By SIERRA EDWARDS, age 10

Many workers in America work 8 hours in a day, 40 hours in a week or 160 hours in a month. If they work more than 8 hours in a day, or overtime, they get paid extra. Sometimes people work overtime to earn more money or to finish a project.

In China, there has been a controversy about worker conditions in the Apple manufacturing company, Foxconn. Employees may work 60 hours in a week or more without overtime pay or enough breaks. Some people were forced to work all seven days in a week without a single day off. Other workers felt unsafe in the factory because of the aluminum dust, which caused an explosion at a facility in Chengdu in 2011. (Aluminum is a metal used in many Apple products.) Over a dozen people found the working conditions too tough and unfair that they even took their own lives. The New York Times reported that a 22-year-old man worked 286 hours in the month for $1 an hour.

2011 report on working conditions at Foxconn said that the Chinese workers were treated “inhumanely, like machines.” Workers have to work many hours so that there are enough Apple products to meet the global demand. Workers are crowded into small dormitories often sharing the space with 24 other people. Many migrate from poor small towns to work at the factory so that they can support their families back home.

“Sometimes my roommates cry when they arrive in the dormitory after a long day,” a 19-year-old girl told investigators. “It’s difficult to adapt to this work and [it’s] hard to be away from your family.”

Even though Apple workers in China are being treated like dirt, some want to work long hours at the factory “to make as much money as quickly as possible,” according to the New York Times, and to take their profits back to their home villages. Working regular 40-hour-weeks does not pay for basic needs. The issue is that the workers work too much and are not paid for those hours.

In May 2012, the Fair Labor Association (an organization that protects workers’ rights worldwide) released an independent report on the Foxconn working conditions. ABC News reports that Foxconn promised to lower overtime hours without lowering pay and that works will be paid the correct amount for all the hours they had worked in the past.

Word Bank:

Demand: what consumers want to own, what they can pay for it and their willingness to pay

Facility: space or equipment needed for doing or building something

Inhumane: cruel

Investigate: to research or study something in depth

Manufacturer: a business that makes or builds some product or thing

Migrate: to move from one place to another

Overtime: working extra hours than regularly scheduled for more pay

Profits: financial gain

Rural: describes a place that is in the country and not in the town

A Chinese worker PHOTO: flickr.com/Robert S. Donovan

A Chinese worker PHOTO: flickr.com/Robert S. Donovan

A protest at Foxconn by Students&Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) PHOTO: flickr.com/Lennon Ying-Dah Wong

A protest at Foxconn by Students&Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) PHOTO: flickr.com/Lennon Ying-Dah Wong

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