Foxconn used five times more temp workers than permitted for 'iPhone 11' assembly surge

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 9
After Foxconn violated Chinese labor laws in regards to temporary worker volume, Apple has investigated and is working to resolve the situation.

One of Foxconn's major offices
One of Foxconn's major offices


Apple has confirmed a claim that its major iPhone manufacturer Foxconn has employed too many temporary staff. The country's laws specify that temporary staff -- also known as dispatch workers -- cannot exceed 10% of a company's total workforce. However, Foxconn reportedly had up to 50%.

The non-profit watchdog organization China Labor Watch issued a report saying that it had received complaints about working conditions, including overtime, at Foxconn's Zhengzhou factory.

"Apple and Foxconn know that the issue with dispatch workers is in violation of labor laws, but because it is profitable to hire dispatch workers, they haven't addressed the issue," said Li Qiang, executive director of China Labor Watch. "They have allowed these violations to continue over the years."

While not addressing whether this constitutes breaking Chinese laws, Apple said that it had investigated the issue and concluded that it "exceeded our standards."

"To make sure our highstandards are being adhered to, we have robust management systems inplace beginning with training on workplace rights, on-site workerinterviews, anonymous grievance channels and ongoing audits," continued Apple.

Apple further said that it was working with Foxconn to "immediately resolve the issue" of temporary staff. And regarding the overtime working conditions, the company said that "this issue has been corrected."

Foxconn said that it was addressing all issues.

"We did find evidence that the use of dispatch workers and the number of hours of overtime work carried out by employees, which we have confirmed was always voluntary, was not consistent with company guidelines," continued Foxconn in a statement.

Neither company has addressed China Labor Watch's further claims about alleged verbal abuse, sexual harassment, and exposure to toxic chemicals.

The report specifies that Foxconn's use of temporary staff is during peak production season for Apple's iPhones. Foxconn has been recruiting over the summer to prepare for the manufacture of the iPhones which are due to be unveiled on September 10.

This report also comes at a time when US/China relations are under strain and companies, including Apple, are planning to move production away from the Chinese mainland.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 51
    "exceeded our standards." is meaningless.

    If the standard is a minimum, then exceeding the standard is good ("we are better than our minimum").

    If the standard is a maximum, then it's bad (the level reached is too high).

    Of course, they mean the second, but it's not clear from the statement.
  • Reply 2 of 51
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,148moderator
    The motivation for the law is one of a societal goal, but it doesn’t seem to account for something like an annual spike in the need for labor by a company.  Therefore strict enforcement of such a law introduces inefficiencies.  

    Further, how does it harm any of the permanent employees or the 10% representing temporary workers to add one more temporary worker after you’ve reached the 10% threshold?  I’d doesn’t make sense.  If it’s harmful to have some quantity of temporary workers over some arbitrary limit, why isn’t it harmful to have even that initial 10%, why isn’t the very first temporary worker hire causing harm?  
    edited September 9 JWSCtht
  • Reply 3 of 51
    The motivation for the law is one of a societal goal, but it doesn’t seem to account for something like an annual spike in the need for labor by a company.  Therefore strict enforcement of such a law introduces inefficiencies.  

    Further, how does it harm any of the permanent employees or the 10% representing temporary workers to add one more temporary worker after you’ve reached the 10% threshold?  I’d doesn’t make sense.  If it’s harmful to have some quantity of temporary workers over some arbitrary limit, why isn’t it harmful to have even that initial 10%, why isn’t the very first temporary worker hire causing harm?  
    I won't pretend to know anything about Chinese labour laws but perhaps the limits on temporary workers is because they have fewer rights than permanent workers? There is a risk that companies permanently employ temporary workers and don't provide them with the same stability, benefits etc. Similar but not the same as the fight that Uber has about contractors vs employees.
    muthuk_vanalingampujones1GeorgeBMacviclauyycCarnage
  • Reply 4 of 51
    The motivation for the law is one of a societal goal, but it doesn’t seem to account for something like an annual spike in the need for labor by a company.  Therefore strict enforcement of such a law introduces inefficiencies.  

    Further, how does it harm any of the permanent employees or the 10% representing temporary workers to add one more temporary worker after you’ve reached the 10% threshold?  I’d doesn’t make sense.  If it’s harmful to have some quantity of temporary workers over some arbitrary limit, why isn’t it harmful to have even that initial 10%, why isn’t the very first temporary worker hire causing harm?  
    The law is there to prevent abuses and increase the quality of life of the workers.  It doesn't introduce inefficiencies; it introduces potentially higher production costs for the companies.  The annual spike in labor can be filled by those same workers.  Classify and pay them as permanent and not temporary and the problem no longer exists.  It does cost more because permanent workers typically have benefits and wages that are most often far greater than temps.  

    This isn't an honest question: 
    Further, how does it harm any of the permanent employees or the 10% representing temporary workers to add one more temporary worker after you’ve reached the 10% threshold?
     They didn't add one more temp.  They added 50% of their workforce as temps.  That's 40% more than allowed by law.  That's potentially lower wages, lesser benefits, and most importantly lower costs which feed higher profit.  The 10% may be an arbitrary number or there could be some data behind it, idk.  The ultimate goal is to raise the standard of living and quality of life for the Chinese people.   Making more of your citizens permanently employed goes a long way towards that goal.  The 10% is an understanding that there needs to be some flexibility built into the system.  Just my opinion.


    edited September 9 muthuk_vanalingamFileMakerFellerviclauyyc
  • Reply 5 of 51
    More detail on the complaint from CNBC -- whether founded or unfounded, but pertinent:

    "Workers earn a base wage of 2,100 yuan ($295), which is “insufficient to sustain the livelihood for a family living in Zhengzhou city,” according to the CLW report.

    The report also claims other rights violations at the factory including:

    • Workers at the factory put in “at least 100 overtime hours a month” during peak production seasons, even though Chinese labor law states they must not work more than 36 overtime hours a month. Resignations are not approved for regular workers during peak season.
    • Some dispatch workers* failed to receive bonuses promised to them from the dispatch company.
    • Student employees also work overtime during peak production season even though internship laws prohibit that.
    • The factory does not provide workers with adequate personal protective equipment and workers do not receive any occupational health and safety training.
    • The factory does not report work injuries."
    *  They use the term "dispatch workers" instead of "temporary workers" -- likely because they are paid and furnished by outside firms rather than employed by the company itself.  Many healthcare organizations in the U.S. employ the same tactic -- use workers employed by outside companies in order to evade workplace rules and worker rights.

    One thing that jumped out at me:   If you don;t make enough to live on, but live in a country without welfare, how can overtime ever be "voluntary"?    U.S. companies like Walmart and McDonald's do that -- but their workers typically get welfare to provide them with enough to live on.

    But, overall, this kind of thing -- misreatment of the workforce -- is reminiscent of how workers were treated in U.S. prior to the 1930's -- until the Roosevelt administration enabled and empowered unions to fight back.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/09/apple-appl-claims-it-broke-china-labor-laws-at-iphone-factory-mostly-false.html


    muthuk_vanalingamFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 6 of 51
    Much ado about nothing. 

    This is just Apple moving production up as much as it can to preempt as much of the tariffs as it can. 

    If more companies are doing this — as I suspect they are — that’s really bad news for China. 
    chemengin1
  • Reply 7 of 51

    More detail on the complaint from CNBC -- whether founded or unfounded, but pertinent:

    "Workers earn a base wage of 2,100 yuan ($295), which is “insufficient to sustain the livelihood for a family living in Zhengzhou city,” according to the CLW report.

    The report also claims other rights violations at the factory including:

    • Workers at the factory put in “at least 100 overtime hours a month” during peak production seasons, even though Chinese labor law states they must not work more than 36 overtime hours a month. Resignations are not approved for regular workers during peak season.
    • Some dispatch workers* failed to receive bonuses promised to them from the dispatch company.
    • Student employees also work overtime during peak production season even though internship laws prohibit that.
    • The factory does not provide workers with adequate personal protective equipment and workers do not receive any occupational health and safety training.
    • The factory does not report work injuries."
    *  They use the term "dispatch workers" instead of "temporary workers" -- likely because they are paid and furnished by outside firms rather than employed by the company itself.  Many healthcare organizations in the U.S. employ the same tactic -- use workers employed by outside companies in order to evade workplace rules and worker rights.

    One thing that jumped out at me:   If you don;t make enough to live on, but live in a country without welfare, how can overtime ever be "voluntary"?    U.S. companies like Walmart and McDonald's do that -- but their workers typically get welfare to provide them with enough to live on.

    But, overall, this kind of thing -- misreatment of the workforce -- is reminiscent of how workers were treated in U.S. prior to the 1930's -- until the Roosevelt administration enabled and empowered unions to fight back.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/09/apple-appl-claims-it-broke-china-labor-laws-at-iphone-factory-mostly-false.html


    Big whoop. Nothing prevents them from going to work somewhere else.

    Unless you agree the trade war has really taken a toll on China and opportunities elsewhere have disappeared for Chinese workers. 
  • Reply 8 of 51

    More detail on the complaint from CNBC -- whether founded or unfounded, but pertinent:

    "Workers earn a base wage of 2,100 yuan ($295), which is “insufficient to sustain the livelihood for a family living in Zhengzhou city,” according to the CLW report.

    The report also claims other rights violations at the factory including:

    • Workers at the factory put in “at least 100 overtime hours a month” during peak production seasons, even though Chinese labor law states they must not work more than 36 overtime hours a month. Resignations are not approved for regular workers during peak season.
    • Some dispatch workers* failed to receive bonuses promised to them from the dispatch company.
    • Student employees also work overtime during peak production season even though internship laws prohibit that.
    • The factory does not provide workers with adequate personal protective equipment and workers do not receive any occupational health and safety training.
    • The factory does not report work injuries."
    *  They use the term "dispatch workers" instead of "temporary workers" -- likely because they are paid and furnished by outside firms rather than employed by the company itself.  Many healthcare organizations in the U.S. employ the same tactic -- use workers employed by outside companies in order to evade workplace rules and worker rights.

    One thing that jumped out at me:   If you don;t make enough to live on, but live in a country without welfare, how can overtime ever be "voluntary"?    U.S. companies like Walmart and McDonald's do that -- but their workers typically get welfare to provide them with enough to live on.

    But, overall, this kind of thing -- misreatment of the workforce -- is reminiscent of how workers were treated in U.S. prior to the 1930's -- until the Roosevelt administration enabled and empowered unions to fight back.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/09/apple-appl-claims-it-broke-china-labor-laws-at-iphone-factory-mostly-false.html


    Big whoop. Nothing prevents them from going to work somewhere else.

    Unless you agree the trade war has really taken a toll on China and opportunities elsewhere have disappeared for Chinese workers. 
    Yeh, that's what Carnegie and and the mine owners told their U.S. workers 100 years ago -- before we had unions and labor laws.   It worked well for the owners.   Not so well for the people.
    FileMakerFellerviclauyyc
  • Reply 9 of 51
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 1,025member
    I support workers no matter where they live and work. Labor laws are serious and none you Apple justifiers are correct when you say otherwise. Apple should not uses any suppliers or manufactures which does not obey those laws just so you can get new iPhone within days of its launch. 
    muthuk_vanalingamGeorgeBMacviclauyyc
  • Reply 10 of 51
    fred1fred1 Posts: 359member

    More detail on the complaint from CNBC -- whether founded or unfounded, but pertinent:

    "Workers earn a base wage of 2,100 yuan ($295), which is “insufficient to sustain the livelihood for a family living in Zhengzhou city,” according to the CLW report.

    The report also claims other rights violations at the factory including:

    • Workers at the factory put in “at least 100 overtime hours a month” during peak production seasons, even though Chinese labor law states they must not work more than 36 overtime hours a month. Resignations are not approved for regular workers during peak season.
    • Some dispatch workers* failed to receive bonuses promised to them from the dispatch company.
    • Student employees also work overtime during peak production season even though internship laws prohibit that.
    • The factory does not provide workers with adequate personal protective equipment and workers do not receive any occupational health and safety training.
    • The factory does not report work injuries."
    *  They use the term "dispatch workers" instead of "temporary workers" -- likely because they are paid and furnished by outside firms rather than employed by the company itself.  Many healthcare organizations in the U.S. employ the same tactic -- use workers employed by outside companies in order to evade workplace rules and worker rights.

    One thing that jumped out at me:   If you don;t make enough to live on, but live in a country without welfare, how can overtime ever be "voluntary"?    U.S. companies like Walmart and McDonald's do that -- but their workers typically get welfare to provide them with enough to live on.

    But, overall, this kind of thing -- misreatment of the workforce -- is reminiscent of how workers were treated in U.S. prior to the 1930's -- until the Roosevelt administration enabled and empowered unions to fight back.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/09/apple-appl-claims-it-broke-china-labor-laws-at-iphone-factory-mostly-false.html


    Big whoop. Nothing prevents them from going to work somewhere else.

    Unless you agree the trade war has really taken a toll on China and opportunities elsewhere have disappeared for Chinese workers. 
    Yeh, that's what Carnegie and and the mine owners told their U.S. workers 100 years ago -- before we had unions and labor laws.   It worked well for the owners.   Not so well for the people.
    Exactly. And people like Frick who believed enough in corporate gain to have workers protesting for decent conditions shot and killed. Big whoop? Really? Do you really not care at all about anyone but yourself? Can you even conceive of what it’s like to work there. And according to the BBC report, Apple stated that the workers “worked overtime voluntarily.” Yea , right: “Do you want to work overtime or lose your job? Your choice.” 
    I love Apple products, but all this talk by Apple of corporate responsibility and making the world a better place can’t apply only to the US. It has to apply to every country. 
    GeorgeBMacFileMakerFellerspice-boy
  • Reply 11 of 51
    The motivation for the law is one of a societal goal, but it doesn’t seem to account for something like an annual spike in the need for labor by a company.  Therefore strict enforcement of such a law introduces inefficiencies.  

    Further, how does it harm any of the permanent employees or the 10% representing temporary workers to add one more temporary worker after you’ve reached the 10% threshold?  I’d doesn’t make sense.  If it’s harmful to have some quantity of temporary workers over some arbitrary limit, why isn’t it harmful to have even that initial 10%, why isn’t the very first temporary worker hire causing harm?  
    The motivation for the law is one of a societal goal, but it doesn’t seem to account for something like an annual spike in the need for labor by a company.  Therefore strict enforcement of such a law introduces inefficiencies.  

    Further, how does it harm any of the permanent employees or the 10% representing temporary workers to add one more temporary worker after you’ve reached the 10% threshold?  I’d doesn’t make sense.  If it’s harmful to have some quantity of temporary workers over some arbitrary limit, why isn’t it harmful to have even that initial 10%, why isn’t the very first temporary worker hire causing harm?  
    The motivation for the law is one of a societal goal, but it doesn’t seem to account for something like an annual spike in the need for labor by a company.  Therefore strict enforcement of such a law introduces inefficiencies.  

    Further, how does it harm any of the permanent employees or the 10% representing temporary workers to add one more temporary worker after you’ve reached the 10% threshold?  I’d doesn’t make sense.  If it’s harmful to have some quantity of temporary workers over some arbitrary limit, why isn’t it harmful to have even that initial 10%, why isn’t the very first temporary worker hire causing harm?  
    The motivation for the law is one of a societal goal, but it doesn’t seem to account for something like an annual spike in the need for labor by a company.  Therefore strict enforcement of such a law introduces inefficiencies.  

    Further, how does it harm any of the permanent employees or the 10% representing temporary workers to add one more temporary worker after you’ve reached the 10% threshold?  I’d doesn’t make sense.  If it’s harmful to have some quantity of temporary workers over some arbitrary limit, why isn’t it harmful to have even that initial 10%, why isn’t the very first temporary worker hire causing harm?  
    It’s not just Apple, and it’s not just China. This is the dirty little secret that underpins profit for many companies worldwide. Temp workers are the drudges of today, often scrabbling to keep body and soul together for themselves and their families. I say this as a major Apple supporter and an investor with the majority of my retirement in AAPL who, coincidentally, has worked recently as a temporary worker for Apple. I even attended an Apple investor’s meeting and brought the subject up.

    That said, Apple temps are paid better, have better benefits, and have a better chance to be hired direct than other companies. But it’s not enough. And the safety net? Unemployment wages are a joke.

    The only realistic solution is for temporary workers to become decently paid with decent benefits year round, even if it means movng between several employers throughout the year with some kind of employer-supported fund to make up the balance. And it needs to be everywhere worldwide, so that no company or country can avoid their responsibility.

    Clearly, that’s not going to happen without leadership. Apple could be that leader, but thus far has chosen to generally go along with the crowd. Yes, it would cost money. But the goodwill it would engender is worth something too.
    edited September 9
  • Reply 12 of 51
    Yeh, that's what Carnegie and and the mine owners told their U.S. workers 100 years ago -- before we had unions and labor laws.  
    If unions are so hot, I am sure you can explain why this happened (btw, the graph for Europe is nearly identical):


    chemengin1JWSC
  • Reply 13 of 51
    Yeh, that's what Carnegie and and the mine owners told their U.S. workers 100 years ago -- before we had unions and labor laws.  
    If unions are so hot, I am sure you can explain why this happened (btw, the graph for Europe is nearly identical):


    Unions are the reason most workers enjoy the benefits they presently enjoy. I worked for a subsidiary of GM once as a white collar worker. Our benefits were based on those of GM’s blue collar workers. But the company I worked for was sold off piece by piece to non-union companies that paid less and had less benefits. This chart should not surprise anyone, under the circumstances. 

    Edit: I daresay you could find a corresponding chart that shows the money flowing out of the hands of the lower and middle class and into the hands of the upper class during this period....
    edited September 9 GeorgeBMacStrangeDaysFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 14 of 51
    fred1 said:

    More detail on the complaint from CNBC -- whether founded or unfounded, but pertinent:

    "Workers earn a base wage of 2,100 yuan ($295), which is “insufficient to sustain the livelihood for a family living in Zhengzhou city,” according to the CLW report.

    The report also claims other rights violations at the factory including:

    • Workers at the factory put in “at least 100 overtime hours a month” during peak production seasons, even though Chinese labor law states they must not work more than 36 overtime hours a month. Resignations are not approved for regular workers during peak season.
    • Some dispatch workers* failed to receive bonuses promised to them from the dispatch company.
    • Student employees also work overtime during peak production season even though internship laws prohibit that.
    • The factory does not provide workers with adequate personal protective equipment and workers do not receive any occupational health and safety training.
    • The factory does not report work injuries."
    *  They use the term "dispatch workers" instead of "temporary workers" -- likely because they are paid and furnished by outside firms rather than employed by the company itself.  Many healthcare organizations in the U.S. employ the same tactic -- use workers employed by outside companies in order to evade workplace rules and worker rights.

    One thing that jumped out at me:   If you don;t make enough to live on, but live in a country without welfare, how can overtime ever be "voluntary"?    U.S. companies like Walmart and McDonald's do that -- but their workers typically get welfare to provide them with enough to live on.

    But, overall, this kind of thing -- misreatment of the workforce -- is reminiscent of how workers were treated in U.S. prior to the 1930's -- until the Roosevelt administration enabled and empowered unions to fight back.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/09/apple-appl-claims-it-broke-china-labor-laws-at-iphone-factory-mostly-false.html


    Big whoop. Nothing prevents them from going to work somewhere else.

    Unless you agree the trade war has really taken a toll on China and opportunities elsewhere have disappeared for Chinese workers. 
    Yeh, that's what Carnegie and and the mine owners told their U.S. workers 100 years ago -- before we had unions and labor laws.   It worked well for the owners.   Not so well for the people.
    Exactly. And people like Frick who believed enough in corporate gain to have workers protesting for decent conditions shot and killed. Big whoop? Really? Do you really not care at all about anyone but yourself? Can you even conceive of what it’s like to work there. And according to the BBC report, Apple stated that the workers “worked overtime voluntarily.” Yea , right: “Do you want to work overtime or lose your job? Your choice.” 
    I love Apple products, but all this talk by Apple of corporate responsibility and making the world a better place can’t apply only to the US. It has to apply to every country. 
    Yeh, I was going to say Frick -- but not enough people know who he is or what his role was -- so I defaulted to the more recognizable Carnegie.   But they were both culpable:  When steel workers tried to organize, Carnegie sat in his safe Scottish enclave and ordered Frick to:  "Do what is necessary"...  Aside from the half dozen workers who died, ultimately it was Frick who was also shot (he took 5 bullets but still lived!)

    But, there is also a balance:  Frick and Carnegie brought thousands of refugees over from deplorable conditions and gave them a better (but still deplorable) life -- that eventually spawned the great American middle class union worker of the 50's, 60's and 70's.   I see the same process going on today in China and Asia.  

    I wish that there was an easy answer or an easier way.  I think Apple (and maybe Foxconn?) is threading that needle and walking that fine line.   (Or, maybe they are just as bad as Carnegie and Frick? -- The answer likely depends on which ideological side one falls on!)


  • Reply 15 of 51
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 551member
    CloudTalkin said:
    The law ... doesn't introduce inefficiencies; it introduces potentially higher production costs for the companies.  [...]
    Wha?!!  How are those two statements not mutually exclusive?
  • Reply 16 of 51
    sacto joe said:

    Edit: I daresay you could find a corresponding chart that shows the money flowing out of the hands of the lower and middle class and into the hands of the upper class during this period....
    Correlation =/= causation.
  • Reply 17 of 51

    sacto joe said:
    It’s not just Apple, and it’s not just China. This is the dirty little secret that underpins profit for many companies worldwide. 
    This is no secret, it is well-known.

    If your heart really bleeds (along with that of a couple of others here), I believe you should put your money where your mouth is, and: (i) Not buy the company's products/services; (ii) Not buy the company's stock.

    People who do otherwise are simply enablers of a system that they (apparently) vehemently despise. I'd go as far to say, they're being hypocritical.
    edited September 9 lkruppJWSC
  • Reply 18 of 51
    sacto joe said:

    Edit: I daresay you could find a corresponding chart that shows the money flowing out of the hands of the lower and middle class and into the hands of the upper class during this period....
    Correlation  doesn't always = causation, but it often does.
    Fixed that for you!
    muthuk_vanalingamStrangeDays
  • Reply 19 of 51
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,457member
    The general American and developed world’s public don’t give a rat’s ass about Chinese labor laws. Just keep those cheap tech, clothes, and appliances coming for us to buy. And I have to chuckle a little about the faux concern over the labor laws of a totalitarian communist dictatorship when it comes to Apple and Foxconn. What about the  Chinese sweatshops that make your shoes, shirts, and cheap home decorating trinkets? What about the forced relocation of entire populations to make way for government projects like the Three Gorges Dam? What about the growing pollution in China with numerous coal fired power plants coming online each month it seems?

    But OMG, Foxconn hired more temporary workers than it was allowed to, and OMG! Apple knew about it. That’s headline worthy news for the NYT, not China’s punitive trade practices and well documented theft of IP.

    Sure, it’s an issue to be dealt with but how's about we talk about the abuse of immigrant workers in the U.S. and their low wages, working conditions, and undocumented status first and then what is happening in China. 
    edited September 9 anantksundaramJWSC
  • Reply 20 of 51
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,457member

    spice-boy said:
    I support workers no matter where they live and work. Labor laws are serious and none you Apple justifiers are correct when you say otherwise. Apple should not uses any suppliers or manufactures which does not obey those laws just so you can get new iPhone within days of its launch. 
    But you would scream bloody murder if your Chinese products went up in price because of those laborers getting paid better. Everybody is already screaming bloody murder over tariffs raising the price of Chinese goods. I can’t imagine how outraged you would be if automation eliminated most of those laborer’s jobs altogether. Apparently NYC mayor Bill de Blasio is blathering about a “robot tax” that would punish companies who eliminate jobs with automation. 
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