Factory workers claim Foxconn hid underage employees before FLA inspection

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014


Workers at Apple partner Foxconn have alleged that their employer transferred underage employees to other departments or did not schedule them to work overtime in order to avoid discovery during recent inspections by the Fair Labor Association, according to one non-governmental organization.



Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) project officer Debby Sze Wan Chan relayed the claims in a recent interview with AppleInsider. SACOM is a Hong Kong-based NGO that was formed in 2005 and has been researching labor rights violations in the electronics industry since 2007.



Chan said she had heard from two Foxconn workers in Zhenghou last week that the manufacturer was "prepared for the inspection" by the Fair Labor Association that had been commissioned by Apple and began last week.



"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 reported the workers as having said.



Another Foxconn worker in Chengdu said she had been allowed three breaks a day recently because of the audit, whereas she is accustomed to only receiving one break a day.



Apple's supplier code of conduct allows for workers between 16 and 18 years old if they are legally allowed to work, but it requires special protections for those workers that limit how much and what kinds of work they are allowed to perform.



FLA president Auret van Heerden initially told reporters last week that Foxconn's facilities were "first class," though he did add that there are "tons of issues" that need resolving. He also revealed in an interview with Nightline that Apple had paid $250,000 to join the FLA and was picking up the bill for the audits.



van Heerden did say in that interview that he expected Foxconn to put on a show. The FLA plans to conduct "bottom up interviews" as part of its audit, as noted by TUAW.



According to SACOM, some Foxconn workers feel that Apple does not care about them because they believe the company's representatives have seen labor violations during their visits and have elected not to do anything. Chan recounted instances where she had told workers about a letter that Apple CEO Tim Cook allegedly wrote declaring that the company cares about "every worker in [its] supply chain."



"The workers just feedback that they don't feel this [care]," she said.





Foxconn workers file down the Apple logo on an iPad component. | Credit: Almin Karamehmedovic/ABC News







"Most of the time, the workers are aware of the presence of Apple's representatives inside the factories. 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," she added.



For her part, Chan said she hopes that Cook will work to improve working conditions among suppliers, but she also expressed doubts whether he has "any commitments to do so."



SACOM has drafted a petition calling for Apple to "end the use of student workers; provide a living wage for all the workers so they do not have to work excessive overtime hours; conduct labour rights training for workers, including training on occupational health and safety; facilitate the formation of a genuine trade union through democratic election; and compensate the victims if there is non-compliance with the Apple code of conduct."



Chan said she had yet to receive a reply from Apple after more than two years of trying to contact the company. She even visited Apple's Cupertino, Calif., headquarters in an attempt to deliver reports, documentaries and petition cards to the company, but, according to her, the receptionist refused to receive SACOM's materials.



"Finally, a security guard tried to disperse us and he promised that he would hand the materials to someone in charge, but I haven't heard from them since then," she said.



SACOM protesters attempted to deliver Apple a petition from Sum of Us on Tuesday at the Apple Store in Hong Kong, but no one from the company would accept it.



Apple did not respond to requests for comment from AppleInsider.



When asked whether recent reports from The New York Times and CNN on Apple's supply chain are accurate, Chan said their findings were "quite similar" to her organization's own research..



"The workers always tell us they resemble machines," she said of her trips to the Foxconn's Chengdu factory. "Their regular day at Foxconn is waking up, queuing up for baths and work, work and go back to the dormitory and sleep. They do not have a social life and they are doing the same monotonous task in the factory for thousands of times a day. If they are not efficient enough or they make some mistakes, they will be yelled at by their supervisor or punished."



Chan took things a step further and said that mainstream media outlets have left out an important issue that should be under the spotlight: involuntary labor and the use of student workers. According to her, local Chinese government departments provide recruitment assistance for Foxconn and sometimes require that schools send their students to the manufacturer for internships even if their studies are in unrelated disciplines.



She also said that a recent raise from Foxconn was not enough to provide livable wages to its workers. The company announced last week that it was raising worker pay by between 16 and 25 percent. Other manufacturers, including Flextronics, Huawei and Wintek have also increased their basic salaries for their workers.



"In Zhengzhou, the basic salary of new workers is CNY 1350 ($214)," Chan said. "And there is a deduction of CNY 150 ($24) for the dorm. If a worker eats inside the factory, there is another CNY 200-300 ($32-48) to pay. It is far from the living wage standard. Without overtime premiums, a worker can hardly support his/herself."



One Foxconn VP appeared to put the onus on Apple in a recent interview by saying that the company would welcome demands from its client to double worker pay.



Chan did admit that many factory jobs are better than opportunities in workers' hometowns, but she pointed out that the fact that the opportunities are better than others should not be an excuse to violate workers' basic labor rights.



It should also be noted that other brands have a responsibility to ensure fair conditions in their supply chains. As the biggest IT manufacturer in the world, Foxconn provides services for a number of Apple's competitors, including HP, Dell, Nokia, Samsung and Sony. Chan said working conditions on production lines for most companies at Foxconn are generally "quite similar," though she did note that interviewees have indicated that Finnish handset maker Nokia does try to guarantee at least one day a week off for Foxconn workers assembling its products. Other production lines might only allow one day off every two weeks, Chan added.



When asked what individual consumers should do to act on concerns about working conditions in the electronics industry, Chan urged buyers to put pressure on companies, including Apple.



"I think the pressure from consumers is definitely the most important incentive for Apple to reform because Apple, like any other corporation, aims to maximize the profits and minimize the responsibility. If there is no pressure from consumers then Apple does not need to care about criticism from the public."



"Apple has its code of conduct, but that is merely a piece of paper without a mechanism to enforce those standards," she continued. "When we demand that Apple should fix the problem, it's not just because Apple is under the spotlight, but it's also because we hope to hold Apple accountable because the company has publicly pledged lots of things, like that they will ensure decent working conditions at its suppliers."



To its credit, Apple has made some moves toward greater transparency with its supply chain as it looks to curb worker rights abuses and environmental violations in addition to its decision to join the FLA. One well-known Chinese environmental activist revealed earlier this week that Apple had agreed to allow his organization to audit two of its suppliers. Apple also released a public list of its suppliers last month for the first time. In addition, the company allowed Nightline an unprecedented look at iPhone and iPad production lines.



[ View article on AppleInsider ]

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Comments

  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    1) Weir spoke to someone admittedly 17yo. Why is that too young? I was in college and living and working full time on my own at age 17.



    2) With so many people vying for jobs at Foxconn why would Foxconn have to hire underage workers that would violate laws and/or contracts?
  • macky the mackymacky the macky Posts: 4,621member
    It sounded like a lot of what a "friend of a friend saw" and not any kind of proof that what Chan is stating like it is fact, is anything other than rumors. Repeating a lie doesn't make it the truth. Besides everyone in the factory is wearing masks, how would an Apple executive know if those eyes peeking out between the hat and the mask were 16, 17, or even 26, or 27?
  • povilaspovilas Posts: 473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post


    It sounded like a lot of what a "friend of a friend saw" and not any kind of proof that what Chan is stating like it is fact, is anything other than rumors. Repeating a lie doesn't make it the truth. Besides everyone in the factory is wearing masks, how would an Apple executive know if those eyes peeking out between the hat and the mask were 16, 17, or even 26, or 27?



    IS this really so hard to believe? I think not and Apple is also not all ice cream and candy.
  • povilaspovilas Posts: 473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


    1) Weir spoke to someone admittedly 17yo. Why is that too young? I was in college and living and working full time on my own at age 17.



    2) With so many people vying for jobs at Foxconn why would Foxconn have to hire underage workers that would violate laws and/or contracts?



    Somewhat different from where you live and Chine, don't you think.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Povilas View Post


    Somewhat different from where you live and Chine, don't you think.



    So tell me why 17yo can't work in China and how Weir talked to a 17yo if they are not allowed to work and were apparently locked away from the investigators.
  • technarchytechnarchy Posts: 296member
    This whole affair isn't about China, it's about America. The unions, regulators, and taxes have driven labor abroad, and now they want to piss all over China to somehow force those jobs back. Not going to happen.



    Our government and special interest groups have made manufacturing and labor impossible in the USA, which has utterly destroyed the middle class.



    China wont make our mistakes, and they will continue to thrive. So before we start pointing fingers, remember how you voted in the last election first and blame yourself.
  • apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,057
    I'm assuming if anybody is between 16-18 and working, then they are doing it because they want to and they are getting paid adequately, so what's the problem again? There are probably many in that age who would love to have such an opportunity, if the alternatives are far worse or none at all.



    Do I give two shits if the worker assembling my iPad 3 is 17 or 18 or 19 or 20? No, I do not.



    Are there any prepubescent children working there? Is anybody chained to the walls? Well, then there is no problem at all.



    Maybe if the activist morons can get these workers fired, perhaps a few of the fired workers will proceed to blow their brains out in sheer desperation, because they no longer have any job or income, thanks to some hypocritical, ignorant activists who think that they know best. Maybe their whole family will starve too. Yep, that sounds like a real noble goal.



    All of this China/Apple news and rumors is quite comical and also pathetic, as it's merely media hype.
  • realisticrealistic Posts: 1,111member
    No matter what Apple does it will never be enough, as someone will always find something to complain about. No factory or company is perfect, there is and always will be room for improvement. Who can and / or who should determine what is enough as everybody and every country has different standards and expectations?
  • apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,057
    Haha. Fuck these pathetic fools.







    Many student workers report that after repeating the same motion thousands of times a day, they feel like machines.



    No fucking kidding! You work in a factory, you dipshits! That's what people do! My Grandmother and Grandfather used to both work in a factory a long time ago. My Grandfather worked in a factory for decades. That's what fucking people do in factories. Jeez, these people are dumber than a rotten sack of potatoes.
  • technarchytechnarchy Posts: 296member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post


    I'm assuming if anybody is between 16-18 and working, then they are doing it because they want to and they are getting paid adequately, so what's the problem again? There are probably many in that age who would love to have such an opportunity, if the alternatives are far worse or none at all.



    Do I give two shits if the worker assembling my iPad 3 is 17 or 18 or 19 or 20? No, I do not.



    Are there any prepubescent children working there? Is anybody chained to the walls? Well, then there is no problem at all.



    Maybe if the activist morons can get these workers fired, perhaps a few of the fired workers will proceed to blow their brains out in sheer desperation, because they no longer have any job or income, thanks to some hypocritical, ignorant activists who think that they know best. Maybe their whole family will starve too. Yep, that sounds like a real noble goal.



    All of this China/Apple news and rumors is quite comical and also pathetic, as it's merely media hype.



    I think most of these big city liberal activist types don't understand anything outside of their academia circles.



    And you are correct. I didn't see any walls or machine guns holding people in.



    Clearly people would rather work hard for Foxconn than eat cat meat and rice in some shit hole Chinese country village.



    China is a glorified 3rd world nation. No wonder thousands line up for work. I would too.



    Also, all these leftists union morons need to get it through their noggin, Apple is not bringing those jobs here. They can do this smear campaign all day and night, never going to happen.
  • evilutionevilution Posts: 979member
    The simple answer is to fully automate the system, replace them with robots and then they'll be wishing they could repeat the same action over and over again.
  • monstrositymonstrosity Posts: 2,075member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post


    Maybe if the activist morons can get these workers fired, perhaps a few of the fired workers will proceed to blow their brains out in sheer desperation, because they no longer have any job or income, thanks to some hypocritical, ignorant activists who think that they know best. Maybe their whole family will starve too. Yep, that sounds like a real noble goal.




    Oh precisely. 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions' as they say.



    These people lack the brain power to perceive that the consequences of their actions are quite the opposite of what they hope to achieve.
  • redbarchettaredbarchetta Posts: 149member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Povilas View Post


    IS this really so hard to believe? I think not and Apple is also not all ice cream and candy.



    Cognitive dissonance is a powerful force.
  • realisticrealistic Posts: 1,111member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post


    Haha. Fuck these pathetic fools.







    Many student workers report that after repeating the same motion thousands of times a day, they feel like machines.



    No fucking kidding! You work in a factory, you dipshits! That's what people do! My Grandmother and Grandfather used to both work in a factory a long time ago. My Grandfather worked in a factory for decades. That's what fucking people do in factories. Jeez, these people are dumber than a rotten sack of potatoes.



    Are you saying that most factory jobs in China aren't white collar jobs? Jeez, what's up with that?
  • mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,650member, moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    "In Zhengzhou, the basic salary of new workers is CNY 1350 ($214)," Chan said. "And there is a deduction of CNY 150 ($24) for the dorm. If a worker eats inside the factory, there is another CNY 200-300 ($32-48) to pay. It is far from the living wage standard. Without overtime premiums, a worker can hardly support his/herself."



    Wow. Chan really sucks at basic arithmetic! $214 - $24 - $48 = $142. In other words, with no overtime, workers have almost exactly two-thirds of their pay packet left after paying for accommodation and food. So how exactly is that "hardly supporting his/herself"? It's also interesting that her numbers (wage, accommodation costs and food costs) are all different from those reported by Nightline.
  • mgsarchmgsarch Posts: 50member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post


    Wow. Chan really sucks at basic arithmetic! $214 - $24 - $48 = $142. In other words, with no overtime, workers have almost exactly two-thirds of their pay packet left after paying for accommodation and food. So how exactly is that "hardly supporting his/herself"? It's also interesting that her numbers (wage, accommodation costs and food costs) are all different from those reported by Nightline.



    $142? Only 3.5 years to buy an iPad? Really?
  • mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,650member, moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mgsarch View Post


    other meals? other expenses? $142? really?



    Yes, really. Costs in China don't equal costs in the U.S. Can you get accommodation in the U.S. for $24 a month? or all your meals for $48 a month?



    Two-thirds of your pay packet left after paying for accommodation and meals is not "hardly supporting yourself".
  • realitycheck69realitycheck69 Posts: 83member
    Disney Corporation owns the ABC News network. The fact that the Steve Jobs Trust is Disney?s largest individual shareholder, coupled with Disney CEO Bob Iger now having a seat on Apple?s board of directors, certainly helped win the official approval from Apple. It also raises questions on a possible conflict of interest with this report.





    Hopefully justice is brought to these workers.
  • mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,650member, moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by realitycheck69 View Post


    Hopefully justice is brought to these workers.



    And what exactly is "justice" for these workers?



    If Foxconn closed, the lives of everyone working there and their families would get considerably worse. Why do people travel from all over the country to get a job at Foxconn? Why doesn't everyone quit after one or two weeks working there to get a better job?



    The facts are that the pay at Foxconn is good for the type of work involved and no-one is forced to work there against their will.



    However, I would say that I think the hours are high and living accommodation could be substantially better. In terms of conditions for workers, I would like to see Apple put their money where their mouth is and spend some of their $100 billion on funding improvements to accommodation at Foxconn and their other OEM partners (if Apple spent $500 million on this they'd still have $99.5 billion left in the bank and the accommodation would be amazing).
  • iplaidiplaid Posts: 10member
    "She also said that a recent raise from Foxconn was not enough to provide livable wages to its workers."



    How are the wages not livable? Not only do they support the workers with food and shelter, but a significant portion goes back to the villages to improve the lives of their families. Will they be making livable wages if Foxconn adopts robots to do their jobs?
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