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Under Pressure, Foxconn Agrees To Raise Wages, Cut Overtime

Under Pressure, Foxconn Agrees To Raise Wages, Cut Overtime

The word Foxconn probably brings to mind exploited factory workers in China who work long days for slave wages to bring us a host of devices like the iPhone and the iPad. Those miserable working conditions, as well as at least 25 suicides, have forced the issue of cheap labor and its costs into the limelight.

So it is good news that last Saturday, the Taiwan-based company announced that it will raise worker wages up to 25 percent, to about $400 a month, and cut down on excessive overtime.

A Change Of Heart?

The announcement by Foxconn came after an outcry over how employees are treated at its factories. In recent weeks, labor rights groups have staged protests in various countries after reports of the abusive working conditions at some of the factories run by Apple’s Chinese suppliers.

To stem criticism, Apple hired a nonprofit labor group, the Washington-based Fair Labor Association, to inspect the plants it uses. (Together with a couple of other manufacturers in China, Foxconn supplies about 90 percent of Apple’s products. They also make Kindles and a number of gaming systems.)

Chefs Slaughter 6,000 Pigs Each Day

Here’s what they observed:

One Foxconn factory, situated in Shenzhen, central China, is so vast that walking around its outer perimeter takes two hours. The chefs slaughter 6,000 pigs a day to feed the company’s nearly 400,000 workers in this giant industrial complex, spread over 1.2 square miles.

Foxconn employees work anywhere from 12 to 18 hours a day, six or seven days a week. And that really is all they do. Their entire life consists of sleeping, getting up, working, eating, having short breaks in between and then going back to bed. They have very little leisure time, and most of them are migrants from other parts of China.

Such facilities have made it possible for devices to be turned out almost as quickly as they are dreamed up.

A Fundemental Shift?

Does the announcement mean a fundamental shift for Chinese manufacturers?

From The New York Times:

For that system to genuinely change, Foxconn, its competitors and their clients — which include Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Dell and the world’s other large electronics firms — must convince consumers in America and elsewhere that improving factories to benefit workers is worth the higher prices of goods.

In addition, other Chinese manufacturers won’t follow suit unless the media exposes more of these types of practices. And it really does take the purchasers of the products, such as Apple, to require that the suppliers actually comply with fair wage and labor practices.

But Foxconn’s announcement is at least a step in the right direction, and it is heartening to know that grassroots pressure can make a difference.

Related Stories

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74 Million iPads. 26 Suicides. Did Steve Jobs Know?

Chinese Workers’ Rights: Apple Makes A Small Step Forward

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Photo Credit: M.I.C Gadget

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25 comments

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8:10AM PDT on Jul 8, 2013

The retail price for the Iphone 5 64 GB is almost one thousand dollars, tax not included. Apple is sitting on billions. They need to give up some of their profits before I am willing spend anything with them, never mind more.

6:51PM PST on Feb 29, 2012

It's about time.

8:30AM PST on Feb 26, 2012

Poor pigs.

9:32PM PST on Feb 22, 2012

no blood ipad

8:01PM PST on Feb 22, 2012

Of course, it's not a change of heart. It's pressure from their clients like Apple who finally must look into these oppressive working conditions because of public (customer) outcry.

10:33AM PST on Feb 22, 2012

You'll regret this in the end.

9:47AM PST on Feb 22, 2012

I am glad they are finally doing something. Hopefully Apple will continue this for the rest of its corporate life. No human being should be treated like these FoxConn employees. As usual the rich exploiting the poor.

9:42AM PST on Feb 22, 2012

These people work upwards of 18 hours per day, 7 days a week. That is 504 hours per month.
(They probably aren't paid for the extra two days. ;) )

At any rate, a worker makes less than 79 cents per hour.
Out of that comes room and board. The workers live in a company town.

Apple sells their products for hugely inflated sums.
A MacBook Air costs $1600 online. An iPod is $200.

On their website, apple.com, Apple corp blabs on and on about how they are responsible employers.

They do not make any promises to pay the producers of their gadgets a decent wage or to not work them to death.

They only promise is to "not discriminate, to provide for worker safety, to be responsible for environmental protection". So vague.

Workers used to be exploited in this manner in this country. Many of us remember the stories our grandparents and great-grandparents told us.

The work was monotonous, 12 or more hours per day, six and seven day week.
Their bodies wore out. They were old before their time. They were in constant pain from repetitive stress injuries to their joints. Many drank to self medicate.

Apple knows full well how their slaves are treated. Workers are committing suicide over this.
This is not new. Apple have done nothing to stop it.

It is not a cultural thing to overwork and underpay employees, it is a greed thing.
It is an evil thing.

And evil exists only because good people do nothing.

.

9:40AM PST on Feb 22, 2012

This whole Foxconn thingy reminds me,of the Ancient Anthracite History,of the Company! Old Company's Lehigh. Although I am proud of where I live and my areas History,I can relate to conditions. Many years ago,hardcoal was discovered here. Then the uses for it,as a heat source. Then,came the Company,which consisted of INVESTER'S,getting land usage rights for mining. Then the Company Store,which had every need for sale.Then the equipment to start,mining. Which was a candle,a lantern and a pick&shovel. Then the people to do the work.This was even advertised for work,in Europe.Then the housing and food supply's for the workers. Thus,you got paid,for HOW much coal you mined. Come payday,you paid for your housing,food,clothes,and mining supply's.If you had anything left,you got drunk! Or ran up a tab,on next weeks pay? Or the same with the company's store. Then came the Advent of the Infamous "Molly McGuirres", who rebelled on the very long hours and working conditions.Then came the murders. First the bosses,then whoever was against! So one can see the idea for the first union? Well at least CHINA,is now buying most of our mined-processed-coal!!.

8:23AM PST on Feb 22, 2012

I've always said when they exported the jobs they needed to export the unions, too. Now we're seeing some pushback and that's good. It's not perfect, sure and they'll up their prices to the workers, but it's a start. Their society will begin an upgrade process of bargaining awareness.

China is huge, but they spend the bulk of their military monies on internal security issues. They've got a big learning curve coming at them.

Steve : you say you don't give a damn about anybody else when Americans are hurting. We're human. We have the ability to self-define and identify at any number of stop points: sexual identity, family unit, language, job skills, social class, country boarders, religion. Expand your horizons. There are greater issues at play when you see the whole human family at work on this planet. We're intimately connected. Take some responsibility for that reality and things begin to work out for the betterment of all of us. Hard work, but worth it.

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