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© mircea-bezergheanu-dreamstime.com Analysis | May 30, 2013

'Foxconn still window-dressing'

SACOM is still not impressed with Foxconn's efforts to introduce unions, union elections and to encourage participation in those unions among its workers in China.
According to SACOM, Financial Times reported Foxconn would start trade union democratization in its Chinese factories with the assistance of Fair Labor Association (FLA) on 4 February this year. “The new generation migrant workers concern programme” research team formed by a group of scholars and students from China and Hong Kong conducted a research of Foxconn trade union between this March and April.

The team found that 90.2% of Foxconn workers knew nothing about the trade union election; 94.7% of them had never participated the election in any form. On 6 May, while answering enquiry from Securities Daily (證券日報), a Chinese newspaper, about the trade union election, Foxconn spokesperson stated clearly that “union election is never on Foxconn’s agenda”. SACOM argues that the Foxconn promise is only for window-dressing, Foxconn deliberately ignore the workers’ expectation on Foxconn trade union reform.

On 16 May, FLA released the Second Verification Status Report. The report tells ambiguously about the union re-elections or interim elections in Guanlan, Longhua and Chengdu factories from late 2012 to early 2013 and “the percentage of worker representative has increased”. SACOM doubts that the report does not give the public a clear picture of the election method and procedure.

Moreover, the report claims that “significant progress in reducing (working) hours to 60 per week (including overtime) consistent with FLA and Apple’s code standards”. According to SACOM’s investigation, this “significant progress” can be made in such a short period of time because Foxconn changed the overtime compensation into “reward” payment to workers. SACOM criticizes that it is only a game of words. Foxconn workers’ overtime situation is still very severe.

SACOM emphasizes the workers’ rights to freedom of association as entitled by the China’s Trade Union Law. Trade unions should be wholly run by workers, to protect their rights to negotiate and communicate with employers on an equal footing. "It should never be an annex to the employers to control workers. SACOM demands Foxconn to let workers participate in trade unions immediately; to implement true overtime work control; to offer workers living wage; to handle workers’ complaints and demands seriously, to abolish military-style management and to practice occupational safety and health", a statement reads.

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