updated 10:15 am EST, Fri February 17, 2012
Foxconn institutes third recent pay raise
Foxconn on Friday significantly raised pay for its floor workers in China for the third time in about one and a half years. An entry-level factory worker in Foxconn's main facilities at Shenzhen would now get between 16 to 25 percent more pay per month depending on whether or not the person passed a technical test. The pay would be equivalent to 1,800 yuan ($286) base or 2,200 yuan ($349) with the certification.
While very low by Western standards, the pay was already "far higher" than minimum wage requirements in Chinese provinces, Foxconn said. Three years earlier, pay had been as low as 900 yuan ($143) a month. More training and technology would come to the plants to "set a good example" for how Chinese production should work, according to the company.
Whether deliberate or not, the pay raise conspicuously followed Apple's stepped-up auditing plans. Although audits showed a glowing early reaction to Foxconn's plant conditions, the company is now under increased scrutiny to prove that it treats workers fairly.
Pay raises have also been partly criticized as disingenuous and not addressing core issues of hours worked, not pay. In spite of claims about overtime definitions, Foxconn supervisors are believed to be asking for too many hours. Common descriptions of conditions have had at least some staff working 12-hour days for six days a week, leaving them with little time to relax or socialize.
It's not clear if the raises were prompted by Apple. Despite some public perceptions, Foxconn isn't exclusive to Apple and also makes products for Dell, HP, Microsoft, Nintendo, Nokia, Sony, and others. The raises also don't address working conditions at other contractors used by the rest of the industry that often work in similar conditions.