Strong Unions and Labor Laws Protect Foxconn Factory Workers in Brazil


Written by Global Action, AFL-CIO

Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that makes more electronic components than any other, is well-known for its large factories in China and their many severe labor rights violations. In an attempt to expand the market reach of brands it produces for, Foxconn has opened some factories in Brazil in the past few years, including one producing Apple products.

But thanks to Brazil’s labor laws, industrial policy and its culture of unionization and collective bargaining, the Brazilian Foxconn workers may actually be able to afford one of the iPhones or iPads they assemble.

The conditions in the Brazilian factories are in stark contrast to Foxconn’s factories in China—wages are twice as high and workers get six times more vacation. Plus, workers are not expected to work 60 to 70 hours a week, or sometimes more than 11 days in a row.

This past week, Luis Carlos de Oliveira, vice president of the Metalworkers Union of Jundiai, in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most industrialized region, visited the AFL-CIO and the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. He and activists for labor rights in China spoke in a forum, “A Closer Look at Apple and Foxconn: Labor Practices in China and Brazil,” about the Brazilian model of development, which includes a national industrial policy to develop strategic industries and boost both the domestic labor and consumer markets. De Oliveira noted that in addition to a 44-hour maximum workweek set by Brazilian law, workers at the Foxconn factory in Brazil have bargained for decent wages, health plans, profit-sharing, food and transport and six months of paid maternity leave.

“The satisfied worker will produce more, and produce better,” de Oliveira said in his remarks at the AFL-CIO.

As part of its industrial policy, the Brazilian government has given significant tax breaks and other financial incentives for Foxconn to assemble devices there, all with an eye toward boosting consumer electronics in the country to end its dependence on imported electronic components. Jobs for Apple in Foxconn factories should be a huge source of employment in the Jundiai region, which is set to employ 6,000 workers and receive billions more in investment. And each of the new hires will be protected by a collectively bargained contract ensuring above-minimum wages and on-the-job safety.

The labor movement in Brazil has elected members of the state and national Congress who are real partners with workers. In Congress and the national government, the labor movement participates in dialogue about how to develop strategic industries in the country with high added value, technological development and the capacity to fight against deindustrialization by building labor markets in manufacturing industries and an internal market so these workers can buy the goods they produce.

This post was originally published by the AFL-CIO.


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Bill Moyers Talks Unions, Workers’ Rights

Foxconn Exploits Workers: What Should Apple Do?

Are You Designer Jeans Making Factory Workers Sick?


Photo from Scania Group via flickr


Duane B.
.3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Nancy Crouse
Nancy Crouse4 years ago

This is why unions came into being in the first place. With the decline of unions we see the decline in the middle-class and laws protecting workers. The multi-national corporations hate unions and are busting them because they are a nasty reminder against all that is wrong with the robber barons and their greed. Time to tax the hell out of these greedy mongrels. Yes mongrels, because they are hybrids of everything evil with the world today! They are not necessarily bright, just cunning, well connected and wealthy so they can buy their way around the world.

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola4 years ago

Thanks for the share.

Jennifer C.
Past Member 4 years ago

Noted. Thanks.

iii q.
g d c.4 years ago


Howard C.
.4 years ago

I hear so many people criticise Unions, they often complain about being forced to join a Union and to pay a subscription. When it comes to getting the pay rise that the Union has negotiated on behalf of its' members or the improvements to terms and conditions of service that they have achieved those same people all too rarely leap forward and say 'no thankyou, I was not party to the struggle that achieved these things so I will not take them', no instead they rely on the fact that the employer will give them the same package so as not to encourage other workers to join the Union. I strongly suspect that should Unions be abolished (or at least their power severly limited) as some of these people seem to want, then it would be those same people who would say 'someone should do something about it'! If you don't like the way your Union operates then stop sitting around and complaining about it, join and bring about change. When those who so readily complain realise how very difficult affecting change actually is, the rich are not happy to share and they will never stop being greedy, then maybe they will begin to view Unions from a slightly different perspective.

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L.4 years ago

I will not buy an Apple product until they are produced in the USA.

Arild Warud
Arild Warud4 years ago


KS Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Michelle Anderson

Thank you for sharing