• Foxconn to Workers: Sign Here To Verify You Love Life

    The Center for Research on Multinational Corporations and Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) published a report to "ascertain the workplace improvement in place, if any" at Foxconn production facilities today.

    Hint. Not much.

    When news of an inordinate amount of suicides occuring amongst Foxconn employees broke last year, Foxconn, after much pressure and scrutiny, made a number of promises to improve working conditions and employee treatment. In fact employees were asked to sign a statement promising not to kill themselves and pledging to "treasure their lives."

    I wish my job required me to make that pledge. God knows I have the urge to kill myself everyday.

    Below is a list of the promises versus what SACOM found.


    Promise: Across-the-board increase

    Reality: Miscalculation of wages; unpaid overtime work

    Work Hours

    Promise: Decrease from 80 hours over time a month to 36 hours of overtime work a month.

    Reality: Routinely 80-100 hours of overtime work a month including continuous shifts which deny a meal break

    Health & Safety

    Promise: Adequate personal protective equipment and health examination.

    Reality: Lack of protection and workers are not well informed about the chemicals they are using.

    Student Workers

    Promise: Length of internship regulated; skills training provided; underage workers protected (ages 16-18)

    Reality: Interns are de facto workers and on mandatory night shift.

    Grievance mechanism

    Promise: Better worker-management communication by launching hotline for workers

    Reality: Workers cannot find effective ways to handle the grievances at workplace.
    SACOM visited three Foxconn production facilities. Two of the facilities were new and located in the Chengdu and Chongqing municipality in Western China. The Chengdu facility produces iPads and employs an estimated 100,000 workers. The Chonnqing facility produces HP laptops and employs an estimated 10,000 workers. The third facility visited in the study was actually a revisiting of Foxcon's flagship plants in Longhua and Guanlan in the Shenzhen, which employ an estimated 500,000 workers.

    SACOM's findings aren't encouraging. The new facilities, particularly in Chengdu, aren't finished, resulting in production and construction going hand-in-hand. Workers, both construction and production, must deal with trucks passing by at high-speeds, exposure to aluminum dust and chemicals without adequate protective equipment, and must undergo "military training" to impose the ideal of obedience on the workers.

    Human management at Foxconn is "merely a slogan." In Shenzen employees continue to be housed in dormitories surrounded by anti-suicide nets. In the year since Foxconn's horrific treatment of its workforce was plastered all over headlines little has changed. Except the number of iDevices, tablets and portable electronics produced has sky rocketed with demand.

    Unfortunately, the cheap, cost effective, and fast labor tech companies utilize to meet their ever increasing demand will continue to present a moral quandary.

    We can't condone what they do, but we can't operate "affordably" without their services.

    Source: SACOM
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