Apple Gives Foxconn Workers A Pay Raise, But Will It Help?




What do you do when you’re sitting on a mountain of cash and have a labor condition crisis that has resulted in terrible PR? Give your employees a couple more dollars and hope that satisfies everyone, duh! Apple’s manufacturing partner, Foxconn Technology Group released a statement today that they have raised the wages of their Chinese workers by 16-25% this month. This is the second time wages have risen for Foxconn employees, but the first pay raise still didn’t resolve criticisms over Apple’s labor conditions.

The new increase in pay amounts to about 1800 yuan per month for the average junior level worker at Foxconn’s manufacturing plant (the place where baby iPads and iPhones are born). Considering that the average monthly salary hovered around 900 yuan three years ago, it’s fair to say Foxconn and Apple have been making some effort to improve conditions. Instead of being grossly underpaid slave laborers, Foxconn employees are now almost decently paid indentured servants.

Foxconn released a statement this morning stating:

“As a top manufacturing company in China, the basic salary of junior workers in all of Foxconn’s China factories is already far higher than the minimum wage set by all local governments. We will provide more training opportunities and learning time, and will continuously enhance technology, efficiency and salary, so as to set a good example for the Chinese manufacturing industry.”

Yes, a pay raise is a very helpful bonus for Foxconn workers – most of whom are young people looking to save up as much money as possible to start a better life outside of the factory. But the reason why Foxconn and other Chinese factory conditions are so deplorable has more to do with the work environment and how hard employees are pushed. Twelve hour shifts, cramped living conditions, strict performance metrics, lack of opportunity for advancement, and many other things factor into the unhappiness of workers, not just how little they make.

No sum of money can compensate for physical and emotional mistreatment. Giving employees more money is a step in the right direction, but more will need to be done to increase the quality of life of these human beings. Hopefully Apple and other electronic companies like HP, Google, Dell, and Microsoft will keep making larger efforts to improve labor conditions.

[via Reutgers]

  • FriarNurgle

    Another step towards a true Middle Class in China. 

  • ddevito

    If Apple (and lots of other companies, not picking on Apple here) has to create a fair and honest labor agreement with its manufacturing, then why don’t they just set up shop in the US? This is where it seems to be heading anyway.

    I mean, not to sound naive and ignorant here but, didn’t US companies outsource this kind of work so they didn’t need to worry about this? 

  • Christer Rosewell

    Amazing read – so now it is Apple that is running Foxconn in China..

    Jeez – another crappy dishonest idiot story in order to get hits.

    Cult of Mac is becoming more Cult of Android and Google every week.

    Time to stop reading this site.

  • ddevito

    buh bye. 

  • ddevito

    LOL – what did this article have to do with Google and COA??

  • TheMacAdvocate

    1. I hope that’s a pen name.

    2. “Twelve hour shifts, cramped living conditions, strict performance metrics, lack of opportunity for advancement, and many other things factor into the unhappiness of workers, not just how little they make.”
    -See also me, 90% of my college graduating class circa 1996.

    If you’re going to hump the face of this issue, on behalf of your readers, I have to insist you put a little more effort into slighting Apple’s efforts in China. Try harder. 

  • David A Stephens

    It is I think a mistake to judge foreign salaries by US standards. Without question we’re paid better. But I believe that even before the raise, the companies in China that Apple hired ran rather better shops than the others. The Chinese government itself runs the world’s biggest sweat shop, and the conditions in the mines, for example, are execrable. 

    People sneer at the low wages paid to workers in poor countries but the fact that the people there fight to get the jobs gives the lie to the idea that they are undesirable jobs.

    And I read that only a buck and change of value is added by Chinese labor to any iOS device. The high-value stuff, the design, the engineering, &c., is done in America.

  • joewaylo

    Not by much though. $263.48 per month doesn’t match the US Department of Labor standards. The hourly rate at $267 per month is $1.64 for 80 hours.

  • LTMP

    Over the last six years, I’ve averaged between 60 and 70 hours of work per week.
    I’m a VP at a medium sized company in North America.

    Most of my peers are in the same boat.

    We don’t complain about it, it is what it is.  It’s what we need to do to get the job done.

  • Alex

    And how much do you get paid  ? 

  • Alex

    I continue to be amazed by how many supposedly enlighten and  forward thinking Mac users sound like their die-hard Republicans running for office, when they discus the rights of the people that make their beloved Apple products….

  • Barton Lynch

    Apple does not run Foxconn. Why do they get credit for this and blame for everything else? Foxconn runs the place and like everyone is partnered with them. Stop calling it an Apple factory, you should know better and not be publishing ignorance. Don’t even say that Apple is the biggest or anything, don’t call it an Apple factory when it’s not an Apple factory.

  • CharliK

    No Apple did nothing. Foxconn gave their own employees a raise. 

  • Len Williams

    I am very surprised to see a story like this in Cult of Mac. Apple does not run or own Foxconn and therefore can never raise Foxconn’s employees’ salaries. Apple may have given some money to Foxconn to improve the salaries of their workers, but if this is so, then report it like that and not like Apple has been stingy on paying Foxconn’s employees. 

    This and so many articles I’ve read about Foxconn’s “deplorable” conditions are written from the viewpoint that Apple somehow owns Foxconn and has the power to change the long-established labor problems and conditions in China. I’m very tired of Apple being the popular whipping boy and singled out for criticism in what is a China-wide labor situation with hundreds of thousands of Chinese companies who manufacture products for western companies.

    What about the departments of Foxconn that assemble products for Dell, HP and other companies? Did those workers also get a raise in pay, and if so, who’s paying for it? Why is Apple the official bad guy when Dell, HP, etc. aren’t even mentioned?

    The problem here is not and never has been something Apple has anything but marginal control over. Chinese labor laws are horrible, and where they exist, they are not being enforced. Despite the long hours and poor conditions, these jobs are coveted in China. I’ve read interviews with actual Foxconn workers who say this is one of the better places to work in China.

  • LTMP

    About 40% less than I did before the financial meltdown, but still more than most.

    My point wasn’t about compensation, I’m sure that by any scale North Americans make more than Chinese labourers.  My point was that 60 hour work weeks aren’t the problem.

    We also shouldn’t forget that these employees don’t have to pay for room and board.

    I wouldn’t trade places with them, but I think the media has not portrayed things at all rationally.  Foxconn workers (from what I can tell) have a much higher standard of living than the average person in China, as well as a better work environment.

    Should it be better?  Yes, almost certainly, but they would be worse off if it weren’t for the efforts of Apple.  I believe that HP has made efforts to improve things for them as well.

    I’ve never read anything saying that any other company tries to help them at all.

  • Buster

    I actually mentioned Dell and HP in the article. I don’t think Apple should take all the blame. For decades America has tried to take a blind eye to labor conditions in China. Consumers like you and I fed the beast that led Apple, HP, Dell, Google, Microsoft and many others to use companies like Foxconn to have our electronics manufactured cheaply. But now that the internet has been able to bring us real insight into the conditions of those factories, we’re finally saying ,”dang I’d hate to be treated that way, someone needs to do something about this so that I don’t feel guilty for buying an iPhone or new TV.” All tech companies need to make a better effort to improve living conditions, and as consumers we should be holding them responsible for that.
    I don’t buy HP or Dell products, I buy Apple products. Apple does a GREAT job at trying to make conditions better, but I’m saying I think they can do more, and I think they will. I have complete faith in Apple that they will do whatever it takes to make sure that the people making their devices will be treated fairly. As someone who has a small voice on the internet about Apple, I think it’s my job to say Apple could be doing more. I also say other companies could be doing more, but I care about Apple more than those other companies, so if I’m going to harp on one company it’s going to be Apple because I personally hold them in such high esteem. Being the best company in the world isn’t all rainbows and cotton candy.As far as Apple being innocent of the way Foxconn manages their workers: When a company like Apple is doing business so intimately with a company like Foxconn they are accountable to some degree for the conditions of the workers IF they know about them. Apple probably pushed Foxconn to raise employee wages. They probably told them that if they raised their employee wages they’d pay more per iPhone. The two companies have a very intimate relationship, and Apple has a HUGE say regarding the operations at Foxconn. It’s great to see them stepping up and doing something. I’m just saying they should keep trying to do even more to help the people that have made their multi-billion dollar business a possibility and we as consumers should be doing our best to hold our tech companies accountable for where they source their labor.

  • baby_Twitty

    Well said