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Some good news and some bad news

Apple this week published a formal report on manufacturing conditions at one of Foxconn's facilities in China where some of Apple's iPods are produced. The report is in response to a flurry of media coverage about poor working conditions at Foxconn's facilities. The online press had suggested that Foxconn's facilities forced employees to work excessive hours and receive salaries that were below the local region's minimum wage. In some news reports, Foxconn was reported to have been mistreating employees such as providing poor working or living conditions.

The nature of the reports immediately provoked a response from Apple, indicating that it would investigate the situation and take action if Foxconn was found to be in violation of Apple's own Supplier Code of Conduct. Apple maintains that all of its suppliers must meet certain criteria and standards.

Apple's formal investigation of Foxconn reveals that while most employees were generally satisfied of their working conditions, Foxconn did violate several areas of Apple's Supplier Code of Conduct including:

  • Working and living conditions
  • Excessive working hours
  • Proper employee treatment

In terms of working conditions, Apple found that Foxconn actually provides a very good environment for its employees. The facility in question has several in-house restaurants, recreational facilities such as tennis courts and pools, lounging rooms and other amenities. Working areas were also found to be generally clean, safe and well lit. Apple's interviews with a large number of employees found that most were pleased with Foxconn's facilities.

Foxconn also provides employees with on-campus housing, supplied by Foxconn itself or through third party leasing. Apple found that while Foxconn's own living facilities were satisfactory, the leased complexes were not. In the leased housing areas, employees appeared to be crammed together. Large rooms holding a bulk number of beds were common and in some areas, beds were stacked. Apple says that it finds these conditions to be too "impersonal" and that Foxconn is already in the process of building new housing facilities.

A large number of employees also appeared to be working an excessive number of hours, working a total of 35% over Apple's recommended hours per week maximum which is 60 hours. Some employees were also found to have been treated poorly, with some being "punished" by being forced to "stand at attention." From Apple's report:

During our interviews with employees, we explicitly asked every line worker whether they had ever been subjected to or witnessed objectionable disciplinary punishment. Two employees reported that they had been disciplined by being made to stand at attention. While we did not find this practice to be widespread, Apple has a zero tolerance policy for any instance, isolated or not, of any treatment of workers that could be interpreted as harsh.

Apple says that it will continue to work with Foxconn to rectify several areas of its facilities and improve employee working conditions. The company has also joined the Electronic Industry Code of Conduct (EICC) Implementation Group, which is an industry-wide group that maintains working standards. Apple says that so far it is pleased with the results of its investigation and will continue to monitor the situation at Foxconn heavily.

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Their last complaint!
By michael2k on 8/18/2006 1:28:36 PM , Rating: 2
How will Apple address their last complaint... The lack of available overtime in non peak seasons?

RE: Their last complaint!
By feelingshorter on 8/18/2006 3:14:38 PM , Rating: 2
I dont see how over time is even that bad. I used to go to school from 8 (so woke up at 7:30) and got home at 4:10. Thats 40 hours a week. Then i also had a night job, working from 9pm until whenever we got done. Basicaly i was working around 27-35 hours along side of school. Yet working 60 hours a week is hard work? I know people here that works much more than that. As long as they get paid overtime, then it should be ok.

RE: Their last complaint!
By rushfan2006 on 8/18/2006 4:12:06 PM , Rating: 1
First point...they aren't saying just 60 per week they are saying that some worked 35% *over* the reccommended max of 60 hours per week...that would be about 80 hours per week, and all machoism aside that is a lot of hours to work every week (especially if there is no OT).

Second point...Its all relative to what you just said. How hard is school? How tough/draining are your classes? Then consider the work you have to do -- I laugh in any kids face that calls working at a fastfood place, or stocking shelves at WalMart counting that as stressful or tiring work on top of school.

Third point...Many many people do the school and work thing -- I've done it myself for years....50 hours working...about 20 hours at school...its tiring, but its life...its what you need to do to get somewhere in life today. Its not like anyone doing both is uncommon today, but again I refer back to point 1 -- what does work involve?

I can easily hack just working some chump job at a retail store more than a job that has serious responsibly, deadlines to me and requires some actual skill set that only schooling and experience can provide.

RE: Their last complaint!
By NerV04 on 8/18/2006 7:36:56 PM , Rating: 2
i have to agree its not that hard to go to school...but on the other hand it can get pretty damn stressful for those who try to achieve the highest mit kids commiting suicide and such...and have you worked at a fast food restuarant? its damn tiring and stressful...since youre bitched at if its not done in like 30 seconds or so..and youre on your feet the whole time running around...

RE: Their last complaint!
By rushfan2006 on 8/21/2006 2:24:11 PM , Rating: 2
Well first don't take me wrong, I'm not - or at least my intent was not to make light of folks doing the school thing and a job after school. My point was to consider the work being done before any blanket statements are made that 60 hours isn't that hard to do, which is what I think the original person I replied too was exactly implying.

Just for the record, nope -- I never worked in the food industry at all -- never fast food, never any restaurant. However I did do lot clearing work. And trust me, I don't feel out of line saying that is more tiring than working at a fast food place is.

You know the plots of land that you see that is mostly forest/woods....the job I did was responsible for clearing that was the first step for any housing development to start. On your feet all day, outside hacking with an axe the little stuff the dozers left behind and they picking up the trees and brush it crushed up...not fun work -- especialy in the summer.

I just wanted you to know that, because of what I posted. I'd never post about something like that if I didn't know what "work" was or if I never experienced how tiring school and work can be in the first place.

RE: Their last complaint!
By oneils on 8/21/2006 3:59:55 PM , Rating: 3
So you've never worked a thousand dollar hour in a Macdonald's? That's $1000 per cashier per hour - thats a lot of bigmac meals.

Yes, its not very physical, but its emotionally draining and really stressfull. You are ready to kill the idiots in line after about the 200 hundredth cutomer.

RE: Their last complaint!
By TheLiberalTruth on 8/22/2006 4:16:39 AM , Rating: 4
Just think of that profit margin. The workers' wages constitute only a few percent, and, having worked in a fast food restaurant, I know that the cost of the food is, at most, 1/3 (for meat products), less than 10% for fries, and even less for drinks. All while paying each worker around 2%. I'm fine with capitalism, but food service is simple, sickening greed, unbridled by care for other human beings.
The poor saps in China make even less, and they're making products that sell for far higher prices. And even though I bring up a valid point, I'm sure some jerkoff (see: tomz) will still call me a commie or spew some other diparraging remarks.
Back on topic, I've worked 72 hours in a week at an amusement park before. This was when I lived a 1/2 hour away from my work, too. With no day off, that means I spent another 7 hours driving. A 16 hour shift, a 13 hour shift, and a 12 hour shift. To top it off, it was all in the hot, July sun. No one should be forced to work 80 hours in a week, ever. An 80 hour work week is one situation where what doesn't kill you doesn't make you stronger.

RE: Their last complaint!
By plinden on 8/19/06, Rating: 0
RE: Their last complaint!
By smitty3268 on 8/18/2006 4:13:48 PM , Rating: 2
Apple says 60 is fine, you just can't go over that. Also, I'm assuming they did get paid overtime, but did it actually say that anywhere? Maybe they weren't.

RE: Their last complaint!
By michael2k on 8/18/2006 6:02:47 PM , Rating: 1
Even so, the workers complained about not getting enough overtime during the off peak season, even though they were already 35% over the 60 hour limit during the peak season.

These people were asking for more overtime.

RE: Their last complaint!
By slashbinslashbash on 8/19/2006 1:32:22 AM , Rating: 2
The general manner of the text about overtime suggests to me that they do indeed get paid overtime.

An employee’s wage was comprised of several elements (base pay, skill bonus, attendance bonus, housing allowance, meal allowance, overtime)

We also discovered that the process for reporting overtime was manual and monthly, and while not a violation of the Code of Conduct, it was subject to human error and relied too much on memory for dispute resolution. To address this issue, the supplier will link the payroll system and electronic badge system, which will automate the recording of hours worked and pay calculations.

RE: Their last complaint!
By Captmorgan09 on 8/21/2006 10:13:58 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, operators who work at Foxconn do get overtime. They still do not make much money even with overtime. A operator working on the manufacturing line will make about 100 USD a month including their overtime.

I've worked at a few different Chinese manucturing sites including Foxconn in Shenzen. Out of the three different sites I've worked at, the employees at Foxconn seemed the least happy. You never see the operators smile, they hardly talk to each other. I saw a whole line of test operators fired one day. It was crazy, the day before they were all gone, I saw an email asking which test line was having problems, someone responded and when I came in the next day the test line had all new employees.

Foxconn does great work, but I don't think it's a very fun place to work.

RE: Their last complaint!
By chasch on 8/21/2006 11:33:04 AM , Rating: 2
I bet its a hella lot more fun than working 12 hour days outside in the rice paddies. Why do you think demand for these jobs is so high?

RE: Their last complaint!
By George Powell on 8/18/2006 6:56:34 PM , Rating: 2
To solve the lack of overtime Apple could move to a six month product cycle like ATI and nVidia. That way we will all have to upgrade out iPods on a regular basis!

I'd rather not...
By Josh7289 on 8/18/2006 1:33:40 PM , Rating: 2
Support a company (Foxconn) with such standards.

RE: I'd rather not...
By michael2k on 8/18/2006 2:03:15 PM , Rating: 5
That is a relatively meritless position.

1) What standards are acceptable?
2) Which companies adhere to such standards?
3) Do you, therefore, not shop at Walmart, purchase only US made goods, or make everything yourself?

From my perspective Foxconn has GOOD standards that everyone else has not yet matched...

RE: I'd rather not...
By The Cheeba on 8/19/2006 10:53:33 AM , Rating: 2
Although I realize we can't police the world's politics from our armchairs, I've heard some pretty nasty things about Foxconn in relation to other electronics companies. A friend of mine used to work for ASUS in Taiwan and the stories about the work there were a bit unnerving -- yet those tales paled in comparison how Foxconn runs.

RE: I'd rather not...
By goatfajitas on 8/19/2006 5:06:38 PM , Rating: 3
Of course it is meritless. In the end it comes out against Apple, and that cannot be right. Apple is the end all be all of the electronics industry. (rolls eyes as hard as possible).

Is there any possible position one could take with you that shows Apple, or any one of its products, designs, or even contract manufacturers in a bad light?

RE: I'd rather not...
By michael2k on 8/19/2006 8:27:11 PM , Rating: 2
Why is it so important to you that Apple, it's products, designs, or contract manufacturers be shown in a bad light?

Foxconn makes HP and Dell computers, Motorola phones, the XBox 360, PS2, and the PS3 besides the Apple iPod nano. Where is the hate for those companies?

Again, will you refute my logic or just attack me?

RE: I'd rather not...
By goatfajitas on 8/20/2006 12:25:46 AM , Rating: 2
Its not... And I am not trying to attack you. Sorry if I left that impression. I dont care one lick about Dell, Moto, MS or any other company for that matter. I just noticed that I see you, and a few others on all the Apple based posts for weeks, and all you seem to do is defend Apple, no matter what the situation. Are you really that big of a fanboy, to defend anything and everything Apple does, or do you actually benefit from thier success?

RE: I'd rather not...
By michael2k on 8/20/2006 11:24:57 AM , Rating: 2
I own Apple stock.

RE: I'd rather not...
By Sharky974 on 8/21/2006 3:26:24 AM , Rating: 1
I am. Apple sucks.

RE: I'd rather not...
By retrospooty on 8/21/2006 3:16:48 PM , Rating: 2
aha !

"I am not just a client, I am a member" ;)

I do hope it does well for you. It will probably a good year ahead for Apple.

By gramboh on 8/18/2006 4:24:09 PM , Rating: 1
The disturbing one to me is the discipline action of making employees stand at attention.

Of course those who aren't naive know this type of thing happens where labour is cheap. The problem is typical high-and-mighty Apple touts the ethics of their supply chain management, then gets busted with suppliers blatantly violating it.

Oops, should've either changed the policy or done audits of supplier standards before disclosing it.

RE: Apple
By The Cheeba on 8/19/2006 10:58:29 AM , Rating: 2
The disturbing one to me is the discipline action of making employees stand at attention.

Read my post above. Foxconn is basically run like the military from everything I've heard from people in the industry.

RE: Apple
By Sharky974 on 8/21/2006 3:25:18 AM , Rating: 2
Well they're Apple so they can get away with. They're politically correct.

RE: Apple
By Dfere on 8/21/2006 7:30:25 AM , Rating: 2
Foxconn is owned by (primarily) the chinese communist government.

Really people, a lot of the analogies espoused here rely on a comparison of our western culture to what Foxconn does in CHINA. How can you even compare a work week when you do not know the general conditions of workers in China? How can you compare what a 60 hour (or more work week) means to a chinese worker, compared to what is otherwise available?

How do you know what "standing at attention" means in a communist country? It could be only a slight reprimand, or a HUGE insult. If the Foxconn facility has restaraunts, pools, etc and there are NO facilities that nice in that region, it could be that workers are FLOCKING to work there, or it could mean they they are chosen or directed by lottery to work their by the government.

RE: Apple
By masher2 on 8/21/2006 2:48:44 PM , Rating: 2
> "The disturbing one to me is the discipline action of making employees stand at attention"

In the US military, you stand at attention when told, or face disciplinary action, up to and including court martial and possible jail time.

At Foxcoon, you stand at attention when told-- or you're free to quit and go look for a different job.

Which one is worse?

RE: Apple
By oneils on 8/21/2006 4:10:17 PM , Rating: 2
At Foxcoon, you stand at attention when told-- or you're free to quit and go look for a different job.

Which one is worse? .

There might be more options than just quitting. Like say, getting apple to enforce its employment standards:

While we did not find this practice to be widespread, Apple has a zero tolerance policy for any instance, isolated or not, of any treatment of workers that could be interpreted as harsh.

RE: Apple
By oneils on 8/21/2006 4:14:02 PM , Rating: 2
sorry, instead of "employment standards" I should have said "zero-tolerance policy on harsh treatment."

real people work real hard
By Samus on 8/19/2006 12:12:41 PM , Rating: 3
I typically work 60 hours a week.

Working 60 hours a week isn't for everyone, and I'm not out to dis those union workers that work 35 hour weeks and have extended holiday, but I like working, and most people don't.

Someday I might find a woman that understands (or that can deal with my workaholism) as well :)

RE: real people work real hard
By Crux on 8/19/2006 2:31:26 PM , Rating: 2
Someday I might find a woman that understands (or that can deal with my workaholism) as well :)

Find the user who will still virgin at 40 years old... or retirement...

RE: real people work real hard
By rrsurfer1 on 8/21/2006 9:14:01 AM , Rating: 2
I too work 60 hours a week. It's rough at times, but I still am able to have a life outside work. And I still have a girlfriend :)

I am not in any way claiming that I have it as hard as the employees in this article. For one, I make more money in a day than they do in a whole month. And I've never been forced to stand at attention, or lived in giant rooms filled with beds.

RE: real people work real hard
By rcc on 8/21/2006 12:13:41 PM , Rating: 2
lol, are you under the impression that Foxxcon only builds for Apple? No. It's just that it's a bigger story when it's a company with Apple's supposed reputation.

Foxxcon does work for a "whos who" of PC and electronic manufacturers.

RE: real people work real hard
By rcc on 8/21/2006 12:15:02 PM , Rating: 2
Argh, my post should have been under Sharky's comment below.


By Sharky974 on 8/21/2006 3:23:23 AM , Rating: 2
People are just defending them because theyre politically correct Apple. I cant even IMAGINE what would happen if MS had even 1/10 of these working conditions. It would be a firestorm of criticism.

RE: re
By michael2k on 8/21/2006 12:26:25 PM , Rating: 2
Funny, Foxconn makes PS2s, Dells, HPs, Motorola cell phones, a host of other things. The only reason a firestorm is being raised is because Apple is more photogenic.

If Apple is "politically correct" then they are also being held to a higher standard as there are over 100m PS2s and only 60m iPods while Dell and HP combined have shipped over 50m PCs a year since the iPod debuted.

RE: re
By IceT on 8/21/2006 10:36:13 PM , Rating: 2
Low-wage labor, poor working conditions, etc are common to factories situated in Free Work Zones in developing countries...This is one way company can maintain their earning and power status...


Come on guys, are you suprised?
By powpowtux on 8/18/2006 2:10:34 PM , Rating: 3
When everyone goes to places like Walmart or buys something made in CHINA, Tiawan, etc... because it is so cheap, you have to know the cost cutting has to take place somewhere. It is usually in worker's pay, living areas, treatment, etc.

Its cheap for a reason!

By Sharky974 on 8/21/2006 3:29:33 AM , Rating: 2
You're full of shit. It's cheap because of lower wages. That doesn't mean the employees have to be treated badly. Their wages would still be low.

Anyeway, your positive comment is probably just because it's Apple. If it was a no politically correct company (like Wal Mart) youd probably be commenting the exact reverse.

I notice most of the comments here are positive, because it's Apple of course.

sounds pretty nice
By dgingeri on 8/18/2006 1:55:39 PM , Rating: 2
I worked for IBM in a call center in Boulder, Colorado and we didn't have such nice conditions. I also felt that my job security was always in serious question. I ended up working there for 3 months before it drove me crazy enough to quit without another job to go to.

Now, I am thankful for getting out. I was unemployed for 6 months after that and lost my place to live, but I recovered and now work at a place that is 10 times better, twice the pay, and my job security is never a question. They appreciate my talents and want me to stick around.

in short, I think they should be thankful that they have it that good when there are places here in the US that aren't as nice.

RE: sounds pretty nice
By The Cheeba on 8/19/2006 10:57:41 AM , Rating: 2
While I don't doubt living and working in the US has some difficult perdicaments (especially in your case), it's very hard to even conceive what some of these workers in China go through. They live and work in the same facility for several years on end, rarely leaving. Very few of them read and every cent they make goes back to their family on a farm. These were the people that were essentially cutting rice a decade or two ago, but sadly their social and economical status remains about the same even if its a more "western" way of living.

Nice work Applie Laywers
By thebeastie on 8/19/2006 10:58:46 AM , Rating: 2
I must say this is very professional wording by Apple lawyers.
The truth is that these Chinese workers work for at least 15hours a day. And I believe they get one day off a month.
Receive 66$ a MONTH, this is a very well known fact.

And the provided sleeping quarters are 200 people per room and they are horridly cramped, I have seen them first hand.
Foxconn know its bad they have VERY tight security around the factory, guys with automatic rifles stand out all entries 24 hours a day I am not kidding!

Enjoy your Ipods during xmas.
And Apple enjoy your billion dollor profits, you earned it!

RE: Nice work Applie Laywers
By michael2k on 8/19/2006 12:05:45 PM , Rating: 2
What is the solution, then?

Don't shop at Walmart because they encourage outsourcing and cost cutting?
Don't bargain shop because looking for lower prices equates to more cost cutting?
Don't buy anything, but make it instead, therefore depriving third world countries of income?

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes
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