Despite Apple’s earlier statements that it was “all over” the issue of a recent spate of suicides at a Chinese plant manufacturing iPhones, that interest apparently has limits. The Cupertino, Calif. company is “reluctant” to go along with a plan to pay some Foxconn workers $300 per month to build the iPods and iPhones, according to a Monday report.
Apple was hesitant about the plan, which included building a plant for up to 300,000 new workers outside the main Foxconn site in Shenzen, because it might affect production, the Financial Times reports. However, Apple now seems to be onboard. Although Foxconn makes devices for other electronics companies, Apple is the plant’s largest customer, giving it a large say in decisions.
Those working at the new factory will begin at $176 a month, then move to $300 a month after a probationary period. Earlier this month, Apple CEO Steve Jobs seemed to refute a report his company would support a 20 percent wage hike for Foxconn employees. In an email, Jobs wrote: “Although every suicide is tragic, Foxconn’s suicide rate is well below the China average.” Low wages and long hours are often cited as probably reasons for the rash of factory worker deaths.
News of a new manufacturing plant isn’t surprising. Last week, China Daily quoted a Foxconn worker that employees not working on Apple products will be relocated. That report followed a number of rumors about how Foxconn would respond to the negative publicity surrounding its workers’ deaths. Speculation included the manufacturer would fire all 800,000 Chinese employees and replace them with automated factories in Vietnam or Taiwan.