© SACOM Electronics Production | May 31, 2012

Foxconn working conditions - Still a lot to be improved

EMS-giant Foxconn is still forcing its factory workers to toil under difficult conditions, SACOM states in a new report.

Exhausting workloads, humiliating discipline, and cramped living conditions are still 'the norm' for workers at Foxconn factories in China, the latest report from workers rights group Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) reveals. For the report, which is based on interviews with 170 workers and supervisors, SACOM revisited Foxconn factories in Shenzhen and Zhengzhou between March and May 2012. The group found that labour rights violations remain the norm in the factories. The following are the key findings of SACOM’s investigations:
  • No freedom of speech: In the orientation, workers are warned not to talk to journalists and researchers unless given permission by the management.
  • No freedom of association: Workers are ordered to sign up for the company-controlled union without knowing the functions of the unions.
  • No transparency in the FLA’s inspections: Workers have no access to the FLA’s report and the remedial actions.
  • Overall salary decreases: The basic payment of workers increases but, overall, the salary of workers decreases because the overtime work is cut down.
  • Unpaid overtime and demanding production targets: After the pay rise, overtime hours were reduced but, since then, workers have been set higher production targets and sometimes have to work unpaid overtime.
  • Excessive overtime for the iPad workers: In the lead-up to the release of the new iPad, workers could not take leave for family reunions during the Chinese New Year. And overtime work for the iPad workers remained at 80 hours a month in April.
  • Inhumane treatment: The frontline management continue to impose humiliating disciplinary measures on workers, including forcing workers to write confession letters, reading out these confession letters, cleaning the toilets and manual labouring work.
  • Psychological tests for job applicants: The written test for job applicants includes a section designed to screen out workers who have, or might develop, mental health problems.
  • Unsafe working environment: No adequate training for workers on work and safety. Workers do not know what kinds of chemicals they are using. At least 728 cases of industrial injuries at Foxconn’s production facilities in Shenzhen have been recorded.
EMS-giant Foxconn, who's most prominent manufacturing client is Apple, has come under increased scrutiny in the past few years after several of its employees committed suicides. The company was also accused of employing underage laborers, providing poor living conditions at its dormitory housing, and overworking employees. Foxconn came under even closer watch after an explosion that rocked one of its factories last year. The workforce of Foxconn in China is over 1 million. Shenzhen is the biggest factory with about half a million workers. In Shenzhen, Longhua and Guanlan are the company's two major production sites. Longhua is known as Foxconn City. It is estimated that the workforce is 350'000. It produces electronic products for many brands, including Apple, HP, Nokia, Amazon, Dell, etc. Guanlan is a smaller campus with about 100'000 workers. The overwhelming majority of workers there produce iPhones. SACOM also visited a small Foxconn factory in Songgang, which produces printed circuit boards for Apple, HP and Nokia, and has about 30'000 workers. Apple is the major client of Foxconn in Songgang according to the respondents. Since August 2010, the factory in Zhengzhou has been expanding. The current workforce is about 100'000 workers. All the workers in Zhengzhou produce iPhones. Foxconn has three production sites in Zhengzhou. The Airport Zone is still under construction. It is expected that the workforce will grow to 350'000.
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