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Foxconn's factory in Zhengzhou employs 300,000 workers
If you own an iPhone, then it might have come from Foxconn's factory in Zhengzhou, China. The company employs 300,000 workers at the facility devoted to producing Apple's latest handset. While for many the jobs can be monotonous, outside the factory Foxconn's presence has turned the nearby residences into a mecca of activity and entertainment.
The area around the Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou was once home to mainly farms. But now it's become a hub of growth as developers come in constructing new apartments and shops. The "Wojin Commercial Square" is the latest structure to come, and features high-rise apartments, along with new shops, in what's an outdoor mall-like atmosphere.
Assembly line workers, however, often have tight budgets. Base monthly wages for entering workers can start at 1800 yuan, meaning employees must rely on overtime to earn more. In their free time, workers said a popular destination is visiting the cheap Internet cafes. Others enjoy playing sports at the apartment complexes.
By 6:30 PM, hundreds of workers stream out of the factory buildings as the day shift ends, creating a giant mass of people. The entrances and nearby roads are clogged with cars, buses, and scooters, as the employees prepare to go eat dinner.
Among the night life offerings are karaoke and dance clubs, like this one called Disco Through Time. On a Sunday night, the club was taking cover for 10 yuan (US$1.6), and a few workers were on the dance floor.
Despite all the construction, much of the area is still being developed. Old homes are routinely being demolished, and replaced with modern buildings. Bare land, ripe for development, is a common sight.
Third-party job recruitment stations can also be found everywhere, and make money by funneling new labor to the Foxconn factory. Recruitment stations, like this one, state in their advertisements that prospective employees can immediately receive a job interview and enter the factory on the same day.
During lunch, workers can choose to eat at the factory cafeterias, and pay around 7 yuan for a meal (US$1.1). But some decide to venture out and dine at the nearby food stalls. Here, workers are eating noodles.
Most Foxconn workers in Zhengzhou are in their early twenties, and often end up dating one another. In some cases, they end up marrying. But to live together, they decide to live away from the worker dorms and in the local apartments nearby. Prices for an apartment like this can go for 400 yuan (US$65) a month, more than double the 150 yuan they pay to share a worker dorm.
Suicides although rare, still happen at Foxconn factories, including the one in Zhengzhou. In a few cases, families of the deceased have protested outside the facility, demanding Foxconn make an apology. In this photo, taken by a worker in June of last year, a family raised a banner that drew a crowd of workers. Foxconn has said suicide is a complex issue, and that no one reason can be cited for it.