According to a report published by The Mail on Sunday one factory – dubbed “iPod City” – and run by Taiwanese company Foxconn, employs a workforce of 200,000 people working for “about half the wage weavers earned in Liverpool and Manchester in 1805, allowing for inflation,” and “live in dormitories on the site, 100 to a room, arriving with a few possessions and a bucket to wash their clothes.”

The paper cites one employee working 15-hour days for 27 pounds per month (about US$50), a wage described as low, “even for China.”

The newspaper also describes the area where iPod City is located, Zhengzhou, as one of China’s poorer regions, where workers would “accept even less.”

“The job here is so-so” a Foxconn employee told The Mail on Sunday. “We have to work too hard and I am always tired. It’s like being in the army. They make us stand still for hours. If we move we are punished by being made to stand still for longer. The boys are made to do push-ups.”

Although focused on the iPod, the news story also notes that the working conditions are not unique to Apple or its products. Will Sturgeon, managing editor of IT Web site told the paper that such global conditions are “commonplace.”

“Apple are only one of thousands of companies manufacturing their products in the same places and in the same conditions,” Sturgeon said. “It’s the nature of big business today to exploit any opportunity that comes their way.”

While Apple is weathering the PR storm brought about by the news story, conditions in Chinese factories manufacturing products for export are sure to come under scrutiny by the rest of the world. Even though Apple appears to be the bad guy in this story, it is the consumer who will eventually have to decide between low retail prices for goods manufactured in China and the price workers pay to keep their jobs there.

Meanwhile, Apple says it is looking into the claims made by the news story. In a statement issued to the press, the computer company said, “Apple is committed to ensuring that working conditions in our supply chain are safe, workers are treated with respect and dignity, and manufacturing processes are environmentally responsible.”