updated 08:30 am EST, Wed March 7, 2012
China labor minister may clamp down on standards
China labor minister Yin Weimin in statements to the media hinted the government might crack down on labor abuse issues at companies like Foxconn. He noted with Reuters in earshot that some unnamed foreign companies, while usually law-abiding, were guilty of mandating too much overtime, underpaying, and a "lack of concern for people." Officials would "step up guidance" and more tightly monitor what was happening, although he wasn't specific on a course of action.
"Relevant government departments and unions will increase their supervision and management," Yin said, adding that violators would be "severely investigated."
Foxconn and others like it have increasingly been subject to private audits bringing more of their issues to light. Critics have partly blamed continued problems on a lack of government enforcement. While plant managers are known to hide more egregious abuses during corporate inspections, the government is supposed to be more aware of persistent issues and to take action that Apple or another client can't.
The government itself precludes non-official labor unions and limits striking, preventing the employees themselves from offering as much of a challenge on their own. More recent protests, such as those at an Xbox 360 plant, have resorted to suicide threats where they might have been shut down through traditional resistance.