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Ear to the Ground

Foxconn Pledges to Ease Up on Factory Workers

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Posted on Apr 2, 2012
INFZM.com via Engadget

Electronics manufacturer Foxconn has taken some considerable hits to its public image in recent years as reports about shocking labor conditions at the Apple supplier’s factories cropped up with more frequency than new iPad product launches. On Sunday, Foxconn’s chairman said that the company is changing its ways.  —KA

CNET:

Speaking at the 2012 Boao Forum for Asia in China, chairman Terry Gou told Reuters yesterday that “we are saying now in the company, ‘you work fewer hours, but get more pay.’ We won’t stop here and will continue to increase salaries.”

Gou was reacting to questions over last week’s audit from the Fair Labor Association that uncovered a number of violations at three Foxconn factories in China.

In just its initial report, the FLA found that Foxconn workers were putting in more than 60 hours per week, while many were working seven days a week without a day off. The report also discovered that workers were not being fairly compensated for overtime or even for the cost of living in Shenzhen and Chengu where the factories are located.

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By Wally, April 2, 2012 at 3:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I also heard part of the Diane Rehm show this morning while driving.  One of that program’s “experts” made the statement that the Chinese economy was run by the Communist Party, as if there was a real communist party in China.  It is a communist party in name only.  The PRC is a thoroughly capitalist country that is rising in the world on the backs of their cheap (and massive) labor pool.  The average worker and peasant would probably be no worse off today if Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalists had won in 1949.

I would be surprised if Foxconn actually lives up to their declared intentions to improve the lives of their labor and discontinue their sweatshop methods.  They will put on a show for the Apple lovers but then get back at the workers somehow.  The “Communist” Party has no interest in the plight of the workers, not as long as they are profiting from the status quo.

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By vector56, April 2, 2012 at 2:59 pm Link to this comment

Like mrfreeze I don’t trust the Corporate Media to not omit important details. For example; I heard the workers were making .35 cents per hour; with the so-called raise are they now making .50 cents per hour?

About 5 years ago I had the pleasure of watching a British made film (on cable) called C.S.A (The Confederate States of America. In my humble opinion it is a “classic” Harry Turtledoveish alternative reality where the South won the Civil war.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0389828/

One of the things I found so fascinating about this film was the almost “normal” marketing tactics that were used to advertise and promote human slavery.

Apple and Foxxcon are both masters at repackaging what amounts to human slavery (.35 to .50 cents per hour) as something humane. Consider this; some Apple products sell for about $400. What percent of that $400 did the worker who assembled the product truly earn? Like property, “labor” has value. Of the billions of human beings on this planet the only thing of value that they possess (in the eyes of the Global Corporations) is their labor. Just as an investor on Wall Street tries to increase the value of his/her “assets” Workers should be encouraged to do the same.

What if all who participated in the creation of this $400 product got a set percentage of each one sold?

The guy who owns Foxxcon is one of the riches men in the world; could this be linked to the “billions” in the value of “surplus” labor not given to the workers? This is a crime against humanity that we all allow to continue. HP, Gateway, Dell…. all use Foxxcon slave labor. Until we value human suffering as much as we value our “gadgets” not much will change.

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By truedigger3, April 2, 2012 at 1:38 pm Link to this comment

I think Apple has hired a new team of Public Relations companies and the spin machine is running at full speed!

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By mrfreeze, April 2, 2012 at 1:24 pm Link to this comment

This morning on the Diane Rehm program they had an interesting panel discussing this very issue:

http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2012-04-02/apple-and-working-conditions-overseas-factories

I’m curious. I always find that the Media always spins this story in several predictable ways:

1) We should all be “thankful” that those poor, hardworking slaves allow us to have all our wonderful toys…...on the cheap…..capitalism good…....
2) We shouldn’t be “picking on” Apple since everyone uses slave labor overseas
3) We must accept that the Chinese workers are better off working in the factories than the alteranative (I’m not sure I “disagree” with that..but it seems a bit simplistic a view)
4) The Chinese WANT to work more, not fewer, hours because they’re living the “american/chinese/capitalism dream”.....I guess.

I could actually go on, but I guess my point is, I mistrust the Media. This “conversation” about labor in China always seem to be shrouded in lies and mystery. There’s also this sense that we should feel “guilty” by not giving the Chinese (or other similar countries) our business and if we don’t, we’re somehow “against capitalism.”

I’d love to hear some of your thoughts about this.

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