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Foxconn Labor Report Reveals Overworked Conditions

By - Source: Reuters | B 30 comments

The FLA has returned from Foxconn with its investigative report, and it's not pretty.

The Fair Labor Association (FLA) has finally returned from Foxconn after investigating allegations of improper labor practices against the manufacturer. Hired on by Apple, the watchdog group drilled over 35,000 anonymous Foxconn employees over the course of 3,000 hours. What the FLA learned was both good and bad.

For starters, there was no sign of underage workers, or "child slaves," despite other reports and rumors. The wages were paid on time too, and surprisingly above the applicable legal rates in China. According to the report, the legal minimum wage in Shenzhen is RMB1500, while the starting wage at Foxconn is RMB1800. After the probation period, wages go up to about RMB2200. Still, 64.3-percent of workers thought that their salary was not sufficient to cover their basic needs.

Now for the negative. The FLA discovered that workers building Apple products were being overworked. More specifically, all three factories exceeded the FLA Code Standard and the requirements of the Chinese labor law at some point in the last 12 months. During peak production periods, the average number of hours worked per week exceeded the FLA Code Standard of 60 hours. Also, there were periods in which some workers did not get one day off in seven days. Thing is, 48-percent thought that their working hours were reasonable, and another 33.8-percent stated that they would like to work more hours and make more money.

The report also stated that it's just not the employees working long hours, it's the interns too. Normally they're not to exceed eight hours per day, five days per week. They're also not supposed to work seven days straight, or receive insurance or other benefits. After all, they're interns -- it's not a paid job, it just pays with experience.

"Our assessors found that interns worked both overtime and night shifts, violations of the regulations governing internships," the report states. "Foxconn provides interns with work-related injury and health insurance, and personal accident and liability insurance is provided by their schools. Under Chinese labor law, interns are not defined as employees and legally, no employment relationship exists between the factory and the interns. This means that the general protections of the labor law do not apply to interns, including the social security benefits that normal workers receive. While regulations applying to interns exist in Guangdong Province and the Ministry of Education has issued policy regarding interns, their employment status remains vague and represents a major risk."

The report also states that the unions were broken, with the majority of the members of union committees drawn from the ranks of management. Foxconn was also found not to be doing enough to protect its workers. Safety and health committees were management dominated and did not engage in workers, and were mostly reactive rather than proactively monitoring conditions.''

The full report can be accessed via Scribd here.

During Nightline which airs on ABC tonight at 11:35 PM EST, the report will reveal Foxconn's promise to cut hours in compliance with both FLA and Chinese law.

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  • 24 Hide
    zulutech , March 29, 2012 11:35 PM
    frozonicLets be honest....who REALLY CARES about their working condintions? exactly, nobody other that themselves, if they are not happy with their work, they should just quit, and if the have to work in there even if they dont want to but the money then do not complain about it, life isnt fair and its only good for the strong ones.

    You're a dick.
  • 15 Hide
    xAlex79 , March 30, 2012 12:07 AM
    therabiddeerI dont get how this is "overworked" conditions. I work 60 hours a week in AMERICA, and frequently work 7 days a week. I get paid to do it and I often choose to do it. There are tons of people that work that many hours each week.Hell, especially in the tech industry, 40 hours a week is bordering on uncommon these days across the globe.


    That right here proves how much the corporations have taken from the average person. When people actually accept working 60 hours 7 days a week and think of it as "normal" or "needed".

    Then again we are the ones giving the corporations all that power over our lives being the good little consumers that we are...
  • 10 Hide
    _Cubase_ , March 30, 2012 3:28 AM
    frozonicLets be honest....who REALLY CARES about their working condintions? exactly, nobody other that themselves, if they are not happy with their work, they should just quit, and if the have to work in there even if they dont want to but the money then do not complain about it, life isnt fair and its only good for the strong ones.


    Steve? Is that you?
Other Comments
  • 8 Hide
    A Bad Day , March 29, 2012 11:21 PM
    Pay: Above China's minimum
    Hours: Acceptable by some
    Safety: "We're going to use neurotoxic cleaning agents because they faster and save us money. Buy your own gas masks."
  • 24 Hide
    zulutech , March 29, 2012 11:35 PM
    frozonicLets be honest....who REALLY CARES about their working condintions? exactly, nobody other that themselves, if they are not happy with their work, they should just quit, and if the have to work in there even if they dont want to but the money then do not complain about it, life isnt fair and its only good for the strong ones.

    You're a dick.
  • 15 Hide
    xAlex79 , March 30, 2012 12:07 AM
    therabiddeerI dont get how this is "overworked" conditions. I work 60 hours a week in AMERICA, and frequently work 7 days a week. I get paid to do it and I often choose to do it. There are tons of people that work that many hours each week.Hell, especially in the tech industry, 40 hours a week is bordering on uncommon these days across the globe.


    That right here proves how much the corporations have taken from the average person. When people actually accept working 60 hours 7 days a week and think of it as "normal" or "needed".

    Then again we are the ones giving the corporations all that power over our lives being the good little consumers that we are...
  • 3 Hide
    azrealhk , March 30, 2012 12:23 AM
    Foxconn does not only make Apple products.
    But when a big company like Apple places a big order, gives a tight deadline, low profit margin, and high yield requirements, any company (not just in China) will need to use drastic measures or lose the bid.
    this kind of labor is not a common as you think in China. Most manufacturers I am sure do not overwork their employees unless for no reason. I have been to a few manufacturing plants in China and they work shifts and change shifts on time.
    I guess when you have a tight deadline, some bosses take shortcuts.
    Apple must take a portion of the blame as well, and not pretend it is the fault of FoxConn only.
  • 1 Hide
    A Bad Day , March 30, 2012 12:53 AM
    xAlex79That right here proves how much the corporations have taken from the average person. When people actually accept working 60 hours 7 days a week and think of it as "normal" or "needed".Then again we are the ones giving the corporations all that power over our lives being the good little consumers that we are...


    You should take a tour of Caterpillar's production facility in Decatur, Illinois. Machinery workers have a tendency of doing only around 4 hours of work per day and waste the other four hours on excessive breaks.

    First shift starts, workers waste about an hour milling around before starting their job, talking, getting coffee, etc. 60 minutes wasted.

    Morning break, 15 minutes. It gets dragged into about 30 minutes. 15 minutes wasted.

    Lunch at noon, 30 minutes. It starts 30 minutes early because most of the workers line up early. It gets dragged into about one hour. Total time wasted is around 60 minutes.

    Afternoon break, 15 minutes. It gets dragged into about 30 minutes. 15 minutes wasted.

    Around 2:30 PM, work slows overall because at 3 PM, second shift starts. Many of the machinery workers have a mentality of that whatever don't get finished will get picked up by the second shift workers. 30 minutes wasted.

    Then let's not forget about frequent micro-breaks, consisting of coffee/bathroom breaks, conversations, and etc.

    That's why my mom, an account at the facility, hates labor unions. She gets to crunch numbers and only take vacations when it's not busy, especially when the quarterly or yearly financial reports are due. A walk across the facility, and you have employees that are milling around.

    And yet the labor union demands more pay, less hours, and etc.


    Now head to West Lafayette, Indiana. The Caterpillar's production facility there is significantly more productive because workers have a different mentality. Work hard, so you can get want you want.
  • -1 Hide
    gwwerner , March 30, 2012 12:56 AM
    Quote:
    That right here proves how much the corporations have taken from the average person. When people actually accept working 60 hours 7 days a week and think of it as "normal" or "needed".

    The ability to work 40 hours a week and have more than enough money to cover the essentials is a relatively recent occurrence. Throughout much of history people have worked more than 60 hours a week just to eat and have a place to live. Nobody today has to work more than 40 hours a week. If your company wants you to work overtime and you don't want to, you can get a different job. Today people choose to work overtime because it enables them to have a nicer house, nicer cars, and more toys. It all depends on how much you value free time.
  • 5 Hide
    Khimera2000 , March 30, 2012 1:25 AM
    gwwernerThe ability to work 40 hours a week and have more than enough money to cover the essentials is a relatively recent occurrence. Throughout much of history people have worked more than 60 hours a week just to eat and have a place to live. Nobody today has to work more than 40 hours a week. If your company wants you to work overtime and you don't want to, you can get a different job. Today people choose to work overtime because it enables them to have a nicer house, nicer cars, and more toys. It all depends on how much you value free time.


    I remember reading "the Jungle" to, and I remember thinking that if we went back to a world like that a lot of people would be dying just like back then. Remember the radium girls? Just because it happened in the past does not mean its right. Some might not mind having fingers in there pickles, or knowing that someone had to die for there new Rolex, I personally do not want the US to laps back on that, and there's no way in #e!! that its acceptable any where knowing what it does.
  • -1 Hide
    boiler1990 , March 30, 2012 1:31 AM
    Now head to West Lafayette, Indiana. The Caterpillar's production facility there is significantly more productive because workers have a different mentality. Work hard, so you can get want you want.


    Boiler Up!
  • 5 Hide
    chindoboi , March 30, 2012 1:39 AM
    therabiddeerI dont get how this is "overworked" conditions. I work 60 hours a week in AMERICA, and frequently work 7 days a week. I get paid to do it and I often choose to do it. There are tons of people that work that many hours each week.Hell, especially in the tech industry, 40 hours a week is bordering on uncommon these days across the globe.


    Here's the thing.... I dare you to do it for 2200RMB per month.
  • -5 Hide
    Manos , March 30, 2012 1:58 AM
    "Still, 64.3-percent of workers thought that their salary was not sufficient to cover their basic needs."

    No shit, stop buying Apple products and you will have a savings account the week after...
  • 1 Hide
    therabiddeer , March 30, 2012 2:07 AM
    chindoboiHere's the thing.... I dare you to do it for 2200RMB per month.

    While the conversion from RMB to USD is not that great, you arent looking at the buying power of RMB inside of china.

    While 10RMB is only about $1.58, you can buy 2 days of breakfast and 2 magazines. Bus fare is 1 RMB each way.
  • 10 Hide
    _Cubase_ , March 30, 2012 3:28 AM
    frozonicLets be honest....who REALLY CARES about their working condintions? exactly, nobody other that themselves, if they are not happy with their work, they should just quit, and if the have to work in there even if they dont want to but the money then do not complain about it, life isnt fair and its only good for the strong ones.


    Steve? Is that you?
  • 1 Hide
    olaf , March 30, 2012 4:11 AM
    let's stop hiding behind our fingers, how do you think they archive cheap labor there or anywhere else? long hours and low pay. however it is probably still a better job then most others. not everyone can get a high paying office job.
  • -2 Hide
    kinggremlin , March 30, 2012 4:19 AM
    frozonicLets be honest....who REALLY CARES about their working condintions? exactly, nobody other that themselves, if they are not happy with their work, they should just quit, and if the have to work in there even if they dont want to but the money then do not complain about it, life isnt fair and its only good for the strong ones.


    You may have been rated down into oblivion, but you are right, at least for the first part. Despite what people here say, none of them give a crap about some poorly treated factory workers in China. Sure you are going to say you do, so don't appear to be a dick, but none of you are losing any sleep over this or actually doing anything of substance to help improve the working conditions for those workers. You say you care so long as you are not inconvenienced by actually having to help them or pay more for Apple products (which most of you already complain are too expensive) so they can make a higher wage.

    I don't agree with the 2nd part of your post though. Very few people would be going to work no matter where they live if they didn't need money to buy the things necessary to stay alive. Just because you don't like the place you work, doesn't mean you can't just quit and find a better job somewhere else. That's just a stupid and unrealistic train of thought.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , March 30, 2012 8:08 AM
    Working 60+ hr a week isn't what's wrong, it's breaking the law is what the problem is. If people can't stomach the thought of working 60+ hr weeks (I've done 100+ hr weeks plenty of times), then they shouldn't worry about what other people are doing.

    If I were going to get paid by the hour and I could work extra hours (most of these employees 60+ hr weeks are voluntary), you bet I'd put in more hours for extra pay.

    Again, it's the breaking the law part that is the problem.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , March 30, 2012 8:34 AM
    " . . . watchdog group drilled over 35,000 anonymous Foxconn employees over the course of 3,000 hours."

    wow one minute and 40 second interviews. that is some in-depth investigating.
  • 1 Hide
    lockhrt999 , March 30, 2012 9:34 AM
    I once worked for 72 hours in 3days, without consuming any caffeine. Didn't sleep a bit. Only took launch/dinner and loo breaks. Next 7 days I was in bed fallen severely to illness.
    Now that I've grown up I can only laugh at myself.
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