The Hidden Costs of Media Use

In China in 2013 there were 257,000 premature deaths across the country due to air pollution known as PM2.5. That’s an average of 90 in every 100,000 deaths.This is due to the corporate business models used by many of the large companies operating in China at the expense of their workers. Although there are a multitude of companies operating their factories in China, there is one company who can afford to be more environmentally friendly. Apple. As one of the most profitable and influential companies, I feel they definitely have a greater responsibility for ethical leadership.

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After the suicide cases, Apple workers now have to sign an anti-suicide contract pledging that they will not attempt to commit suicide. Anti-suicide nets were installed on the outside of all the dorm windows so that the workers would be caught and brought back to work.

The workers are also made to work in inhumane working conditions, as well as having to work up to 98 hours of overtime in a month – three times more than what the Chinese law states.  Additionally, workers are only allowed to take one day off every two weeks.   A considerable amount of Apples profit can be attributed to the cheap labour costs they employ in their factories. This includes hiring under age workers. The normal wages for an employee are around $17-$22 a day.

The workers are forced to live in communal dorms with around 24 people living in each room. The workers can be woken at any time to start work. Days before the original iPhone was released, the workers were awoken at 3am when Steve Jobs made the decision to change the screens from plastic to glass.

Companies are continually sourcing rare minerals to fulfil the high production demand for new forms of technology. These minerals are dangerously extracted in order to improve the functionality of devices, with no concern for the environment or the workers employed in these dangerous environments to extract these minerals.

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Another great concern is the build up of toxic E-waste. It is having massive impacts for not only society as a whole, but for the developing countries who usually fall victim to being developed countries dumping grounds.

In a statement, Apple said: “Apple is committed to ensuring the highest standards of social responsibility throughout our supply base. Apple requires suppliers to commit to our comprehensive supplier code of conduct as a condition of their contracts with us. We drive compliance with the code through a rigorous monitoring programme, including factory audits, corrective action plans and verification measures.”

It is obvious that Apple are not displaying social responsibility and are putting profits over the health and safety of their workers. There needs to be a massive shift in the laws and regulations in China to improve the working conditions of every factory. The current regulations are obviously not even sufficient enough to provide their workers with basic human rights.
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