Bleeding hearts the world over are very happy with the news that Apple and Foxconn are working together to make employee working conditions better in their Chinese factories. But there is a group of people who aren’t so pleased about the reductions in working hours: the workers themselves.
Foxconn employees interviewed by Reuters are concerned at the reduction in opportunities to work overtime. Working hours will be reduced to 49 hours per week, including overtime, and the workers are pissed.
Chen Yamei, a 25-year-old worker at the Apple plant, said to Reuters “We have just been told that we can only work a maximum of 36 hours a month of overtime. I tell you, a lot of us are unhappy with this. We think that 60 hours of overtime a month would be reasonable and that 36 hours would be too little.”
Apparently, when you’re not working, Foxconn is a pretty dull place to be. You can hang out and play video games, watch TV or spend time in your cramped dorm. But mostly people are here to work and make as much money as possible.
It’s not all bad. Much of the worry stems from the fact that workers don’t believe Foxconn when it promises that less hours doesn’t mean less money. Employees will be paid the same for fewer hours, it says.
We’ll have to wait until the new rules take effect to see just what this means. Will the cap in overtime really result in less money after all?
One thing is sure. Whilst working conditions need to be improved in China, it might be nice to ask the actual people affected by change for their opinion. Deciding what is best for people in a country with a completely different culture smacks more than a little of paternalism, or even imperialism — something which the U.S exports plenty of.