James Fallows, a writer for The Atlantic, recently spent some time poking around the Foxconn plants and dormitories in the Longhua area of Shenzhen, China. These plants are where iPads and iPhones come to life, and have been the subject of scrutiny from many Western writers who believe that the company mistreats employees.
Fallows felt the need to point out the “infamous suicide nets” that were installed after a few Foxconn employees jumped from the plant rooftops in past years, and expressed surprise that the employees actually spend time doing such mundane things reading newspapers and relaxing. Apparently his image of the factories and dormitories at Foxconn was that he’d find staffers being beaten and working in dark, damp factories.
Instead, he found clean, modern offices; cramped, but well-designed dormitory rooms where a quarter of the 220,000 workers at Longhua receive free housing; and two beautiful swimming pools by the dorms. That’s not all; he shows photos of employees looking at a big-screen HDTV offered at a discount, and shopping at “Flying Tiger,” a company store where employees can buy phones and cameras.
Fallows admits in the third installment of his photo essay that, “I’ve seen enough other Chinese factories, rural schools, villages and so on to recognize that these are on the higher end of the spectrum.” Sure, the factories and facilities aren’t up to Western standards, but they’re not the hellholes that so many journalists seem to expect.