Print 24 comment(s) - last by jtesoro.. on Jun 22 at 11:07 PM

Workers welfare comes into question

Several weeks ago, reports were rampant about Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Company, employees being severely underpaid but having to work just as hard as workers in any other parts of the world. In fact, reports said that some of Foxconn's employees that were part of manufacturing Apple products were being paid a $50 per month.

Shortly after the reports began circulating, Foxconn said that its factory in Longhua, China, does not put its workers at harm and does not sacrifice living standards for cheap labor. The company further said that most of its employees are given housing. There was no response from Apple for a few days but the company did issue a statement that it would investigate the matter further.

According to Apple, the company is extremely strict about its manufacturing partners and its code of conduct. Apple said that it will be interviewing workers that work at Foxconn's factories and said that it will not tolerate non-compliance to industry standards. Apple's own policy indicates:

Suppliers must pay wages, benefits, and overtime to workers in accordance with applicable laws, including those related to minimum wages, overtime, hours, and legally mandated benefits. Suppliers may not discriminate based on race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, political affiliation, or marital status. The basis on which workers are being paid must be clearly conveyed to them in a timely manner.

This is not uncommon for Chinese manufacturing facilities.  At most of these factories, workers are required to live "on-campus" and share a dorm with several other employees of the same gender.  Room and board are taken out of the employee's salary and as such, the workers are typically left with $50 to $100 per month.  Whether or not this is substandard to foreign eyes, it is the standard model in China -- every facility operates this way whether the plant manufactures iPods, motherboards, cars or clothes.

Neither Apple nor Foxconn have issued any further statements. The Longhua factory produces products for many manufacturers including Apple, and makes things such as the iPod.

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You guys socialist or what?
By Dfere on 6/22/2006 3:14:28 PM , Rating: 2
There is a basic point pretty well missed here in the discussion. Either they are forced to work for these wages, or they choose to. If they are forced to work these wages (directly or indirectly by the government)then your issue should be with the chinese government, NOT FOXCONN. If they have the right to choose, then they chose to work there. If your issue is that workers in China are netting $100 disposable income per month- no one here has said what that compares to in purchasing power in the united states, every one is ASSUMING it is too low. This is a COMMUNIST country, not the US. If you can't own a home (as in a COMMUNIST state), and will always have room and board and the standard of living is decent (goods, food, shelter)- how can you fault the company? Fault the government, or even better, fault the chinese people for not reforming their government's practices. To further bash Apple, (and I own NOTHING APPLE), is absurd.

We are responsible for the society in which we live. Not someone else's society. If the argument is political, it is up to China to change its policies. If the argment is economic, lets not guess at what a fragment of information really means and compare it to terms we are familiar with in a democratic, capitalistic society.

IN the long run, the influx of capital and profits will alleviate the situation- labor in China will get relatively more expensive. It already did in Mexico and then in India. Then Africa will be exploited until the standard of earning their becomes more inline with the rest of the world while the chinese workers scream like Mexican workers recently did.

RE: You guys socialist or what?
By lemonadesoda on 6/22/2006 6:09:53 PM , Rating: 2
...unfortunately that's a rather naiive view. The next thing along that line of thought is that child labour is OK as long as the kids weren't forced to do it. And having 15 year old prostitutes is OK as long as they do it of their own choice. And that its ok to let people starve... its their own fault for not working hard enough... since the influx of capital and profits will always alleviate any economic situation situation. And an alternative to letting your family starve is to go to another city and work and sleep in the factory 24hrs a day AND NOT GET PAID the amount you are contractually and legally obliged to receive... sand this is OK since if you don't like the conditions, you can always leave.

I suggest you switch your college major to economics or law. You could use the help.

RE: You guys socialist or what?
By jtesoro on 6/22/2006 11:07:56 PM , Rating: 2
I think its a matter of where we draw the line, and it will be different for each individual (or corporation). I think the child prostitutes thing is easy.

Child labor I actually thought was easy until I started to define in my mind what it was. Having a kid mow the neighbor's lawn for a few bucks is OK. How about helping to gather crops for the neighboring farm for a week? What if a group of kids decide "hey, why don't we go over to Mr. Smith's farm down the road and earn a few bucks"? What if they ask one of their Dads to front for them because he can better convice Mr. Smith? Maybe Dad starts becoming systematic and starts planning the summer schedule for this "group of kids" so they can "earn a few bucks". For kicks, they later call themselves FarmHelp Company, and Dad gets a portion of the earnings so he can "buy himself some coffee"...

At what point does it become child labor? Each of us may define it differently. The law may have its own definition. But Chinese law is different from US law, and so on.

I don't want to say Apple is right or wrong because I think there's too little information. On one hand maybe it's OK because they might be doing regular (or even random) audits and its just that the Chinese company is able to hide things somehow. On the other hand, Apple may have known but chose to do nothing until things leaked out. Its not even clear what the violation is. The article uses the word "mistreatment", but it doesn't say anything else other than lower wages compared to another factory. I don't think that's mistreatment. I don't think that's against the law either.

RE: You guys socialist or what?
By Bonrock on 6/22/2006 6:45:51 PM , Rating: 3
Lots of companies follow these same practices in China; that's not the real issue here. The real issue is that Apple, a company which claims to be very progressive, is doing it--in violation of their own code of conduct, I might add.

People love to think of Microsoft as evil and Apple as angelic, but the fact is, they're both big corporations--and like all big corporations, they both do a lot of crappy things. I really wish people would stop deluding themselves into thinking that Apple and Google are altruistic companies that care more about doing what's right than about making money.

"Vista runs on Atom ... It's just no one uses it". -- Intel CEO Paul Otellini
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