Apple Labor Investigation Report Released. Foxconn Worker Issues Exposed

The Fair Labor Association has released its much anticipated report into the conditions of Apple's Foxconn factories in China.  This comes after being under fire in recent months about its overseas production of products.

The FLA interviewed 35,000 workers at factories located in Guanlan, Longhua and Chengdu to produce this complete report, which brings some serious worker issues to light.  We've picked out some key parts.

  • Average hours worked per week was found to be fifty-six, seven hours over the legal limit of forty-nine including overtime.
  • Around fifty percent of the workers reported that they had worked eleven or more days in a row.
  • Thirty-three percent of the workers said that they wanted to work more hours, and feared that further restrictions would lead to lower pay.
  • "Young workers (16 to 17 years of age) were found working at hazardous areas, such as CNC section or in some positions that could possibly put them at risk from chemicals or expose them to physical risk factors such as aluminum dust, noise, thermal conditions and vibration."
  • While the factory workers make more than the minimun wage in China, sixty-four percent said that their pay was not enough to "cover basic needs."
  • Minimum wage in Shenzhen is 1,500RMB per month (about £140), and the starting salary at Foxconn is 1,800RMB or £166. After a probation period the salary is raised to 2200RMB or £204 per month.
  • Unions exist at Foxconn; but are reserved to the managerial levels of the company.  Many production line workers had no idea unions existed.
  • One of the primary complaints voiced by the FLA is that Foxconn pays overtime in sections of 30 minutes, meaning that if a worker completed 25 minutes of overtime, Foxconn paid no overtime, getting that piece of labor for free.
  • The FLA has called for a stop to the routine of publicly displaying names of workers facing disciplinary action on the company website and notice boards at the factories.

One piece of criticism about the study is that the FLA did not audit Foxconn's Shenzhen factory: the place where most of the reported suicides occurred in 2010-11.

A commitment from Apple and Foxconn has been made to the FLA for their practices to be altered by 2013 to be in compliance with FLA standards and Chinese law.  

Source: Fair Labor Association