Wu and Huang, who began working at Foxconn this spring, said that after deductions from their paychecks that included housing, theyd each pocketed about 1,100 yuan, some $173, in May. That was for 40 hours a week putting together iPads, plus about 10 hours of overtime during the month, they said.
By way of contrast, the meeting at which Mayor Ge spoke hes also the deputy secretary of the Communist Partys municipal committee for Chengdu was in a complex attached to an InterContinental Hotel. The lowest advertised room rate on the hotels website for a recent Saturday was 1,188 yuan, or roughly $186.
But as they dipped their food into a spicy pot of boiling oil and poured beer into small glasses, a group of four other Foxconn workers who were having dinner a couple of weeks ago sounded optimistic, for the most part.
Mao Jie, the 20-year-old son of farmers from a town about 45 miles to the north of Chengdu, said he hoped to work his way up to management. Hes been doing quality control inspection at the company for six months.
His friend Zhou Chao, a skinny 20-year-old, said he was going to save up money. Unlike his farmer parents, Zhou said, he plans to travel.
The oldest person at the table, 22-year-old Xu Xiaoqing, at first listened to her friends banter without speaking much. A team supervisor, she came to the company almost three years ago in the southern province of Guangdong and transferred to Chengdu in May. She nets twice what the others do, more than $600 a month.
Asked about working at Foxconn and her thoughts on the future, Xu paused before reciting a phrase that means that while ones ideals may be very full, reality is very skinny.
At the beginning I didnt think I would work here so long, Xu said. The job is very tiring. Everything here is different from home I dont have my dreams and my ideals anymore.
The others let her words sink in.
Zhou spoke up a bit later in his chirpy voice: If we perform well, we will get a higher salary.
Zhou and the two other newcomers looked relieved by what hed said. Xu did not.
Researcher Joyce Zhang contributed to this report.