that this is more of a non-issue. I don't know, but have Slashdotters heard much about "Asian parents"?

      I live in Hong Kong, I've visited Chinese factories. There is nothing about "work ethic" as perhaps practised by Chinese immigrants trying to get ahead. Chinese factories are the prototypical sweatshops; many would easily pass for Dickensian "Satanic mills". When there's a deadline, the staff are told they have compulsory, unpaid overtime. The doors are often locked. (There have been many tragedies when fires break out and the exits are all locked.) Wages are often withheld. Troublemakers (eg, union organisers) may be arrested by police or just beaten up.

      As a high-schooler, that concept is one of the most frequently repeated ones in my [predominantly Asian] high school.

      Thank your parents for your opportunity. Few Chinese have your luck.

    • by rm999 ( 775449 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @03:40AM (#15939517)
      working hard != superior life

      Most people intuitively know this. Working *too* much is a personality disorder. The fact that you see it in
      Chinese-American culture does not necessarily mean it is inborn in the Chinese race.

      What I am getting at is that you are racist (even if it's your own race) if you think this is OK due to the fact that they are Chinese. The fact that people work this hard should not be something to be proud of, and should not have to be justified.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Sinbios ( 852437 )
        Pointing out inherent cultural values != racism To you working your posh 9 to 5 job it might appear to be a lot of work, but many Chinese still remember the days when one woke at dawn and slept at midnight just to ensure they have enough food for the next day. 60 hour weeks are practically a blessing.
      • by NexFlamma ( 919608 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @04:40AM (#15939669) Homepage
        "What I am getting at is that you are racist (even if it's your own race) if you think this is OK due to the fact that they are Chinese. The fact that people work this hard should not be something to be proud of, and should not have to be justified."

        Not something to be proud of? Here's an example for you; a man owns a store about a block away from my house. He's Korean and since the store belongs to his family, the only employees are himself, his wife and his daughter. The store stays open 24 hours a day, meaning they each have to work an 8 hour shift every day of the week (or, more likely, someone has to work quite a bit more than that).

        I had a conversation with him about a month ago about how hard I thought this must be, but he disagreed. He was terribly proud of how his whole family banded together to run the store and work such ridiculous hours in order to keep it going. His 16 year old daughter (a high school student) spent every day working, as well as studying and they had nothing but adoration and pride for her.

        Where are you from that tremendous work ethic is not something to be admired?
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Daengbo ( 523424 )
          Working for your own business cannot be compared to working those same conditions for others. Every business owner works hours similar to those you've stated. I used to worh 3-4 months straight for my business. People who work convenience stores near me open at 7 and close 11 to midbight every day, seven days a week, with only the owner working. Obviously, they find it better for them than walking out and finding a job in the community, for whatever the motivation.
          • That wasn't my argument. I was refuting the Parent's idea that saying that the almost cliche tremendous work ethic of Asian people isn't something to be proud of, and that saying that they have this great work ethic is somehow racist. You didn't read the context of my post, did you?

            By the way, did your whole family work for 3-4 straight months, 24 hours a day, alongside you?
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Daengbo ( 523424 )
              I read the entire thread slowly from the beginning. Thank you.

              Not something to be proud of? Here's an example for you; a man owns a store about a block away from my house. He's Korean and since the store belongs to his family, the only employees are himself, his wife and his daughter. The store stays open 24 hours a day, meaning they each have to work an 8 hour shift every day of the week (or, more likely, someone has to work quite a bit more than that).

              Since the discussion was in the context of being
          • sleep! (Score:3, Funny)

            by rajafarian ( 49150 )
            I used to worh 3-4 months straight for my business.

            Good God, Daengbo, what did you do to keep awake?

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by madaxe42 ( 690151 )
              Modafinil. It kicks ass. I jointly own a web development company, and we run several very high profile sites. I have slept 6 hours this week (we launched a site wednesday, it got dugg thursday, we've been worked off our feet since).
        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 19, 2006 @08:20AM (#15940151)
          His daughter is lucky, he's probably already lined up several hard-working men to marry her to.

          I, on the other hand worked one job through highschool, two jobs through fulltime college, and all I got from it was a degree, a 50-hour-a-week job and two discoveries:
          1) women look at you funny when your idea of a romantic date is a moonlit stroll through the park at 3AM since everything is closed when you get out of work.
          2) now that I'm out of college, the only women I can find to date are the local drunks hanging out at the bar.

          Leisure time is more than just world of warcraft, it's having a life.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by theLOUDroom ( 556455 )
          Where are you from that tremendous work ethic is not something to be admired?

          America, a first-world country where many of us realize that slaving your life away at a menial job is not the end all and be all of existence.

          His 16 year old daughter (a high school student) spent every day working, as well as studying and they had nothing but adoration and pride for her.

          Did it ever occur to you that 8 hours of work per day might be affecting her performance at school? That they might be tranding off her
          • by MoneyT ( 548795 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @10:39AM (#15940679) Journal
            America, a first-world country where many of us realize that slaving your life away at a menial job is not the end all and be all of existence.

            Or conversely, America, a first-world country where many of us don't believe that any job is worth putting serious effort and time into and no one has any pride in the work they do any more because their material toys have become the end all and be all of existance.

            Did it ever occur to you that 8 hours of work per day might be affecting her performance at school? That they might be tranding off her long-term success and happiness for a short term financial gain?

            Without knowing any more of the situation, but knowing similar people I would lay very good odds that no only is she at the top of her class but she will be far more wildly succesful by the time she graduates college (assuming she goes) than 85% of her class mates.
            • by Shajenko42 ( 627901 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @11:19AM (#15940834)
              Or conversely, America, a first-world country where many of us don't believe that any job is worth putting serious effort and time into and no one has any pride in the work they do any more because their material toys have become the end all and be all of existance.
              Or, because we see that hard work is often not rewarded, and people are laid off for reasons that have nothing to do with how much they put into the job.

              You can only get ripped off by companies so much before you start doing the minimum necessary to keep the job.
    • I am also sure that people from times go by in Western countries, lets say 19th century, would claim today that they had a stronger work ethic.

      Did they have a better life? In a society were children used to work in mining, women had no rights in regards to pregnancy and men were suppossed to work 14 or 16 hour shifts, I may venture that their lifes were crap.

      Stronger work ethic? Maybe (do people in these "stron work ethic" situations have a choice?).

        Better life? Doubt it.
    • by mrbooze ( 49713 )
      I certainly wouldn't claim necessarily that Americans work more than the Chinese on average, but they certainly work more than the majority of Europe and other industrialized countries. US workers, I believe, still rank near or at the bottom in amount of vacation time taken per year.

      I *wish* I could work only as much as my European co-workers do.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 955301 ( 209856 )
      Thanks for the stereotype, but that isn't a national work ethic, it's a class one. I've never heard of a lazy American farmer, nor a slack Canadian oil worker. I have yet to mean a Mexican immagrant labour worker who quit there job and walked out. Don't believe everything you are told repeatedly. Usually that's a sign of a form of control or propoganda.

      Oh, and of the Asian coworkers I have had, only 1 of them actually knew what the heck they were doing, and he was Asian American.
  • 60 hours = normal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @02:38AM (#15939394)
    Holy crap. Apple consider 60 hours a week normal?
    Companies are pushing the human rights back into the dark ages. Where will it end?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Kreigaffe ( 765218 )
      heck, the company i work for, right here in the US, considers that 'normal'. Of course, we do get payed 20 hours overtime, and they don't call it normal.. they call it 'mandatory overtime'. Hypothetically I suppose you can refuse, but I bet you'd get real far doing that amiright? The salaried employees get effedinthe-a, but they always do when it comes to overtime.
      ask some code monkeys who get slaved to desks for 60 hours a week about it, too. I'm sure they'll tell you their normal work week was.. 60 ho
      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )
        Yep. I'll say it again: Companies are pushing human rights back into the dark ages. Even in the US.
        • by jcr ( 53032 )
          Companies are pushing human rights back into the dark ages.

          Dude, put down the Chomsky and look around you. Capital investment raises the productivity of labor, which is why we have the standard of living that we do. Would you trade places with a laborer in the Socialist Paradises of Cuba or North Korea?

          The standard of living in China is undergoing a rapid rise, because they're in the process of giving up all that commie bullshit. A lot of Chinese are working longer hours than you or I do, but at least t
      • I have never worked overtime in a regular basis in my life. Ever.

        But I am progressing on my carrier fine, TVM.

        The difference is that in those horrendous countries with social policies you have protection against abusive employers that pull the "mandatory" overtime bullshit.

        In Mexico the working week is 40 hours, in Europe between 35 and 40. Nobody gives a second thought to people working exactly just that, and many companies actively encourage that you actually do not work more than that.

        Most EU countries a
        • Most EU countries are more productive thatn US workers

          I don't know where you got that idea. US workers are still by far the most productive in the world (source [statistics.gov.uk]). Now, don't confuse productivity -or- standard of living with quality of life. In QOL, I understand that the US is behind other countries.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      That's not quite that bad ... in China you work on Saturdays as well as part of Sundays ...
    • China is a developing country--rapidly developing, but nowhere close to the West in per capita GDP. It might not be nice for those of us sitting in air-conditioned Western homes and offices to think about, but in some parts of the world what we consider a normal workload is a luxury. (The 40 hour workweek is premised on the idea of dividing the five day workweek into equal parts work, leisure, and sleep, assuming "leisure" includes such activities as food and family.) It's often hard for middle-class Wester
      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )
        >> some parts of the world what we consider a normal workload is a luxury. (The 40 hour workweek ...and in France the normal work week is usually 35 hours with 5 or 6 weeks paid vacation a year. I guess the US is still a developing country too :-)

      • by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @03:33AM (#15939503)
        It's often hard for middle-class Westerners to grasp, but it's the exception for humans not to work constantly for needed resources,

        No, quite untrue. Developed countries working hours have increased markedly in the last 50 years. The average hunter-gatherer had to work maybe 20 hours a week to have a comfortable lifestyle. However, third-world labourers get both long hours and low pay as their countries industrialise, maybe the next generation will get a share of the wealth. Now they're just working harder than their parents and barely surviving.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Americano ( 920576 )

          The average hunter-gatherer had to work maybe 20 hours a week to have a comfortable lifestyle.

          Excuse me? A "comfortable" lifestyle? This assumes that you call dying by your mid-30's, constantly foraging and hunting for food, living in temporary shelters or caves, and other such primitive accoutrements "comfortable" living.

          Personally, I'm okay with working 40 - 60 hours a week, if it means I get all the benefits of modern living, such as a car, a mattress, a place of my own, electricity, running water

          • Re:60 hours = normal (Score:5, Interesting)

            by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @04:15AM (#15939602)
            Excuse me? A "comfortable" lifestyle? This assumes that you call dying by your mid-30's, constantly foraging and hunting for food, living in temporary shelters or caves, and other such primitive accoutrements "comfortable" living.

            No it doesn't. Yeah, life was tough, but not as bad as you say. I can't give you sources, this is stuff I read years ago, so doubt if you want; but many hunter gatherer societies had a pretty easy time, few diseases because of low population density, healthy diet, and while infant mortality was higher than ours, once past infancy they could expect to live to their 50s. (Better than Russians these days...) But how easy their life was wasn't my major point, it was your assertion than the number of hours worked has always been as high as it is now. That is quite untrue. Even agricutural societies usually had times of heavy work, like harvest or planting, balanced by weeks or months of comparative leisure (unless of course they were drafted by the aristocracy to join an army, build a pyramid, etc).

        • by jcr ( 53032 )
          Developed countries working hours have increased markedly in the last 50 years.

          Generally in line with increases in our tax burdens.

          -jcr
      • Mexico, for example, has had a maximium working week of 40 hours (unless you pay overtime or are contracted as a consultant. in which case your rates are much higer) since 1917.

        During that period it experienced high rates of development comparable to any of the Asian tigers (specially between 1945-1970 period). 6%, 7% or 8% growth rates wer not uncommon.

        We should also refer to the German economic miracle during the same period. It is well known that German workers enjoy a highly protective system under whic
    • by pimpimpim ( 811140 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @04:47AM (#15939691)
      Indeed, shocking! And how can something excessive from 60 hours still support a healthy work-life balance?

      From another point, these people are probably building together your precision apple hardware. One might wonder why apple has no reputation for the reliability of its hardware.

      Actually this reminds me of the story I heard from a factory owner that moved from korea to china. Labour there is cheap, but the education was a bit lower, and the people worked sloppier (no wonder, how is your work concentration after 10 hours). In the end he needed 3 times the amount of employees and had a doubled amount of faulty products that had to be discarded before leaving the factory.

      The solution to this is higher education of the chinese people, which is luckily for them hapenning (although the amount of places in university is till lower than the amount of people that want and could get in). But in the end, this will mean they get more expensive as employees and the benefit of outsourcing to china will be much smaller. By that time Chinese companies will probably be able to get a big part of the marketshare in the world, leaving the original companies in troubles. I won't mind too much as long as I can still buy quality products in stead of crap, no matter where it's made.

      A similar thing happened to Ireland. Labour there was very cheap about a decade ago. IT and car companies went there (AMD, some memory factory etc.) and in due time, wages went up. Now, the movement is more towards eastern europe, but won't be a matter of time before the same will happen there.

      I don't oppose all this outsourcing when it comes to better living conditions for the people in countries who can use the improvement. What I do oppose is the fact that products made by outsourcing are still as expensive as before, and the gain goes only to a very small point of people. Not to the costumers, not to the employees, but to management and stockholders. This will eventually widen the gap between poor and rich worldwide, which is not something we need at the moment.

    • Holy crap. Apple consider 60 hours a week normal? Companies are pushing the human rights back into the dark ages. Where will it end?

      My guess is that it won't go much beyond 168 hours a week...

    • by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @05:19AM (#15939751)
      '' Holy crap. Apple consider 60 hours a week normal? ''

      We don't know what Apple considers normal. We know that Apple is willing to interfere with the business of a supplier if that supplier makes it workforce work more than 60 hours a week. Next time you have to go to a hospital, ask the doctor who is treating you how many hours a week he or she is working, just to get a bit of perspective. Or maybe you have a look on the internet how many hours employees at EA have been working to supply you with the latest video games.

      Most importantly, instead of reading the BBC page (or without bothering to read anything), go to the Apple website where you find Apple's report that this is all based on: You will find that the highest number of complaints by employees is against the fact that sometimes there isn't enough overtime!
    • Apple has done this before, right? They used to have t-shirts in the old Mackintosh camp that said something like, "90 hours / week and loving it".

      T-shirt (sweatshirt) attesting to this [folklore.org]. (wonder if the shirt was made in a sweat shop...)
    • Why 40 hour week = 5 days of work per week * 8 hours per day is good while 60 hour week = 6 day of work per week * 10 hours per day is bad? Isn't the line always a bit arbitrary? We know a human cannot function well if required to work 16 hours per day. But, it is hard to say whether 12, 10, 8, or even 6 hours is too much. The two days-off per week practice is even more so. Do you think, for example, farmers work 5-day a week? If so, do the cattle go fasting for 2 days every week?

      Officially, most develo
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Shivetya ( 243324 )
      never mind the fact that many farmers across the globe work longer hours. Never mind the fact that many people voluntarily work longer hours in similar jobs. Never mind the fact that many people leading small businesses work the same or more.

      Look, working more than 40 hours to many people is the "Norm". They have goals and are willing to spend their time in pursuit of them. You have to understand what an aberration the 40 hour work week really is. It simply makes no sense in some industries; not saying
  • Wow (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 19, 2006 @02:43AM (#15939412)
    Famously, if you opened up the data fork of the System File in Mac OS 7.1 through 7.5 in a hex editor, you would find the string "Help! Help! We're being held prisoner in a system software factory!"

    Who knew that was for real? :O
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by noidentity ( 188756 )
      Haha, I just opened the 7.6.1 system's data fork (nothing interesting in 9.2.2) and found this (names comma-delimited to avoid Slashdot's restrictions):

      1983-96 Apple Computer Inc. All Rights Reserved.

      Mercenaries hit the factory and freed the prisoners.

      On contract:
      Wendy Chiou, Doug Clark, Mike Crawford, Michael Dautermann, Dave Evans, Nitin Ganatra, Darren Litzinger, Jim Luther, Dave Lyons, Jim Mensch, Alex Rangel, Steve Stephenson, John Yen

      Freed, armed, and dangerous:
      Eric3 Anderson, Clinton Bauder, Derrick
  • In china (Score:5, Interesting)

    by resonte ( 900899 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @02:52AM (#15939429)
    I'm currently living/working in Guangzhou China () for my summer holiday.

    I've noticed in the factory here you are expected to work overtime not by your boss but by your peers. It is common to see most people work 1 or 2 hours overtime, sometimes until 9pm. I end up feeling guilty if I leave at the offical time (5pm) because I am normally the only one to do so.

    But you've got to take into account the population density and lack of social security, the wages here aren't the best, and if you don't perform well enough you can easily get replaced, so you've got to make the most of what you get, due to this it's become the cultural behaviour.

    Though wide differences between wages is common here, the IT supervisor can earn more than 10 times than the IT staff even though his work isn't that much difficult.

    • So is work as a foreign (white) supervisor in China easy to obtain?
    • It is certainly a culture thing. You will find the same thing in Korea that if you leave before your manager does it can be a sign you are not working hard enough (not sure if it is still the case).

      In Ireland if your working late its a sign of one of the following.
      a) You where dossing during the day and need to finish up.
      b) You came in late.
      c) You have a manger who is incapable of scheduling properly.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Daengbo ( 523424 )
        From my experience working in Korea, the workers often stay for mandatory unpaid overtime, and it is mostly due to reason c. Managers have no incentive to clean their shit up because the society says that everyone has to work overtime "for the good of the company." This is concept which didn't work out in America.
  • by Aaron England ( 681534 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @02:59AM (#15939443)
    With increasing manning shortages and prolonged deployments, many service members find themselves working 60 hours a week at home and 72 hours deployed. It's the new normal.
  • by physicsphairy ( 720718 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @03:06AM (#15939450) Homepage
    Sixty hours is only bad if you're a lazy pampered American like me and your number one concern is having enough time to level your character in World of Warcraft.

    If instead your number one concern is that your family doesn't starve, or making enough money to emmigrate from the oppressive regime in which you live, and the amount of money you make is proportionate to the number of hours you work, you would generally like to work as many hours as humanly possible. I knew at least one guy (in America) who used pull over a hundred hours a week working at an oil rig. It was quite dangerous to boot, but his reason for doing it was just the extra padding in his bank account, not because he had an emaciated wife and toddler back at home.

    The last thing people in developing nations need is you telling them that they can't have a job except at 10 bucks an hour, or that they can't work for more than 40 hours a week, or that it's only legal for companies to come in and provide them with a way of obtaining food, medicine, and education (i.e. money) if they also provide full health care, dental, and college tuition for the kids.

    I'm not saying to give companies free reign. Some things are clearly morally despicable. But frankly speaking, you are not helping these people by being indignant when they are not afforded the same accomodations that you are. That is the one asset they have that allows them to compete for jobs against Joe Westerner (whose parents could afford to get him quality education and is the preferable employee at comparable wages).

    Don't let corporations get away with complete crap, but please don't have people starve for the sake of your armchair idealism either.

    • by kfg ( 145172 ) * on Saturday August 19, 2006 @03:30AM (#15939496)
      . . . please don't have people starve for the sake of your armchair idealism either.

      It's the new White Man's Burden, borne stoicly by people who have never had to actually fend for themselves a single day in their lives.

      KFG
    • The last thing people in developing nations need is you telling them that they can't have a job except at 10 bucks an hour, or that they can't work for more than 40 hours a week, or that it's only legal for companies to come in and provide them with a way of obtaining food, medicine, and education (i.e. money) if they also provide full health care, dental, and college tuition for the kids.

      In this case it isn't about forcing other governments to adopt labor laws that prevent people from working or chase away
    • by polar red ( 215081 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @03:42AM (#15939522)
      That idealism tells me a person should be able to sustain himself on a 40hr a week job, and if he doesn't, his pay is not enough.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by kfg ( 145172 ) *
        Q.E.D.

        Your idealism is based on certain cultural concepts which may not be reflected by reality. Reality always wins, because it doesn't give a flying fuck about your idealism.

        The world is not London or San Jose (places which can, in the first place, only exist by virtue of fairly large wage disparities).

        Try some examination of reality. Strip down to your skivvies and wander off into the woods for a couple of weeks. See how you do by refusing to work more than 40 hours. If you are of the American middle cla
        • "Strip down to your skivvies and wander off into the woods for a couple of weeks. See how you do by refusing to work more than 40 hours."

          Well, sure, if you try to set hours for yourself you might not do so well. But as has been pointed out earlier in this discussion, and as I've heard elsewhere, the hunter-gatherers "worked" something around 20 hours per week. So if you know what you're doing you might not do so badly. We have to work more total hours on the whole because we have to not only work to feed
          • by kfg ( 145172 ) * on Saturday August 19, 2006 @05:14AM (#15939742)
            But as has been pointed out earlier in this discussion, and as I've heard elsewhere, the hunter-gatherers "worked" something around 20 hours per week.

            You've never lived as a hunter-gatherer. I have. Yes, it's true that they actually have much more leisure time than people in industrial nations. What you may not realize is that their leisure time is typically spent productively. Idle hands are the devil's plaything.

            We spin and weave for a hobby. They spin and weave because if they don't they go naked. It is not uncommon to see women spinning while walking over to a neighbor's house.

            The best living I've ever had though was in a semihunter gatherer society, but with just enough independent money that I didn't have to go out in the fishing boats. Wealth is having more people working for you than you have to work for; and that's the way it is. "Western" wealth is built entirely on large groups of people working for it while providing comparitively little back.

            Of course the fishermen, while going out and laboring, not to mention risking their lives, thought about what they were doing as mainly a social event, getting together with the guys and doing "guy things." Not "work."

            But if you wish to lift them up to you, I'm afraid you'll have to lower yourself to reachability.

            It seems to me that we may only really be "wired" to work, say, 20 hours per week on a sustained basis.

            Sounds like a bit of an overworked hell to me really, if by "work" you mean "job." If by "work" you mean something like "directed activity" I'd go out of my fucking skull with bordom. I "work" more than that for entertainment.

            KFG
      • by jcr ( 53032 )
        If his pay is not enough, then he should increase the value he offers in the marketplace. This can be done through education, investment in a business, etc, etc.

        -jcr
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Joe Westerner has been taught history where the same conditions being inflicted on far eastern workers were inflicted on his ancestors in the name of efficiency and profit but can see that efficiency and profit were not sacrificed (and in fact corporate profits have skyrocketed thanks to people having disposable income and leisure time to spend it) when those appalling conditions were swept away. If these workers had the money to buy their own homes, and all the goods to furnish it just think how much money
  • Good Effort (Score:4, Insightful)

    by catwh0re ( 540371 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @03:38AM (#15939511)
    I think their(apple's) investigation is a good effort from a company which ultimately only has the ability to cancel the contract with their chinese vendor(these factories are not apple run, and these factories produce products for more companies than just apple computer.)

    Considering that many other products that people purchase from china are made from labour which has not be placed under the same workers-rights rigor that apple outlays in their vendor contract, this is a good case of a global company doing what they can to ensure adequet working standards in a country that is rife with human exploitation. You can almost decide with certainty that something you own has been produced as a result of human labour exploitation, occurances often go by without the knowledge of the even the staff member; There is a lot of difficulty in ensuring proper work practices in these mega factories (many staff demand excessive overtime hours to get ahead of the rat race.) Take for example that this factory assembles iPods, there is no way of knowing, without investigation, if the screens being used in the assembly of the iPods are made in another factory where labour issues are more common.

    So while others may pick at Apple's summary report for leaving areas grey, I still feel this is by far a more advanced effort in ensuring factory workers rights than what many other companies do. (Particularly the fashion and small parts industries.)

    • Is it good enough? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sjofi ( 307114 )
      I think people expect Apple to have better ethics than most other companies - their CEO is kind of hippie and the company frequently utilizes save-the-earth public figures such as Bono in its propaganda. No-one expects Dells and Walmarts to behave, but for Apple this kind of publicity just puts it among other greedy multinationals, an image it has so far for some odd reason avoided.
      • but for Apple this kind of publicity just puts it among other greedy multinationals

        Uh, no.

        Apple has guidelines which a contractor violated in certain places. Apple doesn't own the contractor and they don't have direct management but the contracts do require a specific minimum standards of treatment which the contractor violated. I'm not sure any other tech company any such guidelines for their contractors.
  • "You just work" I for one welcome our new Apple Overseers!
  • by atarione ( 601740 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @03:55AM (#15939548)
    it's like my worst nightmare

    oh they meant building them

    well that is almost as bad
  • Me too!!! (Score:2, Informative)

    by scolen2 ( 956819 )
    I use to work 70+ hour weeks at Apple in Cupertino, and I see no reports about my situation! lol :-)
  • For more information, take a look at Apple's report (courtesy of AppleInsider) [appleinsider.com], and AppleInsider's analysis [appleinsider.com].
  • The norms in the U.S., Britain and other places DO NOT necessarily equal the norms elsewhere in the world. They always seem to leave out the fact that the cost of living is extremely low in these places because the consumers are not subject to getting gouged on everything that they buy the way we are here in the Western countries.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Which would be correct if they were being paid a living wage.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by so.dan ( 939602 )
      Seriously, though... the problem is the hourly salary _compared_with_ their cost of living. Their hourly salary is so little, that _even_with_ working 60 hrs/wk they live several people to a room, and have, I suspect, unreasonably little in terms of possessions. No one is saying that they should earn as much as we do in the West, for then - you're right - their standard of living would be extremely high, given their cost of living. However, _given_their_cost_of_living_, does it really seem to you that t
  • Apple is slowly becoming the new Microsoft.

    Woz would be spinning in his grave if it weren't for that whole "not being dead" thing...

    *blinks*
  • "Apple debunks most of the unsubstantial accusations"... oh, wait - that wouldn't make a headline our beautiful days of excesional sensationalism replacing old-fashioned journalism so quickly.
  • Yes, but.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by crhylove ( 205956 ) <rhy@leperkhanz.com> on Saturday August 19, 2006 @05:13AM (#15939736) Homepage Journal
    While I agree that this is an issue, I can only wonder about whether Dell, Gateway, and every other PC manufacturer is guilty of the same. I can't imagine the motherboard factories, hard drive factories, video card factories, RAM factories, case factories, and sound card factories don't use some kind of extraordinarily cheap and exploitive work force at at least one of their plants or offices. I'm against it anywhere, and against not staying competitive in the local labor market with healthy work environments as well. I'm all about philanthropy, but singling out one of probably thousands of manufacturies guilty of this seems wierd.

    "I mean, how far the rabbit hole do you wanna go here?"*

    rhY

    *Quote stolen shamelessly from: http://www.myspace.com/wtc_7 [myspace.com]
  • I will gladly trade in my old iPod for one of those Chinese women that work in their factories!

    I'm a horrible human being for saying that, aren't I?
  • History as an RTS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daemonenwind ( 178848 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @05:55AM (#15939812)
    How many of you have played an RTS game?

    No one gets to start off with a modern industrial complex and a space program. You start out with a few poor villagers. Then, those villagers work at building up a Civilization, stopping at points which involve a fair amount of labor.

    There was a time when the USA was also a dumping ground for cheap labor. Our grandparents through great-great-grandparents worked very hard at dirty jobs for long hours.

    Then someone got the "Organized Labor", "Industrial Revolution", "Clean Air Act" upgrades. Those laid the groundwork for the "40-hr Work Week", "Military-Industrial Complex" and "Civic Green Space" upgrades. That, in turn, unlocked "Space Program", which allowed us to advance our Civilization to the Information Age.

    The US has managed to do a pretty good job assembling a Rush strategy to catch up to civs that got a headstart on us.

    China is turtling right now....give it time, it'll get its upgrades.
  • Employees confirmed in interviews that they could decline overtime requests without penalty.

    It's worth noting that sometimes companies like these will order their employees to lie about forced overtime, with the consequence of firing them if they tell the truth.

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