updated 01:30 pm EDT, Mon May 31, 2010
Said to stem from internal investigation
Apple is planning to redistribute some of its product profits back to Foxconn workers, claims a Chinese news site. Foxconn is one of principal manufacturers of Apple hardware, but has been accused of maintaining sweatshop-like conditions, with low pay and mandatory overtime, including hours so long that workers only have time to sleep and eat outside of their shifts. At least nine Foxconn workers have successfully killed themselves in recent months.
The change in Apple policy is said to be the result of a corporate investigation exploring the connections between suicides and factory working conditions. Low wages have allegedly been identified as the major problem, and so Apple is now reported to be redirecting between 1 and 2 percent of its device profits back to Foxconn workers in the form of a direct subsidy. The first product to fall under this program should be the iPad; while Apple has been paying Foxconn about 2.3 percent of the price of an iPad, this number is expected to increase to 3 percent, roughly the cost of the aluminum back.
Foxconn may be under intense pressure from Apple to deliver large shipments. Even though the latter company has sold over 2 million iPads to date, demand is still going unmet, and the number of countries with the tablet is only scheduled to expand. Still more work is likely underway for the fourth-generation iPhone and other products.