updated 01:15 pm EDT, Tue November 2, 2010
Cramped dorms, suicide nets
New images depict workers' living conditions at the Foxconn factory in Shenzhen, China. The facility is where electronics for many Western companies are assembled, including Apple products like the iPhone. Captured as part of a joint project by Wired and Gizmodo, the photos reveal spartan worker dormitories, with only modest luxuries.
Roughly half of Foxconn's 420,000 workers are based in Shenzhen. While the dorms have TV rooms on each floor, and workout equipment located outside, sleeping quarters are divided into rooms the size of two-car garages, with eight workers sharing four bunks. Personal items are kept in shelves or in lockers, and in newer dorms workers have to use a shared sink on a balcony to wash clothing and themselves.
Halls are described as "institutionally" empty, and dimly lit. The latter is however meant to save energy and keep temperature down, as well as allow late-shift workers to sleep better during the day. Dorm exteriors are meanwhile lined with nets, designed to counter a rash of suicides which eventually ended in May.
Foxconn has reportedly outsourced the management of living quarters, a response to complaints about potential conflicts of interest in doing it itself. The company's employment may still be tough, nevertheless; it has been accused of maintaining low wages and harsh hours, and even condoning abuse. Foxconn has denied all abuse allegations.