Foxconn Technology, one of the largest electronics manufacturers in the world and the center of the recent Apple labor scandal, has announced on Saturday that it will reduce overtime and increase wages in their factories.
Foxconn’s announcement that they will increase wages up to 25% (which is about USD 400 a month) came after they have been put in the spotlight for the bad working conditions on its factories. Factories depend on the workers being present for 6-7 days per week, sometimes for as long as fourteen hours each day. Their workers welcomed the announcement on overtime limits and raises but some are understandably skeptical if it would be realized.
In order to satisfy their critics, Apple hired a labor group to inspect the factories they work with.
Fair Labor Association, a watchdog for working conditions has reportedly found ‘tons of issues’ in the Foxconn plan in Shenzhen, China. The FLA monitoring team composed of 30 members is set to interview 35,000 randomly picked employees of Foxconn.
A premature pronouncement from a member of the monitoring team sparked outrage — that he issued assessments already even before workers have been interviewed should have no room in the official conclusion.
It is amazing how someone in the inspection group could conclude positively with only a hosted tour of the plant as his basis. He even said that the Foxconn plant is one of the best ones in the country. In reality, alleged violations could be very difficult to detect during an inspection because the owner will be forwarned and can promptly arrange a cover-up.
Foxconn is one of China’s biggest employers, with 1.2 million workers housed in room with boiler near their factories. They assemble around 40% of the total amount of electronic devices sold worldwide. Apart from Apple, their clients include Toshiba, IBM, HP, Sony, Dell and others.
According to a recent government report, this year’s shortage in labor is worse than those in the past years. Anxious that their old business model, Foxconn is planning to invest millions to explore the possibility of using robots in automating their production process.
However, for a lasting change, end-users must also bear the consequences (i.e. higher prices). Usually people get all worked up when they hear something nasty about a factory producing devices but when it comes to buying the devices themselves, they want to haggle for the lowest price possible. That’s why production factories and their respective clients should persuade the buying public that improving conditions in the production lines is worth the expensive prices of their products.