Though she spends virtually every waking hour fitting screens onto Apple iPads, this Foxconn workerâ€” identified by CNN only as "Ms. Chen"â€” had never actually seen a working model in person. At the on-site dormitory where she lives with tens of thousand of other workers in Chengdu, China, no one can afford an iPad and would hardly have much time to enjoy one even if they could.
Ms. Chen regularly works 60 hours a week for Foxconn, but CNN was able to snag her for an interview for the price of anonymity and a trip to a local restaurant (a rarity for her). Foxconn produces devices for a large number of leading technology companies including Sony and Dell, but Apple, recently crowned the world's most valuable company, has received the bulk of scrutiny over the manufacturer's labor practices.
After a string of 10 worker suicides in 2010, Foxconn increased employee compensation and began offering on-site counseling and healthcare. Apple, for its part, says it requires every manufacturer it works with to meet a certain standard of care for employees. If violations are found, the offending company is forced to correct them or face losing its contract.
Shown an iPad for the first time, Ms. Chen seems to be delighted by the device's user interface. "I want one," she blurts out at one point, adding that maybe one day she will be able to afford to buy one of her own. Currently, she makes less than $1 an hour.