Slipup at HP’s Chinese Manufacturing Facility Gives a Rare Glimpse Into Life on the Assembly Line

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Jox

A suspicious person might say that HP allowed this "slip-up" in the hope of deflecting any serious scrutiny.

Not me, of course. Someone else.

-Jox

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briansnj

And here we have coal mining companies trying to tell you everything is safe and clean...while the workers get sick, are overworked and lose their lives or limbs and can barely survive on that wage.

Chinese factory...US coal mine...it's all slave labor.

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szore

It's called work. You ought to try it sometime.

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szore

sorry

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wintercoder

There you go again, reflecting on "your resume and life story" to desparage others.

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szore

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy.

Cookies and ice cream for everybody!

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chipmunkofdoom2

Yeah, $2 a day seems like a pittance (and truly, it is) to peple from an industrialized world, but you must consider the alternative.

The per-capita income of Rural Chinese is around 7,000 Yuan, or $1,100 a YEAR (see China's stats below). That's probably made farming land they rent (COMPLETELY by hand), working from sun up to sun down 6 days a week, and selling their produce at market the other day. Compared to $1,100 a year, $2 an hour works out to almost $6k a year if they work 6 days a week in a relatively mundane assembly line. To many Chinese, this is a huge step up.. which is why people desperately want those jobs. You have to remember, most of China really still is disparagingly poor. Remember when Foxconn (I think, can't remember for sure) opened up that new factory and had HUGE interest from the Chinese people? The people are there because $2/hr is damn good wage for unskilled Chinese laborers.

Yes, it is despicable.. they would pay an American 10x that to do the same work, and it's a great show of how greedy corporations are. But at the end of the day, it's still a business. The Chinese laborers are paid what their labor is worth. Because it is a poor country, companies can get away with paying so little. Instead of focusing on how little they get now, think of the future. How long do you think the Chinese will be content with $2 an hour? Indeed, Chinese salaries are already going up. Eventually, the Chinese will realize the bargaining chip they have.. our modern technology is built on their labor, almost exclusively. Soon, the labor that builds all our electronics may not be 5%-10% of the overall cost of the device.

Sure, the Chinese get paid very little, but let's have a little less sympathy for them. One day (maybe soon) they will realize the power they have and the cost of all consumer electronics made in mainland China could as much as double. Then, you may not feel so sorry for them.

http://www.stats.gov.cn/english/pressrelease/t20120130_402787464.htm

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praetor_alpha

I'm pretty sure that these spammers get paid even less.

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Havokr505

wow, im jealous of there job, thats 1000times better than working at a grocery store. there alloud to talk to each other or atleast thats what i hear in the background

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Engelsstaub

Doesn't look like a bad job. As for what I think about Made in China: what choice do you have?

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Incognito

That job doesn't look that bad - it's the same as assembly line work in the USA. Sure it's boring and mundane but I don't see horrible work conditions unless they're putting in an excessive amount of hours (which we cannot determine from this video). You can't judge the US equivalent of $2.00 because we don't know the cost of living there - it might the equivalent of $15.00/hr here in the USA. We would really need way more info before judging. I did Data Entry 8 hours a day when I first graduated high school and it was way worse than that job and I was only making $5/hr then (mid 80's).

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xmichaelx

I did factory work to put myself through college. It pretty much looked just like this, only I was paid $6.50/hour.

Those who think this looks bad have apparently never done blue collar work.

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dentaku

I can relate to what John Pombrio said.

My job is FAR more physically demanding than this but it's not much less repetitive. That's what it's like in manufacturing or "processing" jobs even here in North America.
It doesn't look terribly different than all the fish processing jobs people do along the East Coast except fish plant workers have to do it standing on concrete floors around very dangerous machinery with no set schedule or guarantee of steady work.

Lifetime office workers and many "city people" look at footage like this and see a horrible job but the rest of us know it's not a job that's particularly bad.

The problem with these jobs is when it turns out the workers are being taken advantage of by either being paid less that is reasonable in their part of the world (what DOES $2/hr get you in a Chinese village) OR when the workers live in tiny rooms on-site and rarely ever get a chance to go anywhere else.

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Suijen

That nets them about 500 rmb for a 40 hour week. Add that up for a month and it's about 2000 rmb, a decent sum for just a high school graduate when a college grad could net 3000 rmb out of college. Housing and food is probably already included. A new bike (pretty poor quality but new) costs about 200 RMB. Rent is difficult to say, as a lot depends on location. For groceries, for one person, 200 RMB should be enough. A can of coke is 2 rmb.

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KenLV

Actually, the average factory worker in China works far beyond the “legal” 49 hour work week. 55-60 is more in line with what they need to do to survive. Also, as Justin stated in the article, he/she would be LUCKY to earn $2.00/hr. The average city worked wage is actually $1.36 (Y8.65/hr). In big name factories (like HP and Apple who are actually concerned about blowback) workers earn a bit more - with an average monthly income of about $400 (Y2550).

To put that in perspective, on average a one bedroom apt will run you about $350 (Y2225)/month. If you are living in a major city, that goes up to Y2900 OUTSIDE the city center (double it as you move into the city center).

So hopefully you live and work in a rural factory and have a good few roommates to split that ONE bedroom apt. with. Or maybe both you and your wife work (let’s assume NO kids) and after you pay all your utilities (Y275), transportation Y180 X2 (mass transit monthly pass), food (conservatively – coke is about Y4, milk Y12/l, eggs Y12/doz, chicken breast Y23, loaf bread Y10, 1kg potatoes Y7, 1kg cheese Y100, lettuce Y5, etc…) Y500-700, clothing Y200 (1 summer dress would run you around Y400+, pair jeans Y600+, shoes Y800+, etc… so Y200/month clothing allowance is generous), you’d have about Y1000 left ($150) on a “good month”.

If you save it all, have no kids, and don’t have any “unforeseen” expenses, you could buy a nice small car…in about 13 years.

But yes, overall, THIS is a “good” job in China. :/

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sundropdrinker3

From what I read about apartments in China, they start at 500 a month for basically a studio apartment. It's just like everywhere else: you get what you can afford, and get roommates to help offset costs. People make it sound bad, but it's not as bad as you people think.

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KenLV

Your Y500 – Y3000 rent is a PER WEEK cost – or, as I stated, Y2165 (to Y12990) per MONTH.

Again, while comparable to “everywhere else [in the world]” in cost, it’s disproportionally high as a percentage of income – by a factor of about 15. Add in all the above (food, clothing, transportation, utilities, etc…) and you’ll see why China has 200 Million homeless and such a high percentage of the population living in abject poverty.

We don’t need to “make it sound bad”, it’s friggin’ bad – and from the people I know who have BEEN THERE and seen what they are “allowed” to see, it’s WORSE than we think. Period.

And what “they can afford” is to work AND live in the factory.

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sundropdrinker3

From what I read about apartments in China, they start at 500 a month for basically a studio apartment. It's just like everywhere else: you get what you can afford, and get roommates to help offset costs. People make it sound bad, but it's not as bad as you people think.

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Incognito

Thanks for putting it into some perspective. I still stand by my assertion that the job itself is not bad, just the low wages and long hours.

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KenLV

Yep, as jobs go, you could certainly do worse. But I don’t care how nice the job is, serfdom (if you’re lucky, slave labor if you’re not) is no way to live.

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John Pombrio

Hell, this is palatial to a summer job I once had, making extruded plastic pipe fittings. I was on my feet all day on concrete, the area around the machine was 110+ in the summer, and I had to close the machine, wait for the pellets to melt, then open the machine and use a pneumatic wrench to remove the very hot pipe fitting, put it on a rack to cool (no gloves mind), and close the machine as quickly as I removed the part. 20-30 seconds between parts. No shorts, long sleeves to prevent burns, poor lighting, and the overpowering odor of melted plastic which leeched into my body so I smelled hours later of plastic. I lasted all of two weeks, picking tobacco would have been better. Pay was good tho..

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szore

Why are you CONSTANTLY giving us your resume and life story?

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Coldrage

@ szore

Why are you such a cunt?
You comment bullshit on nearly every article, get a life you ugly douche.

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szore

You are right, I apologize.

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GreenTurtle

AND I had to walk UP HILL... Both ways... IN THE SNOW!!! LOL...

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whathuhitwasntme

a lot of times, IF I am correct(only know what 60 minutes etc says)
they live on site, so rent is free for them
and they eat there as well

many of the plants in china, if you go 1 mile from them its no electricity or paved roads. Like it just fell from the sky.
The workers there have very few other choices, they can farm like 10,000 years of their ancestors did. OR they can join the growing middle class in China that is fueling their economy and pushing them into the 21st century and making them more an more like America.

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RaptorJohnson

How much is $2 an hour over there? What is rent on a apartment? How much does a bicycle cost? How much is a week's worth of groceries?

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I Jedi

I agree. I've read that China also purposely keeps their prices deflated as much as possible in order to make the products cheaper. Conditions may not be the most ideal in the world, but we have to consider what $2 an hour actually gets them.

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KenLV

Don’t fool yourself. With house prices INCREASING 300% over the last 7 years, it ain’t cheap to be a communist. No wonder there are 200 MILLION homeless in China.

The “good news” is that here’s what $2 an hour will buy you and your family:

http://www.chinahush.com/2011/11/08/just-another-food-scandal-landfill-becomes-cattle-feedlot/

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sundropdrinker3

An apartment in China ranges in price from 500 RMB to 3000+ RMB, depending on the size, which is similar to the US and pretty much else in the world. 1 RMB is $0.16, while $1 is 6.36 RMB. So, if $@ an hour, and work say 12 hours a day, that's $24, or 152.64 RMB, a day. 8 hours is $16, or 101.76 RMB, a day. So, they can easily afford an apartment, food, utilities. It just depends on if they decide to live within their means and actually get what they can afford.

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KenLV

As I said above, the $2/hour is a pipe dream. Average factory worker wage is $1.36/hour (X 6.36 = Y8.64). However, since we’re talking about HP here, companies like HP and Apple pay slightly more than average – about $400/month (Y2550).

Your Y500 – Y3000 rent is a PER WEEK cost – or, as I stated, Y2165 (to Y12990) per MONTH. And while comparable to “pretty much elsewhere in the world” in cost, it’s disproportionally high as a percentage of income – by a factor of about 15. Add in all the above (food, clothing, transportation, utilities, etc…) and you’ll see why China has 200 Million homeless and such a high percentage of the population living in abject poverty.

What “they can afford” is to work AND live in the factory.

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pastorbob

Have you been to China and seen all of this? Do you live there? Or do you have regular communications with somebody who lives there and works in one of the factories? Just wondering where you got all of the "facts and figures". Enquiring minds want to know.

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KenLV

I have not lived in China though I’ve spent the better part of a decade living and working in socialized Europe. However, as I briefly stated, I have colleagues and friends who have been there – some as private contractors, others on charitable works trips. Without exception none were able to travel freely and see whatever they wanted to. They ALWAYS has an official government supplied guide (I can’t remember what they called it exactly) who arranged all their travel and did not just let them “wander”. What we are ALLOWED to see and read about is the “best of the best” that China has to offer.

As to the facts and figures, they are readily available to all. A simple search will offer you a plethora of reports to back up the numbers I’ve presented. The Chinese government releases this kind of information. They are not ashamed of how they treat their citizens because “with communism, all are treated equally”. Of course this is a complete sham since the disparity between poor and rich in communist China is worse than here – despite claims otherwise. But the real problem isn’t that disparity exists – there has always been and will ALWAYS be disparity of outcome – and this is how it SHOULD be. The real shame is that while no society offers a better OPPORTUNITY of movement between “classes” than free market capitalism, I can’t think of any society that offers LESS of an opportunity than communism.

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pastorbob

Thank you for answering my questions and not just blowing me off or ranting at me.

:-)

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