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Independent Audit Finds Foxconn Violates Chinese Work Rules 315

Posted by samzenpus
from the history-repeating dept.
doston writes "The first independent audit of Apple's supply chain found excessive working hours and health and safety issues at its largest manufacturer, piling more pressure on the technology giant. This investigation targeted Hon Hai Precision Industry which is known as Foxconn. The company says they will try to stop their overtime criminality by July, 2013. Will the public ever sour on Apple devices in light of the constant media attention on supplier working conditions?"
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Independent Audit Finds Foxconn Violates Chinese Work Rules

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  • Oh fucking Christ (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:35PM (#39517599)

    You fucking idiots. Every computer, laptop, and Smartphone you own was either manufactured by Foxconn or has parts manufactured by Foxconn.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:39PM (#39517635)

    What a loaded article. It sounds like Foxconn's working conditions are actually much better than most companies in China, and the violations are relatively rare considering that the company has over HALF A MILLION employees. They are also responding to the problems that do exist much more quickly and transparently than many other companies have done.

  • by jjohnson (62583) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:39PM (#39517647) Homepage

    Will the public ever sour on Apple devices in light of the constant media attention on supplier working conditions?

    No, because they'd need to sour on all electronics to avoid Foxxcon's (and its ilk's) moral taint.

    It's not an Apple problem, it's an industry problem, and Apple does better than most at identifying and correcting these conditions.

  • Equal pressure? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NiceGeek (126629) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:40PM (#39517651)

    Anyone going to apply the same pressure to ALL the other computer/phone companies that use the same facilities? I know Slashdot has a extreme anti-Apple bias, but does it blind you to the obvious? The computer you're using right now has parts that were made by Foxconn.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:53PM (#39517781)
    How is apple overcharging their customers? They sell their products for a certain price and customers choose to buy it over similar competing products. Apple's gross margin last quarter was 44%, Samsung's was 32%, so yeah, apple charges a larger premium, but if the customer is willing to pay that price Apple can and should charge as much as they want.
  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:04PM (#39517903)

    I see you don't understand the nuance of the supply chain. The reason that iPhones and so on (and other devices like Xboxes, HP computers, Playstations, Android phones and other things made in that same factory as the iPhone) are not made in the US isn't really a wage issue, it's a worker numbers issue, as well as a logistics problem. All the pieces that make a product are made nearby (or a great many of them are), so moving the assembly to the other side of the world creates huge issues unless there is a very specific reason that makes it economically viable (like in Brazil, where enormous import taxes have made it favourable to build an assembly line inside the country). There are some instances where a component is made in a different place and then shipped (for example, Samsung's Texas facility that is making ARM chips for Apple), but generally minimising the need to ship components around *really* cuts the cost of assembly (far more than the cost of paying hypothetical US factory worker wages, of which there aren't nearly enough to staff an operation of that size anyway).

    They use China because it is cost effective to do so - they have a strong manufacturing base, a large and upwardly-mobile workforce (since they are going through their industrial revolution right now), a growing middle class and a solid infrastructure. The claim that they're using China to dodge environmental regulations is laughable - one of the first companies to limit the amount of expanded polystyrene used, the use of low-lead solder, the removal of PVC from cabling and plastics... and all this before Greenpeace "shamed them" into "making changes" (ie, just telling people what they were doing).

    Putting Apple in the "Big Evil Corporation" list over something like this is just enormously naive. Globalisation is not going away, nor are Apple the only ones doing it (nor are they the "worst offenders" by an extremely long distance). This doesn't give them a free pass - they need to demand better conditions and so on (and they are doing so), but the world is not the black and white super simple "everyone is either a Jedi or a Sith" Star Wars fantasy.

  • by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:05PM (#39517921)

    What a loaded article. It sounds like Foxconn's working conditions are actually much better than most companies in China...

    Attack of the Apple apologists. What it actually shows is that Apple in fact has done little to correct the widely publicized working condition problems in its supply chain. Whether these problems exist in China or anywhere else is immaterial: Apple is the beneficiary of these oppressive labour practices in any case. Now Apple is faced with trimming its fat margins as opposed to its usual strategy of hammering its suppliers in underdeveloped economies in order to maintain its precious stock price. As it should have done in the first place, but reality distortion is Apple's entrenched culture. In the best case Apple begins to purge that ethical and moral rot along with some of the other less admirable legacy of its late founder. But the proof is action, not spin, and so far we have just seen spin [computerworld.com] from Apple.

    And bear in mind that the Fair Labour Association is on the payroll of Apple and other perps. In other words, the primary purpose of the FLA is to "accredit" the supply chain on behalf of the corps that pay its bills. What is the real truth that would be revealed by a truly independent watchdog?

  • Re:Equal pressure? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by artor3 (1344997) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:10PM (#39517967)

    While it's not particularly fair for Apple to take the heat for this, that's the price you pay for being the biggest and most influential company in the industry.

    Besides, flamebait-y summary aside, people aren't souring on Apple. What they are doing is pressuring Apple to pressure Foxconn. Foxconn then hires more people, pays better wages, and requires shorter hours. The result is that the best workers will go there, and there will be indirect pressure on other Chinese companies to improve their conditions. I know my company is giving across the board ~30% raises to our Chinese workers this year, even though we haven't been in the news at all.

    The end result is a good one -- the Chinese working class gets better pay for less work, the working class in the Western world faces less offshoring as Chinese wages rise, and the only drawback is that iGadgets and Androids will cost one or two percent more to manufacture. If Apple has to take a disproportionate amount of blame to achieve these results, so be it. I'm sure their executives are sobbing all the way to the bank.

  • by Tailhook (98486) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:13PM (#39518003)

    What, exactly, is your point?

    Apple gets singled out due to its extraordinary profile and profitability. That is inevitable and entirely legitimate. The fact that Foxconn also happens to be central to the supply chain of practically everything with a power cord only highlights the vast scope of the issue. Our electronics are the product of exploitation, abuse and the systematic avoidance of regulatory scrutiny, and it is high time for that to end.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:16PM (#39518027)

    I'm sure the millions of extremely poor subsistence farmers in China who have an unstable food supply, outdated housing and plumbing, and no healthcare are super appreciative that nice white folks like yourself know what's best for them and prevent Apple from exploiting them with a job that pays several dollars per hour and provides comfortable shelter and plentiful food.

  • it always happens (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:18PM (#39518037) Journal

    Will the public ever sour on Apple devices in light of the constant media attention on supplier working conditions?

    You mean, kind of like how in the 90s, people stopped buying from a company with a certain swoosh [wikipedia.org] on their shoes?

    Oh wait, that didn't happen, and Nike's dividend has grown from $0.03 to $0.30. That, despite having relatively well organized protest groups [teamsweat.org], including groups at over 40 universities. Protests and media attention aren't going to do much. There is zero financial motivation for Apple to make more than a token, symbolic move to improve working conditions. That is enough to appease the minds of their customers. Anything else they do is bonus.

  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:33PM (#39518171)
    I wonder which company asked FLA to perform an independent audit at Foxconn. That wouldn't be Apple. That couldn't possibly be Apple. Guess what: It was Apple.

    Interesting choice of words, "overtime criminality". So people are working 60 hours a week and get paid for overtime. So what are things like in IT in the USA? I hear there are people working 60 hours a week as well, and not getting paid for overtime. In the games industry, there are people working 80 hours. In the medical profession, 80 hours seems to be the average in the USA (at least according to Wikipedia).
  • No not really (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:34PM (#39518173)

    Turns out you can have your electronics made elsewhere. China is not the only place. They are the cheapest, but when you start paying for higher quality goods, they can be made in other places, often ones with not only better worker conditions but higher quality controls. For example my receiver is made in Japan. The lower end models are made in China but the high end stuff is made in Japan (it is a Japanese company). My speakers were built in Ohio (with the drivers themselves made in Denmark) or the UK (with UK drivers) depending on which ones you are talking about. My TV is less high end, but it was still built in Mexico.

    Well guess what? Apple charges high end prices. Don't try and say they don't, their massive profits, massive amount of money in the bank is evidence they do. They can afford to move their production somewhere else if they want. It would mean less profits though.

    I'm not saying they need to, I'm not playing morals here. I'm saying that this bullshit of "Oh they can't do anything!" is just that: bullshit. They charge the kind of prices they can produce their shit elsewhere and have the kind of money that they could set up their own production lines presuming they couldn't find anyone who could meet their needs.

    However it would mean trading off some profits.

  • by guspasho (941623) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @10:12PM (#39518493)

    That point is pure bullshit. The US sustained a large manufacturing sector for decades, and it in turn sustained an expansive middle class. The reason for that is unions. Once the unions began to crumble, the manufacturing became outsourced, or the jobs paid less, and the middle class started to crumble. US households now work twice as many hours per week to make what they once did just forty years ago.

    The idea that we can't have nice things unless they are made by slave labor, or that the Chinese that make our nice things should be happy with their oppressive conditions, is just bullshit. Apple, for their part, is sitting on nearly 100 billion dollars cash, and could do a lot to improve the quality of life for the people who make their products. The current situation is exactly why we, and the Chinese, need stronger unions.

  • by guises (2423402) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @10:29PM (#39518619)
    Yes, "But Timmy's doing it too!" is never a valid excuse.

    The other reason Apple gets singled out is because of their singular ability to change things if they had the will to do so - manufacturer’s will bend over backwards for an Apple contract in a way that they won't do for any other company.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2012 @10:40PM (#39518711)

    Sounds like the same kind of arguments used to support slavery in this country.

  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @11:09PM (#39518927)
    You're right that apple gets singled out due to it's extraordinary profitability. But the reason they're singled out is, you'd think a company with a profit margin like that could let the workers live like humans, wouldn't you?
  • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld&gmail,com> on Thursday March 29, 2012 @11:37PM (#39519033) Homepage
    No, the only people who believe that are the people the pro-business far right has managed to trick.

    The right answer is it's actually nobody's fault; the simple fact is the US had a booming manufacturing sector for decades because there was very little competition, with possible competitors either communist, third world, or first world but recovering from WW2.
  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @11:49PM (#39519087) Homepage

    Honestly, I think the outsourcing would have happened regardless. Unions just happened to have accelerated this process via a positive feedback loop. But to be fair about, I wouldn't put the blame squarely on the Unions. They didn't start the process by their mere existence. Of course, they certainly wouldn't have stopped it either.

    Finger pointing aside, the reality of globalism is that it exposes one absolute fact about the Western world. We (and thus our currency) is over valued in the market. Our fucked up Federal Gov decided to run up massive debt thinking our GDP would be sustained enough to pull us out of it. It's not. We are losing jobs AND are left holding the bag. Not good.

    Basically, we're going to have to wait for the rest of able-bodied world to become expensive before it's no longer cost effective to outsource. Who know how long that will take.

  • by Genda (560240) <mariet@@@got...net> on Friday March 30, 2012 @02:15AM (#39519609) Journal

    Yeah, but look at what unions are fighting for now and what workers are going on strike for. People are striking for a living wage and to be able to take their kids to a doctor and not be financially ruined by doing so. American workers are quick becoming third world workers thanks to a corporate monolith that is reducing the global work force to the lowest common denominator. I too would fight tooth and nail too to be able to get a high enough wage to only have to work one job and have both a roof and not starve (or have my family starve.) Look at Walmart, a company that trades heavily in China, and pays its worker so little that their health plan is Federal and State Health Care plans for people below the poverty line and these folks get food stamps. Americans subsidize Walmart's bottom line by paying their employees their basic benefits. What part of that isn't obscene?

    Americans are desperate. We've been taking a beating so long, we'll settle for just not standing in food lines or having to ask for food stamps. That's not a rampant sign of unions out of control. Corporations have pushed the American worker to the edge of extinction. If we lack an infrastructure for production its not because we lack skilled labor. Its because American Corporations abandoned American for higher profit margins and bigger bonuses for their Boards of Directors. The United States has been in economic free-fall for most of 3 decades. American corporations have been cannibalizing America making trillions as they siphon off the flood of wealth leaving our country. How long before America has been bled dry. From what I can see, not long.

    Global Corporations are now predicated on the fallacy that they can do unlimited social, moral and environmental damage without ever having to pay the price. This doesn't seem crazy only because they've gotten away with it up until now. There is a carrying capacity, and human economies are quick reaching that barrier. There is no indication that those who steer our economies will address the insanity of their behavior until they succeed in crashing the world. Therefore it is up to men and women of vision and conscience to say enough. It is time to re-engineer society, humanity and global enterprise.

  • by peppepz (1311345) on Friday March 30, 2012 @02:19AM (#39519635)
    My Blackberry phone was built in Hungary, a free country (if a bit on the fascist side). My previous Nokia phone was built in Finland, a free country. My current HTC phone was built in Taiwan, a free country.

    The "no alternatives" defense is just the typical excuse given by the exploiters to justify their status quo.

  • by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Friday March 30, 2012 @03:02AM (#39519807)

    I think the outsourcing would have happened regardless. Unions just happened to have accelerated this process via a positive feedback loop.

    Well perhaps you can explain why that didn't happen in Germany, which has far stronger unions than USA? Germany remains a manufacturing powerhouse and is only getting stronger. Of course they play to their own strengths. In Europe at least, the market for German products is strong because they are well engineered and accurately made. You want a decent coffee grinder? Trust me, German grinders are amazingly much better than the next best thing. How about a knife? A car? A camera lens? Etc, etc, etc.

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