Foxconn could assemble even more iPhones if China eased restrictions curbing factories from abusing overtime, the company’s CEO says.
Billionaire Terry Gou says China’s rules on overtime keep workers from earning more and puts limits on Foxconn’s competitive edge.
Since much of the fruits of his company’s labor go to the American consumer, he wishes Foxconn could follow U.S. regulations.
Gou’s remarks, made at a recent shareholder meeting, appeared today in a story published by Bloomberg.
“China has tougher overtime regulations than the U.S. and the European Union, and they understand those are unreasonable regulations, unreasonable laws,” Bloomberg quotes Gou. “Right now during the low season, we are following China’s regulations, and in the peak season we are following U.S. regulations.”
Foxconn working conditions
Foxconn is the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer and is China’s biggest employer with a million workers. It is, however, a harsh place to work, according to labor and human rights groups.
Its factories have been cited for numerous health and safety risks, including long hours. In 2010 and 2011, 14 Foxconn workers committed suicide over a 16-month period.
Foxconn installed nets outside its factories to catch workers and employers were ordered to sign an “anti-suicide pledge,” according to reports. Workers had to promise not to kill themselves and if they do, families could only seek the minimum in damages.
Accusations that Foxconn factories are sweatshops surfaced again when a worker in January jumped to his death from a factory. One factory late last year was cited for illegal overtime with high school students building iPhone X handsets.
Apple has worked to improve conditions in the factories of its suppliers and has received improved compliance marks for enforcing a maximum 60-hour work week. Foxconn workers assemble 10s of thousands of iPhones each day.
Foxconn is building a factory in Wisconsin, which gave the company several tax breaks with the promise of providing thousands of jobs.
Gou, according to the Bloomberg report, said the company would employ robots to replace 80 percent of its workers as a possible answer to work-hour restrictions.