With a surge of suicides dragging the company's policies and working environment into the spotlight once again, Foxconn is eager to convince the world that whatever the reason for the suicide cluster, employment conditions are not to blame.
A recent undercover report revealed the hours employees work, more often than not working overtime just to make a halfway decent wage.
Report by 22-year-old Liu Zhiyi:
Each employee would sign a "voluntary overtime affidavit," in order to waive the 36-hour legal limit on your monthly overtime hours. This isn't a bad thing, though, as many workers think that only factories that offer more overtime are "good factories," because "without overtime, you can hardly make a living." For the workers desperate for making money, overtime is like "a pain that can breathe:" without it, the days without money make them "suffocate;" with it, the restless work would only add more "pain" to the body, thus aging quicker. Most of the time they staunchly choose the latter, but even the right to choose such isn't available to all. Only those with the seniors' "trust," with good connections, or those in key positions, can often get to work overtime.
When chatting with them, I often struggled to respond, as I felt I was ridiculously fortunate. They actually envied those who could take a leave due to work injury, while casually joking about how their station's been toxicated. When talking about their colleagues' suicidal jumps, there was often a surprisingly calm reaction, and sometimes even a banter would be made about it, as if they were all outsiders.
When the report surfaced, many people commented on how terrible it must be to work in a factory where the conditions remsemble that of a sweatshop. Foxconn CEO Guo Tai-ming yesterday released a statement to the Chinese press addressing the suicide cluster and denied that he is running a sweatshop.
"We believe that we are definitely not a sweatshop. It's very difficult to manage a manufacturing team of 800,000 something," he said, according to Engadget. "With the others around the world it adds up to almost 900,000, so there's a lot to be done every day. However, we believe that we'll soon be able to stabilize this situation."
Foxconn has hired roughly 50 councilors to help with the suicide situation. Another, more recent undercover report by three men who managed to secure jobs at Foxconn claims that employees are often verbally abused by managers and randomly deduct pay from their performance bonuses. They say Foxconn has been losing 50,000 employees per month for the last three months and that the company, so desperate to keep numbers up, has all but dropped recruitment standards (such as needing a secondary education). Now, all you need is to show them your ID.