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  (Source: static.guim.co.uk)
Foxconn plants have cut overtime, but dorms could use some attention now

Apple has had a bit of trouble with its suppliers in China as far as working conditions go, but the Fair Labor Association (FLA) recently reported that Foxconn factories are improving.
 
Foxconn, which is the trading name for Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., is an electronics maker in China that builds Apple's iPhones and iPads. It has been placed under the microscope for years regarding issues like worker suicides and poor working conditions.
 
But the FLA recently audited Foxconn factories once again, and found that conditions are indeed improving in the way of cutting overtime and improving safety. For the Shenzhen Foxconn factory in particular, overtime hours had been cut from 80 per month to between 48 and 60. 
 
Factory higher-ups have also stressed their effort toward creating better living situations in dorms. However, this won't be so easy. According to Louis Woo, assistant to the CEO of Foxconn, cutting overtime means having to hire more employees to fill in extra shifts.
 
While cutting overtime is important so that employees are not pushed to the point of exhaustion -- which then leads to accidents on the job and sometimes emotional problems -- some employees have complained that they need the overtime in order to live semi-comfortably financially.
 
"A lot of workers have clearly come to Shenzhen to make as much money as they can in as short a period as they can, and overtime hours are very important in that calculation," said Woo. "We are picking up concerns now on the microblogs about what's likely to happen as hours get changed, and whether their incomes will be shaved as well." 
 
In 2010, Foxconn factories in China received a lot of media attention after a string of worker suicides occurred. It was revealed that these employees were overworked and suffered poor working and living conditions. In fact, explosions resulted from the build-up of aluminum dust used to polish iPad cases in Foxconn plants. 
 
In January 2012, The New York Times took Apple's supplier problems to another level by publishing a lengthy article on all the issues occurring in the Chinese factories. It pointed out issues like too much overtime, little pay and crowded dorms. Apple was accused of standing by idly despite receiving several violations of the company code of conduct from these factories. 
 
Shortly after the Times article, Apple volunteered to join the FLA for rigorous and random inspections of the Foxconn factories. Since, the FLA has performed the inspections and found that overtime hours, pay and safety were the top violations at Foxconn. However, it was odd that one month beforehand, FLA President Auret van Heerden reported that Foxconn plants were not so bad

Source: Reuters



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By RufusM on 8/22/2012 5:00:39 PM , Rating: 2
It would cost much more than that is production was moved to the US. It costs more to import parts into the US from China, Taiwan, Korea, etc., then there's the cost of labor, healthcare, plant and equipment, taxes, threat of unionization, etc.

I see no reason why an electronics company would want to produce in the US other than it's better for the US economy. I'm not certain it would be better for the company in the long term and it's certainly not better for the company in the short term.

I'm not trying to start a flame war, I'm just looking at the economics of it.


By tayb on 8/22/2012 5:01:23 PM , Rating: 2
That wouldn't generate as much shareholder wealth. Greed is the name of the game. Increasing overhead, and thereby reducing profit, isn't good for business unless you think the good will will result in offsetting revenue increases. Not likely.

As long as China continues to heavily devalue its currency these jobs aren't coming back. And honestly, I feel that these types of jobs are going to be taken by robots in the near term anyway. The manufacturing jobs that we've lost in the past 10-20 years just flat out are not coming back in my opinion.


By tayb on 8/22/2012 5:19:58 PM , Rating: 2
I'll also say that even if China stops devaluing its currency these jobs wouldn't come back to America. They would end up in Vietnam or India or some other country with extremely cheap labor.


By NellyFromMA on 8/23/2012 12:50:13 PM , Rating: 2
True Story. What it would allow for is essentially levlling out the playing field for international business between the US and China (and likely the EU and China) instead of the skewed story we have today.


By Ringold on 8/23/2012 1:43:26 PM , Rating: 1
No, we'll never be on a level field with emerging economies. At the end of the day, we (collectively the West) are at a point with our national incomes that we focus on cradle-to-grave welfare states, environmental issues (some times to such an extreme that large-scale projects are near impossible) and other forms of related taxes and regulation. Emerging economies, not having our level of income, are happy to deal with a little smog and work hard and save for their own individual futures, so even with currencies that appear "fair" they are simply willing to work harder.

Plus, manufacturing jobs are repetitive tasks, and the type China does is repetitive and brain-dead jobs (maybe why liberals pine for them?), only done by humans because they're cheaper then robots. These aren't the jobs we should be shooting for, we should be focusing on higher value-added jobs.


By anactoraaron on 8/22/2012 5:47:23 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
I think Tim Cook, Bill Gates and the other CEOs who use Foxconn's slave labor would be able to "survive" just fine on "only $500 Million per year in compensation",


Who died and made you the dictator of this country? Why the hell shouldn't those people be making boatloads of money for what they created? Why should they be forced make less to create jobs? If you invented Windows OS would you want someone dictating how much money you should make based on what they felt was 'enough' to them?

What would make more sense is to give these people/companies additional tax breaks for bringing these jobs back rather than giving them tax breaks for essentially doing nothing. It's why our manufacturing jobs are all gone and plants are closing up and moving across the border. These people/corporations have had their taxes cut in part to help offset the increasing costs of EVERYTHING via inflation and they still can't afford to have jobs here in the US. Remember when a gallon of milk was 1.99 everywhere and a gallon of gas was .99? Everything has gone up in price, including raw materials and components needed for manufacturing- which is why you see skeleton crew manufacturing plants in the US consisting of temp workers (to avoid unions, healthcare costs, paid holidays, etc.) who don't have a clue of what they are doing producing horse manure work of whatever it is that they are manufacturing. And this lowering standard of US manufacturing only strengthens the argument for shipping our jobs to china/mexico!

Sure there may be a few companies that are capitalizing on the tax breaks to become gazillionaires, but the majority of companies are still hurting and aren't run by multi-billion dollar CEO's and NEED more tax breaks to stay afloat. It bothers me when I hear Obama saying 'trickle down economics doesn't work'... imagine where we would be in regards to unemployment without those tax breaks! There's no reason one group of people should have to pay more than another (class warfare) when all that is really needed is for government to simply STOP SPENDING so much.

A reasonable solution to bring these types of jobs here is some major reforms such as:
Repealing obamacare so companies aren't forced to have this expense.
New labor laws to allow 12+ hour shifts without breaks (and allow employees to eat while they work). We would also need to include other reforms to unemployment and other items would need addressed so the labor costs for workers in the US would at least come CLOSE to COMPETING (an important word) in labor costs with outsourcing to China. In the end it's about competition. It's the same thing as trying something at Best Buy and buying it on Amazon or Newegg because it was cheaper on Amazon/Newegg... see what I did there?
-OR-
Penalize companies who keep most of their manufacturing jobs oversees/across the border and at the same time give generous tax incentives for companies who have most of their manufacturing jobs here in the US. If the penalties/incentives were right this could be accomplished to successfully bring jobs back here-- but it shouldn't as government shouldn't dictate to companies what they should or should not do, or tax them if they choose not to follow the 'law' - that's an idea not too different than obamacare.


By tng on 8/23/2012 8:54:09 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Repealing obamacare so companies aren't forced to have this expense.
From what I have seen at several companies that I go to, what Obamacare has done is allow the employer to shift most of the cost to the employee. Yes the company has health care benefits, but in addition to your $50-$100 per month premium, the plan only will pick up cost after you pay almost $7K out of pocket. Again, I believe that this is the real reason that this was passed, employers pay less and pass the cost on to employees, helping the bottom line of the business at the expense of the employee.

quote:
...government shouldn't dictate to companies what they should or should not do
This is the real problem. Government should have some say in how companies operate, but in recent years that has gotten out of hand as federal, state and local regulations have grown out of control. Where I live in CA a company that uses IPA to clean parts has to account for every drop that they use and then pay a fee to the local air quality district. Ironically, I can go down to Wall Mart and buy a bottle of 99% IPA and dump it on the ground and there is no penalty for that. What it comes down to is a money and power grab by government.

quote:
Why the hell shouldn't those people be making boatloads of money for what they created?
I say that if they can get that kind of money, good for them. I don't ever want to see some kind of system imposed by government that tells me how much I can make. People who want laws like that never realize that it will come back to bite them in the butt someday, and they probably will not even realize it.


By Ringold on 8/23/2012 1:46:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Who died and made you the dictator of this country?


That's the liberal ideology these days. Multi-culturalism! Diversity! Free speech! But only as long as you agree with them and their iron rule.

Disagree, and its off to the tax gulags for you, capitalist swine!


Not Just Apple Uses Foxconn
By tng on 8/23/2012 8:34:19 AM , Rating: 2
Although we all love to bash Apple, they aren't the only company to use them for assembly.

I have seen servers from HP, multiple brands of laptops, Xboxes, switching equipment, all made assembled at Foxconn.

As much as I would love to see those jobs come back to the US, with the costs of government regulation here and the cost of labor, I don't think they will ever come back.




RE: Not Just Apple Uses Foxconn
By NellyFromMA on 8/23/2012 12:47:41 PM , Rating: 1
I'd like to know what percentage of Foxconn output goes towards Apple vs other companies. I have a feeling the distribution is largely on the Apple side. So, there's nothing wrong with going for the worst offender, particularly if they offend by several magnitudes of power more than the next offender.


RE: Not Just Apple Uses Foxconn
By Ringold on 8/23/2012 1:50:05 PM , Rating: 2
Apple's probably most famous for their use of them, but likely not even close to being a dominant part of what keeps their million or so direct and indirect employees toiling away:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foxconn#Major_custome...

Some of those I wasn't even aware of, that's kinda funny. Pretty much everybody. I bet in some cigar-smoke filled lounge in Silicon Valley, the executives all rib Apple exec's for being the poor sucker that happens to get all the attention when they all use them.


RE: Not Just Apple Uses Foxconn
By tng on 8/23/2012 1:51:48 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'd like to know what percentage of Foxconn output goes towards Apple vs other companies.
Yeah, I would like to know as well. Frankly I was surprised at how many things I have seen assembled there since I started looking, especially every time I pull the cover off of a server and there it is, or fixing the RROD on the Xbox, replacing a cooling fan in my laptop, etc...


RE: Not Just Apple Uses Foxconn
By tayb on 8/23/2012 3:23:51 PM , Rating: 2
Who the hell cares what percentage goes toward Apple? Seriously, are you that obsessed?


RE: Not Just Apple Uses Foxconn
By NellyFromMA on 8/24/2012 11:38:10 AM , Rating: 2
WTF? I'm commenting on a story, hardly obsessed. Maybe take your meds? What's wrong with you?


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