Might Kathy-Lee-Gifford have a new promotional concept to get behind? It certainly looks that way. According to various news reports -- including this one out of Forbes -- it looks as if Apple's famous iPod is being manufactured by a supplier, Forxconn Electronics, whose employees would need to work at least a few months to be able to purchase the product they’re making. According the story, "It all started with a recent U.K. newspaper report, which said that workers at a Chinese iPod factory were working long hours, for little pay, and in "slave conditions". They were said to have been earning $50 a month (or about $1.60 a day) while working 15-hour shifts. The reporters visited two plants in the crowded country, one close to Shanghai and the other near Hong Kong. One, described as iPod City, was said to have 200,000 workers who lived in dormitories on the site." In my view, while the suggested labor rates seem on the low-side for a coastal part of China, they do not seem outlandishly cheap to me. Also, the 15 hour per day working conditions, while not the Chinese norm, are certainly not unheard of either. Still, Apple is not Wal-Mart, and I'd wager its customers want to know that the manufacturer is not exploiting its workers. Perhaps Apple should offer a "fair trade" version of its products to cater to this crowd. Given Steve Job's world-class marketing skills, I can almost see it already.
The hat-tip for this piece goes to Pierre Mitchell.