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


Tim Cook visits Foxconn, where Apple's iMacs are traditionally assembled.
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.

Source: Reuters