Factory workers at one of Foxconn’s Brazilian plants are complaining of overcrowded buses, poor food and a lack of water. Unless the issues are resolved by May 3, they are planning to strike, Tech Guru reported on Thursday. Workers reportedly met last Monday to voice their concerns and have given the company 10 days to address them or else over 2,500 employees will strike. Foxconn recently hired more than a thousand workers, however the company did not increase its transport infrastructure, and was also forced to hire water trucks due to the lack of water in the factory. A representative for the employees expressed optimism that a solution would be reached without resorting to a strike. More →
A report on Monday from NPR has provided new insights into an explosion that injured 59 workers in an iPad plant last December. The incident occurred at a plant run by Pegatron subsidiary Riteng Computer Accessory Company, which manufactures back panel parts for Apple’s iPad tablet, among other products. Last week, NPR met with 25 workers who were hospitalized from the blast, all of whom criticized the plant’s safety and said Apple had inspected it just hours before the explosion. “I saw a fireball coming towards me,” said He Wenwen, an employee who was calibrating his aluminum polishing machine when the explosion hit. “I lost consciousness for a few seconds. Later, when I opened my eyes, I saw dense smoke and fire everywhere. I felt scared, really scared. I could hear people crying and screaming.” Read on for more. More →
A pair of workers who claim to have been poisoned by toxins in a Suzhou, China factory while assembling touchscreens for Apple’s iPhone have written an open letter begging consumers to demand reform. SumOfUs, the organization behind the Ethical iPhone Campaign, released the letter in an email to the media on Wednesday afternoon. The letter was written by Guo Rui-qiang and Jia Jing-chuan, two former factory workers who urge consumers to sign SumOfUs’s petition and demand that Apple force its suppliers and manufacturing partners to improve working conditions at their Chinese factories. Both workers claim to have been poisoned by a chemical cleaner called N-hexane, and they have suffered neurological damage as a result. The Fair Labor Association is currently conduction inspections of two Foxconn factories, prompted by Apple, and while only preliminary inspections have been made at this point, the organization says it has already found “tons of issues.” The workers’ letter follows below in its entirety. More →
Foxconn workers claim the manufacturer transferred underage employees to other departments or did not schedule them to work overtime in an effort to avoid discovery during the Fair Labor Association’s investigation of its facilities, reports AppleInsider. Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) project officer Debby Sze Wan Chan was told by two Foxconn employees that the manufacturer “prepared for the inspection” by hiding the child laborers. “All underage workers, between 16-17 years old, were not assigned any overtime work and some of them were even sent to other departments,” Chan reportedly said. Another Foxconn worker said she had recently been allowed three breaks a day during the audit, an increase from one. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that the company “cares about every worker in our supply chain,” however many workers don’t feel the care that the CEO talks about. “Most of the time, the workers are aware of the presence of Apple’s representatives inside the factories,” said Chan. “It is not the problem that Apple doesn’t know the real problems at their suppliers. They know, but it is only because they do not care.” More →
Foxconn confirmed on Friday that it has raised wages for its factory workers by 16% to 25%, Reuters reports. The original device manufacturer, which is the No.1 maker of Apple’s iPhones and iPads, has raised wages to 1,800 yuan ($285) per month and may again raise them above 2,200 yuan ($349) for workers who pass a technical examination. In comparison, pay three years ago was 900 yuan ($143) per month. “As a top manufacturing company in China, the basic salary of junior workers in all of Foxconn’s China factories is already far higher than the minimum wage set by all local governments,” the company said in a statement. Foxconn has come under fire on numerous occasions due to allegations of poor working conditions, however the company is working to improve. “We will provide more training opportunities and learning time, and will continuously enhance technology, efficiency and salary, so as to set a good example for the Chinese manufacturing industry,” a company spokesperson said. Foxconn’s announcement comes on the heel of the Fair Labor Association’s preliminary assessment of the company’s plants, which are said to have conditions that are better than most.
On Monday, Apple announced that the Fair Labor Association would be conducting audits of facilities managed by its Chinese suppliers. Foxconn Technology Group, whose factories manufacture the iPad, has come under fire after a rash of worker suicides, fatal explosions and allegations of poor working conditions. Working conditions at Foxconn, however, were found to be far better than other facilities throughout the country, reported Reuters. “The facilities are first-class; the physical conditions are way, way above average of the norm,” said FLA president Auret van Heerden. “I was very surprised when I walked onto the floor at Foxconn, how tranquil it is compared with a garment factory. So the problems are not the intensity and burnout and pressure-cooker environment you have in a garment factory. It’s more a function of monotony, of boredom, of alienation perhaps.” Roughly 30 FLA staff members will be visiting two Foxconn factories in southern China and one in the central city of Chengdu. Over the course of three weeks, the FLA will conduct anonymous interviews with 35,000 workers who will be questioned about pay, living conditions, emotional condition and management. In addition to Foxconn, the FLA will investigate facilities belonging to Quanta Computer, Pegatron and Wintek. More →
Apple on Monday announced that the Fair Labor Association will be conducting audits of its suppliers, and the investigation will include Foxconn’s factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu, China. The inspections, which are being conducted at Apple’s request, are being led by FLA president Auret van Heerdenbegan. “We believe that workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment, which is why we’ve asked the FLA to independently assess the performance of our largest suppliers,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “The inspections now underway are unprecedented in the electronics industry, both in scale and scope, and we appreciate the FLA agreeing to take the unusual step of identifying the factories in their reports.” The FLA team will interview thousands of employees on matters such as living conditions, health, safety, compensation, working hours and communication with management. The team will also inspect manufacturing areas, dormitories and other areas of the companies’ various facilities. Apple’s suppliers have apparently offered full cooperation with the FLA, and have granted the group unrestricted access to their operations and facilities. The FLA’s findings and recommendations will be posted on the group’s website in early March. Read on for Apple’s press release. More →
Foxconn plans to build five additional factories in Brazil to produce liquid crystal displays for future Apple products. The plan was announced by the Secretary of Planning and Development for the State of São Paulo, Julio Semeghini, and reported by Brazilian news outlet, Folha. The five factories are in addition to the one already believed to producing iPads and iPhones, and each is reportedly set to employ roughly 1,000 workers. In addition to building Apple products, the factories will also manufacture notebooks, batteries and general electronics products. Officials from both Foxconn and the Brazilian government are said to be meeting to finalize the agreement soon, which São Paulo and neighboring states are rallying for. “We are awaiting the return of the executives of the Chinese New Year celebrations for taking up the negotiations,” said Semeghini. More →
Verizon Communications has filed lawsuits against the Communications Workers of America union in five states in an effort to limit picketing, the Associated Press reported. In separate filings, the company has accused picketers in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Delaware of harassment, sabotage and of blocking access to its facilities. Verizon got a court order to limit picketing in Pennsylvania on Monday, and a similar order was granted in Delaware on Wednesday. More than 45,000 unionized wireline employees at Verizon have walked out over premium increases for health benefits, and managers are currently filing in for the striking workers. More →
Hon Hai-owned manufacturing giant Foxconn intends to release a portion of its workforce in favor of 1 million new robot workers according to a new report. Xinhua News Agency said on Friday that Hon Hai chairman and founder Terry Gou confirmed the news, seemingly in callous fashion at an employee dance party. The new robots will be used to perform “simple and routine work” such as part assembly and welding. Foxconn currently employs approximately 1.2 million people and also utilizes 10,000 robots. According to the chairman’s reported comments, the number of robot workers will increase to 300,000 next year and 1 million in three years. It is unclear how much of Foxconn’s current workforce will be let go following the introduction of these new robots. Foxconn’s treatment of its workforce has garnered a great amount of attention following a string of employee suicides. More →
DigiTimes is citing a report from sznews.com today that three Foxconn employees have been arrested in Shenzhen, China for leaking the design specs of the iPad 2 to third-party case manufacturers ahead of the device’s launch. The three were allegedly arrested in December of last year and were charged in late March for the leaks. Foxconn grew suspicious of its own employees after accurate third-party iPad 2 cases began popping up on the market; the firm then asked local authorities to investigate. Foxconn manufacturers electronics for a number of major companies including Apple, HP, Palm, and Sony, and it has been called out in the past for the harsh treatment of its employees. More →
Taiwan’s minister of the Counsel of Labor Affairs (CLA) on Thursday announced her intentions to raise the nation’s basic wage for public workers by over 3%. CLA minister Jennifer Wang remarked that despite a 3.47% increase to Taiwan’s basic wage last year, the planned 3% pay hike for public workers should be increased further still. Wang argues that the country’s base pay was too low to begin with, so another 3% hike will not be sufficient for those earning a minimum wage. As of January 1st of this year, basic pay for public workers was increased from NT$17,280 to NT$17,880, or approximately $619 each month. The CLA minister’s comments came following Lawmaker Ho Tsai-feng’s note that the minimum wage should be raised by $2,330 each month, the average increase across all public workers at the currently slated 3% rate. This would bring Taiwan’s monthly minimum wage to NT$20,110, or $696. More →
It’s no wonder why Foxconn is considering moving some facilities outside Taiwan and China and into other countries like Brazil. Beyond the potential tax benefits for the manufacturer and its clients, China and Taiwan are finally beginning to address problems surrounding the working conditions its citizens have endured in recent history. Forced wage increases and other recent moves such as Taipei City’s decision on Tuesday to slash the maximum monthly working hours from 312 to 260 for some laborers threaten to spill over into other regions and industries. For Foxconn and parent company Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd. — which just revealed March revenue of NT$214.9 billion ($7.39 billion USD), up 41% over February — the financial impact of these moves on the bottom line could be massive. It will be interesting to see how Chinese President Hu Jintao receives Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff as they discuss shifting billions of dollars out of China and into Brazil.