updated 11:28 am EDT, Thu May 31, 2012
Bosses imposing 'humiliating' discipline on workers, group says
Little has changed at Foxconn since it and Apple agreed to make changes in the wake of a Fair Labor Association report, says Student & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour. The activist group recently visited several Foxconn factories and interviewed 170 workers, and claims that rights violations "remain the norm," involving high production targets, inhumane treatment, and evidence of broad salary cuts. "The frontline management continue to impose humiliating disciplinary measures on workers," a SACOM report reads.
The group charges that even though basic pay has increased, overall salaries have dropped after the reduction in overtime. Some workers are nevertheless being saddled with unpaid overtime as they try to meet higher production quotas.
Geoffrey Crothall of China Labour Bulletin, another activist group, says that he hasn't seen "any real evidence of any significant changes" at Foxconn. "At the moment they're just tinkering around the edges and doing PR stunts...I don't think there's a short term fix to the situation at Foxconn. It's too big, it's too complicated."
Crothall suggests that Foxconn could improve its situation by allowing truly representative unions. "If they can move towards a more democratic system where the workers have a voice in their pay and conditions...you'll find a much more content workforce."
Reuters quotes one employee surnamed Wang, who has worked at a Foxconn complex in Guanlan making iPhones and other products for the past two years. "The work pressure is still great," he comments. "There hasn't been much change. We are still being pushed very hard." Another anonymous worker is said to back up Wang's statements.
Foxconn is defending its position, saying it will cooperate with the FLA to improve conditions. "The welfare of our employees is without a doubt our top priority and we are working hard to give our more than one million employees in China a safe and positive working environment," an email statement reads. Last month, however, Foxconn chairman Terry Gou openly used the term "sweatshops" when referring to his company. "What's wrong with sweatshops?" he asked Chinese workers visiting Taiwan. "We toil hard with blood and sweat, so long as we don't break any laws. I believe in reaping what you sow," he added.