Day 54: Hidden in the Supply Chain

On November 7, 2013, Bloomberg Businessweek published an article, Interactive: Hidden Nightmares in Apple's Supply ChainThe article tells a compelling story about Bibek, a 28-year-old man from Nepal, and his experience of being recruited and working at the iPhone camera factory, Flextronics. 

In 2012, demand for the iPhone 5 exceeded supply; within the first 3 days of the release date, more than 5 million phones were sold. The search for more workers quickly commenced, which led to the recruitment of Bibek. Bibek was told he would make more money and be able to provide for his family if he took the job working in the camera factory. Like many human trafficking stories, he soon became a slave to the system.

Bibek was lied to by the recruiter and immediately became indebted to not only the recruiter, but the company that hired him, Flextronics. Flextronics picked Bibek up from the airport, took his passport, charged him for room and board, and only paid him $5.80 per day (12-hour shifts). The cost of room and board was high, making it impossible for Bibek to send money home, and/or repay the labor agents that recruited him.  

In late 2012, Felxtronics begins to fail after Apple rejects many of their camera products, eventually laying off employees in 2013. Bibek is laid off, does not get his passport returned, and is stranded in Malaysia for months. After much time and money, Bibek returned home and is working in a shoe factory making $3/day working 12-hour shifts. Unfortunately, he still owes a lot of money to multiple individuals that helped get him home, increasing his debt.  

I told the short version of this story because it is a common story repeatedly told by human trafficking victims. They are the unfortunate victims of fraud, coercion, and often force. To read the full Bloomberg story, click on the article previously mentioned above.