Introduction

The series of suicides at Foxconn[1] in the first five months of 2010 seemed to have accelerated its relocation across all parts of China. One year on, the inland provincial governments compete with each other for Foxconn’s investment by offering concessions to the company. In the first round of competition, Zhengzhou of Henan Province has won the project among various interested cities, followed by Chengdu of Sichuan Province after rounds of negotiations. With strong governmental support, the workforce in Foxconn has grown to 1 million, a predominant majority of its workforce is young peasant-workers from the countryside. At recruitment talks, Foxconn paints a whole new rosy picture: high wages and good prospect. It looks like Foxconn might have reflected deeply upon its military management and low-cost production strategy, which had driven workers to despair. A number of Foxconn’s customers, notably Apple, HP and Dell, have also pledged to “work with Foxconn” to live up to higher international labour standards. A big question is how this hidden electronics supply chain really works. SACOM is interested to track the working conditions of the new Foxconn production sites to ascertain the workplace improvement in place, if any.

While Foxconn is moving to the inner part of China, Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) is interested to track the working conditions of the new Foxconn production sites. In this spring, SACOM researchers visited two Foxconn production facilities in Chengdu and Chongqing municipality in Western China, where they are manufacturing Apple iPad 2 and HP laptops. We also revisited Foxconn’s flagship plants in two industrial towns, Longhua and Guanlan in the Shenzhen, where employees are still housed in dormitories surrounding with anti-suicide nets.

Factory profile:

Shenzhen

Chengdu

Chongqing

Campus

(1) Longhua and (2) Guanlan

(1) southern plant: Chengdu High-Tech Comprehensive Bonded Zone and (2) northern plant: Chengdu Import/Export Processing Zone

Xiyong Micro-electronics industrial park

Estimated Workforce

500,000

100,000

10,000

Client

Apple, HP, Nokia, Dell, etc.

Apple

HP mainly

Product

computer, laptop, mobile phone, server, etc.

iPad

Laptop and network

While Apple commends the measures taken by Foxconn to improve working conditions, SACOM finds predicaments of workers remain. Workers always have excessive and forced overtime in order to gain a higher wage. Workers are exposed to dust from construction site and shop floor without adequate protection. Even worse, they are threatened by potential harm of occupational diseases in various departments. Additionally, military-styled management is still in practice, characterized by “military training” for new workers.

Throughout the investigation, when researchers asked about the feeling of Foxconn workers about the hardship of workers, like low wages, potential harm of occupational diseases, work pressure and exhaustion, the typical answer is “I get used to that”. Despite of grievances from workers, workers feel it is helpless to bring changes. Therefore, they can only submit themselves to the rules and culture of Foxconn or resign. A couple of interviewees with whom SACOM is in contact with have left the factory within 1-3 months to seek better jobs. This reflects human management at Foxconn as merely a slogan.

Foxconn has primary responsibility in labour rights abuses. The clients, including Apple and HP, which declare decent working conditions at their suppliers have indispensible obligations to put their promise into practice. Taking labour rights violations in Chengdu are the most problematic, Apple, the sole buyer of Chengdu plant, must take actions to improve working conditions at Foxconn. SACOM’s international partners of the IT campaign, makeITfair and GoodElectronics network, designated May7th as the global action day on Apple and Foxconn.[2] This report is part of the efforts to invite concerned consumers to voice out our aspiration of fair IT products from both Apple and Foxconn.

One year on: Apple and Foxconn promise unfulfilled

Promise

Reality

Recruitment and employment term

In strict compliance with law

Misleading statements (e.g. wages, benefits, and location of work)

Wages

Across-the-board increase

miscalculation of wages; unpaid overtime work

Work hours

Decrease from 80 hours OT a month to 36 hours overtime work a month

Routinely 80-100 hours overtime work a month; continuous shift which denies meal break

Health & safety

Adequate personal protective equipment; health examination

Lack of protections; workers are not well informed about the chemicals in use

Student workers

Length of internship regulated; skills training provided; underage workers protected (16-18 years of age)

Interns are de facto workers; on mandatory night shift

Grievance mechanism

Better worker-management communication by launching hotline for workers

Workers cannot find effective ways to handle the grievances at workplace

 


 

[1] The Taiwanese owned Foxconn Technology Group, a subsidy of Hon Hai Precision Industries Ltd., is the world’s leading electronics manufacturer. Foxconn ranked 112th among Global Fortune 500

Companies in 2010. Currently, Foxconn has a workforce of a million workers all over China.

[2] Time to bite into a fair Apple, makeITfair, http://makeitfair.org/.

The full report is downloadable at http://sacom.hk/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/2011-05-06_foxconn-and-apple-fail-to-fulfill-promises1.pdf.

Contact Persons

CHAN Sze Wan, Debby

Project Officer

Email: debby@sacom.hk

Tel: +852 2392 5464 or +852 6756 8964

CHENG Yi Yi

Project Officer

Email: yycheng@sacom.hk

Tel: +852 2392 5464 or + 852 6012 0312

###

Action: Time to bite into a fair Apple

Students & Scholars Against Corporate MisbehaviourSACOM conducted investigation at Foxconn’s plants in Chengdu, production sites solely for iPad, in March and April 2011. And we are startled by the awful working conditions there.

Foxconn’s production sites in Chengdu are not ready yet. Construction and production take place side by side at Foxconn. Workers have to work on the construction site where the trucks passing by at high speed besides them. Dust flies around the factory and workers have to bring their own masks for protection. On the shop floor, workers are exposed to aluminum dust and chemicals, but personal protective equipment is inadequate. They cannot talk during work. If there is any mistake, the workers concerned will be berated. Additionally, almost all the new workers have to undergo “military training” which aims to indoctrinate the workers the idea of obedience.

To protest against Foxconn and Apple for the dire working conditions of workers, SACOM will echo the call from makeITfair on the global action day, Time to bite into a fair Apple. Another 16 cities in Europe, Latin America and Asia will have action on the same day.

Date: 7 May 2011

Time: 4:30-6:30pm

Venue: Apple Premium Reseller, Mongkok Pedestrian Zone (G/F, Sun Kong House 2P, Sai Yeung Choi Street, Mongkok, Hong Kong)

Activity: street drama, exhibition, petition