Apple & Foxconn Worker Abuse: “Nothing’s Changed”

Apple & Foxconn Worker Abuse: “Nothing’s Changed”

Despite a visit from Apple CEO Tim Cook, Foxconn shows little signs of improvement.

Following the Fair Labor Association’s audit into Foxconn working conditions earlier this year, which unearthed several labor violations, including unlawful working hours, poor pay, and a total disregard for health and safety, Apple and Foxconn promised to make some major improvements.

However, two months on, activists say violations “remain the norm,” and that there is no evidence of any significant changes in Foxconn’s Chinese factories.

After paying several visits to Foxconn’s factories and holding over 170 worker interviews, labor watchdog Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) has said that high production targets, inhumane treatment, and salary cuts are all still an issue despite promises that they would be improved upon.

SACOM, which has published several prominent reports on Foxconn’s labor conditions in recent years, told Reuters:

The frontline management continue to impose humiliating disciplinary measures on workers. The above findings demonstrate that Apple and Foxconn have not turned over a new leaf.

Geoffrey Crothall of the China Labour Bulletin agrees. He says there is no quick fix, and that the only things Apple and Foxconn have done to improve the situation so far is organize PR stunts:

I haven’t seen any real evidence of any significant changes. 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.

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.

And of course, Foxconn’s workers know all too well that the situation shows no signs of improving. One, who has worked at Foxconn’s Guanlan plant building iPhones for the last two years, said:

The work pressure is still great. There hasn’t been much change. We are still being pushed very hard.

While Foxconn has made improvements to the workers’ basic salaries, overtime cuts have meant that their overall pay has actually decreased.

However, Foxconn maintains that it is dedicated to employee welfare and making improvements to labor conditions. The company told Reuters:

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.

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  • technochick

    It’s been what 2-3 months. These types of changes take time. They cut the OT because legally they had to. So that is a start. They need to hire and train more people which might mean building more dorms and even production buildings which there are rumors they are working on. 

    If this was a year later then I’d be booing and hissing and calling Foxconn etc all lying douchebags. But after barely a quarter it’s really not early enough to judge them. 
  • gnomehole

    Because we all know these types of changes happen overnight… in China…  

    Seriously people, when does reality set in?
    This is just more trolling by bloggers.
  • Shane Bryson

    I would love for the media to get a story right just one time. Maybe they would like to let the world know that the same foxconn plant which houses the assembly for Apple also houses Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, and a number of other companies that sell HUGE name products in the US. Everyone wants to blast Apple and boycott buying an iPhone while playing an Xbox made in the same plant. Fail.

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  • Eric

    I don’t get why Apple is still being pegged as an “accomplice” to Foxconn’s business practices.  Apple isn’t whipping Foxconn employees to work, and they aren’t whipping Foxconn to whip their employees to work either.  Foxconn is doing what they do, all on their own.  Short of stopping their business ties, Apple can’t do anymore than they have already done.  All the pressure should be put on Foxconn, not Apple.

  • Charles Wallace

    I made this comment on the article here:

    I will post again and I’m eager for any opinion at all. I want to know if I am the only one thinking this way. 
    Thanks in advance,
    “…First off I want to say that I love Apple products, call me a fanboy but I really don’t care. All I hope is that you can see the logic in my argument.
    To keep it short, Nike was the first to use outsourced labour to create North American products(sweat shops) and was given lots of infamous publicity about it. But still to this day keeps out churning Jordan’s to feed our commercialism. Why is this?
    Apple is in the crosshairs of this same issue, while other companies are using the same manufacturer to produce its goods in the same work conditions as Apples, they don’t seem to have as much press attention[...], Why is this?
    Responsibility does not come from Apple, NIke, or any other company to dictate working condition in another countries. Responsibility comes from government. Labour laws and standards are practiced here in both North American countries; but after worker suicide, press, and mass audits the onus still appears to be with Apple. 
    The way I see it, government doesn’t care and neither do companies care well enough to push the government for reformation. 

  • Charles Wallace

    I made this comment on the article here:

    I will post again and I’m eager for any opinion at all. I want to know if I am the only one thinking this way. 
    Thanks in advance,
    “…First off I want to say that I love Apple products, call me a fanboy but I really don’t care. All I hope is that you can see the logic in my argument.
    To keep it short, Nike was the first to use outsourced labour to create North American products(sweat shops) and was given lots of infamous publicity about it. But still to this day keeps out churning Jordan’s to feed our commercialism. Why is this?
    Apple is in the crosshairs of this same issue, while other companies are using the same manufacturer to produce its goods in the same work conditions as Apples, they don’t seem to have as much press attention[...], Why is this?
    Responsibility does not come from Apple, NIke, or any other company to dictate working condition in another countries. Responsibility comes from government. Labour laws and standards are practiced here in both North American countries; but after worker suicide, press, and mass audits the onus still appears to be with Apple. 
    The way I see it, government doesn’t care and neither do companies care well enough to push the government for reformation. 

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a freelance writer based in the UK. He has an interest in all things tech, but most enjoys covering Apple, anything mobile, and gaming. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell, or through his website.

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