Apple agrees to better assembly plant conditions: Employees saddened

The social justice concerns users of Apple iPhones, iPads, iPods and Mac computers about working conditions in China’s Foxconn electronics factories have been addressed by Apple and Foxconn.

Not only do workers face long hours, but they also face many hazardous conditions. There have been reports of injuries, and some employees have attempted suicide.

In response the issues identified by the Fair Labor Association, Apple and Foxconn have agreed to improved working conditions at the Chinese manufacturer’s plants, reports Reuters.

The agreement covers safety conditions, the maximum number of working hours and overtime compensation.

The agreement will have significant effects outside of Apple. Any increases in costs that come from the agreement will impact companies like Dell, HP, Amazon, Motorola Mobility, Nokia and Sony, who have contracts with Foxconn.

Foxconn has pledged to

  • reduce working hours to 49 per week,
  • hire tens of thousands of new workers to compensate for those lost hours,
  • build housing and canteens for those workers.

Because labour costs are only a fraction of the overall costs of devices from these manufacturers, the boost in consumer prices likely won’t be major.

Some employees at Foxconn are concerned at the reduction in opportunities to work overtime.

Wu Jun heard that Foxconn had given employees landmark concessions her reaction was worry, not elation.

“We are worried we will have less money to spend. Of course, if we work less overtime, it would mean less money,” said Wu, a 23-year-old employee said.

Huang Hai, a 21-year-old man who said he had worked at Foxconn’s factory for about two years said “I don’t go out that much as there is nothing much to do.”

“This is a good company to work for because the working conditions are better than a lot of other small factories.”

The agreement follows on from a visit to the Foxconn factories by Tim Cook, the new Apple CEO. At a conference last month Cook was reported as saying “No one is doing more to improve working conditions in China than Apple.


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