NYU grad student Dejian Zeng worked undercover at an iPhone factory in Shanghai, China for six weeks, and "grim" is a nice way to describe it.
Zeng was in charge of one screw per phone, fastening the speaker to the back of the iPhone case. He had to show up at the factory at 7:30 and work 12 hours per day, but was only paid for 10 1/2 hours per day since breaks are unpaid. And his work week consisted of 6 days per week, for which he only gets paid $450/month, including overtime.
The workers live in prison cells, er, I mean dorm rooms that are as bleak as hell. They have only one uniform to wear all week, as well as a pair of slippers. But they do not receive an iPhone as a perk – it's rare to see anyone with a personal iPhone at the iPhone factory. Most workers have a phone that is cheaper.
The thing that shocked Zeng the most was the managers' attitudes – "yelling at the workers is kind of routine in the factories." But the good thing is that the company has installed nets around the stairs to prevent people from committing suicide. Oh, and the windows have cages around them so no one can jump out and kill themselves.
There are more fascinating details in this video. Good undercover work, Zeng!