Audit Finds That Foxconn Workers Are Laboring Under Crappy Conditions

While it turned out that monologuist Mike Daisey made up a bunch of stuff about working conditions at Foxconn, that doesn’t mean that things there are all sunshine and roses. A recent labor audit found the giant Chinese manufacturer has working conditions that need a whole heck of a lot of improvement.

The Washington Post says the audit from the Fair Labor Association points out numerous problems, and Foxconn has pledged to improve pay and working conditions in its factories as a result. Most high-tech companies in the United States use Foxconn to produce their gadgets, including Apple’s iPads, Microsoft’s Xbox, and PCs from Dell and Hewlett-Packard.

The audit found that more than half of the employees at Foxconn’s assembly plants for Apple worked more than the limit of 60 hours per week, as set by Apple. Many also worked seven days in a row without a 24-hour break.

The group also found hazardous working conditions at the plant. Apple requested the report in January amidst a firestorm of controversy over how their products are made and a spate of worker suicides. The report comes on the heels of a visit from Apple CEO Tim Cook, who toured Foxconn this week, and the company says they’re going to clean things up.

Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said the company agrees with the findings and will work to implement its recommendations, including reducing worker hours.

“We think empowering workers and helping them understand their rights is essential,” Dowling said, adding that Apple is working to make its supply chain “a model for the industry.”

However, complying with those findings will probably mean companies will have to shell out more dough for extra workers so that they can continue to meet with consumer demand. That could lead to higher prices on products — but considering the outcry over how those gadgets are made, we’re sure ponying up a few more bucks for your shiny bit of status will be just fine. Right? Right.

Labor audits find poor working conditions at Apple factories [Washington Post]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Important Business Man (Formerly Will Print T-shirts For Food) says:

    I grow my own Apples at home. You guys are crazy for paying that much for an Apple.

  2. Olivia Neutron-Bomb says:

    My word! Apple should work with them on reforms. I say bring the maximum hours down to 49 per week including overtime, while keeping total compensation for workers at its current level. Then, to keep up with demand, Foxconn should hire tens of thousands of additional workers and build more housing and canteens.

    • bhr says:

      you want to pay 50% more for you iCrap?

    • AcctbyDay says:

      I understand that these people are worked hard, but 49 hours a week is nothing. I’m clearing 70 a week right now during tax season. Not a big issue. Should the other conditions improve, yes. However, you have to be careful with broad spectrum statements like “49 hours a week”. That is specifically how France got in the problems it is in. Frances unemployment is high because they cannot afford to pay people to do little work.

      For the record, I strongly believe that they are being mistreated. However, there needs to be a *fair* solution to both workers and company.

      • SmokeyBacon says:

        Yep, our techs at my company often work 50 hours per week or more, and Mr Bacon works more than that at his job. I am sure the conditions are awful but their hours don’t seem that out of line for most of th people I know (I am lucky that I am 40 hours and that is it – if I work overtime is has to be for a very good reason – which there really aren’t any for – or I get a point on my record (demerit really) that will affect my raise).

    • Jawaka says:

      This isn’t an Apple factory. Its a Foxconn factory which happens to make Apple products.

  3. dwtomek says:

    Empowering employees is essential? Does that only count for non-us workers?

  4. jerry101 says:

    Mike Daisy didnt “make a bunch of stuff up”. He embellished his first hand account with second hand accounts, pretending he saw some things that he just read about.

    Yeah, he lied, but not about what Foxconn was doing, just about what he personally saw.

    If I say that I saw the soldier shoot and kill 16 afghans a couple of weeks ago, I’d be lying. But that wouldn’t change the fact that a soldier shot and killed 16 afghans.

    And that fact always gets left out of the Mike Daisey stories, and that omission makes those stories as misleading, if not more misleading, than Daisey’s original story, as omitting what he lied about makes it seem like he lied about everything.

    • mister_roboto says:

      True- that guy is a liar, but it doesn’t automatically make Foxconn a wonderful place.

      • PXAbstraction says:

        Pretty much. Sadly, since his story involved going up against Apple, the legion of fanboys (and the tech press which is basically the same thing now) have been pretty quick to scream about how there’s obviously no problem because Mike Daisey stretched the truth. I’m furious with his action as he’s served to only damage a very worthwhile cause but it’s driving me nuts how many insist there’s no problem simply because of what he did. I hope that stories like this will push positive change. No one in the high tech industry has an excuse for this stuff happening but Apple being the world’s most valuable company has even less.

    • jerry101 says:

      Ok, I just pulled up the retraction transcript, and I’ll correct myself. He did blatantly lie about a few things. But that just goes to show how bad the reporting has been on the retraction. Without looking at the transcript, I didn’t know the specifics of what was a flat out lie, what was an embellishment, and what was true. By the way ,it seems that he lied about security guards carrying guns.

      He didn’t lie about child labor at apple factories, only that he witnessed child labor.

      I don’t have time to read the full transcript, but with a story and a retraction this big, it’s kind of important to know what the lies really were and what was true.

      • Doubting thomas says:

        he did lie about chiuld labor. he inflated the numbers by 1000%. he said that child labor made up 5 to 6 percent of their labor and audits found it to be .005 to .006 percent. That is the difference between someone who lied about their age slipping through and actively hiring children.

  5. Matthew PK says:

    So…. business as usual in China?

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      And the US where the tech junkies and fad followers need the latest & greatest at the cheapest price to prove how hip and cool they think they are.

  6. unpolloloco says:

    Interesting the difference between news sources. Huffington Post spun it in a more positive light:

    Says they found few safety violations (and most have been corrected) and that most of the workers that are working insane hours want to do to in order to make more money.

  7. crazydavythe1st says:

    Some of this is worth thinking about. But most Americans (myself being one) don’t understand that many countries just do things differently and have a different economy than we do.

    For example, suicide threats are often utilized as form of collective bargaining the same way a strike may be used in the US. Without the same laws that we have here, a traditional strike would leave the workers fired and immediately replaced since Foxconn is actually considered a relatively desirable place to work. However, an employee that commits suicide often gets a huge payout to his or her family equivalent to years of pay mostly due to Chinese tradition. Sort of like how it might be if life insurance policies in the U.S. didn’t have suicide exclusion clauses. Only recently has Foxconn sought to cut these payments. Unlike it is here, it is less a “cry for help” and more “a cry for attention”.

    As for pay, even when you account for currency exchange, the equivalent of $1 in China will get you much further than it does here. As for the hours, a lot more people work everyday or over 60 hours/wk in the U.S. than one might think.

    Not saying that the conditions are good, but they aren’t as bad as the media makes it out to be.

    • Ansuz says:

      Exactly. I’ve noticed that when the media runs stories like this, they always apply a western labor standard, forgetting that those standards don’t currently apply in much of the world.

      No one at FoxConn is forced to work there – they all willingly choose to accept those jobs with those conditions because that job is the best they can get in their area of the world with their skill set. Over time, those conditions will improve as more companies open factories and compete for the best workers by improving conditions.

      Its the history of every country on Earth that has industrialized – things start out very crappy then get better over time as the labor markets mature.

  8. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    Lies. There was that one other guy who went to the Foxconn Apple factory and said it was all peachy. Er, appley. So say we all.

  9. Hi_Hello says:

    60 hours per work, without having to work at two difference jobs? AWESOME!!

  10. u1itn0w2day says:

    Conformation not a revelation. This is one of those areas where Steve Jobs and the executives he delegated to failed as have many other corporations & executives.

    The hours might not seem that bad although they were shorted on overtime but for the line workers the chances of getting repetative motion injuries increases. It’s also longer exposure to chemical hazards. The employees should be rotated in and out of particular jobs/tasks to help prevent that.

  11. sendmoney2me says:

    I’d rather see Apple bring those jobs to the United States where they sell all of their products.

  12. Otto44 says:

    It’s great that American Job Creators are allowed to use Communist slave labor as leverage to bust labor unions, and suppress wages in the US- of course they owe their very existence to the US consumer base, but why worry about little things like that.

    • crazydavythe1st says:

      Communist slave labor? Seriously? They have the same right to work principles that we do – they can quit anytime they want. Calling it slave labor is an insult to those that experience true slave labor.

      Even the Communist part barely applies…many if not most of Foxconn’s factories are in free-market oriented special economic zones.

  13. AllanG54 says:

    All I can say is…”Duh” and “no shit”

  14. Press1forDialTone says:

    Apple + Foxconn = Irreversible Epic Fail
    AppleSolution = Apple + AssembyOnlyInAmerica
    FoxconnSolution = ChinaSpring + GovernmentTakeOverByOrdinaryChinesePeople – AmericanInvolvement