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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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  • 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.

    • As others have noted Foxconn is a sub-contractor of multiple companies so really Apple should not be the fall guy. But, this is China and personal freedoms are just not as valued and China is not a democracy.
      • As others have noted Foxconn is a sub-contractor of multiple companies so really Apple should not be the fall guy. But, this is China and personal freedoms are just not as valued and China is not a democracy.

        Foxconn isn't anyone's subcontractor. Foxconn is a contractor. And only an idiot would put blame on Apple here because Apple is the company that hired FLA to do audits at Foxconn exactly for the purpose to find if everything is up to scratch there and to find and fix problems.

        However, what is even more stupid is your claim "personal freedoms are just not as valued in China". Show me a Western country where working 48 hours a week is illegal.

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      Criminal is criminal.

    • 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.

      • Just a thought. But what if empowering the local Chinese with more wealth and work advancement opportunities provided enough societal confidence for political change? Would new-found freedom from governmental reform be worth it? I'm just asking...

    • by Raenex (947668)

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

      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/26/business/ieconomy-apples-ipad-and-the-human-costs-for-workers-in-china.html?pagewanted=all [nytimes.com]

      "Many major technology companies have worked with factories where conditions are troubling. However, independent monitors and suppliers say some act differently. Executives at multiple suppliers, in interviews, said that Hewlett-Packard and others allowed them slightly more profits and other allowances if they were used to improve worker conditions.

      'Our suppliers are very open with us

  • 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.

    • 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 Shavano (2541114)

      Yes. We should boycott APPLE and EVERY OTHER Foxconn customer until they come into compliance with the law.

      And those of us who use Foxconn as a supplier should de-source them. There are plenty of other suppliers.

      • by Ash-Fox (726320)

        Yes. We should boycott APPLE and EVERY OTHER Foxconn customer until they come into compliance with the law.

        So... Off the top of my head... Microsoft, HP, IBM, Apple, Acer, AMD, ASUS, Cisco, Dell, Intel, Motorolla, Nintendo, Nokia, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba... Whos left that doesn't do anything with Foxconn?

    • by exomondo (1725132)

      Anyone going to apply the same pressure to ALL the other computer/phone companies that use the same facilities?

      Logically you would go for the entity with the most influence over the operator of the facilities, that would be Apple.

      I know Slashdot has a extreme anti-Apple bias

      I don't know what you've been reading but quite clearly the apple threads on /. are full of discussion (well arguments if we're honest) over apple policies and devices, it's not some apple-hater love-in where everyone is just patting eachother on the back for criticizing apple like you seem to think it is.

    • My phone is made in Taiwan. I don't know who HTC uses, maybe internal, but it is of Taiwanese origin, not Chinese. My computer does have some Chinese parts in it, namely the powersupply and motherboard, however neither are produced by Foxconn. Not saying the companies that made them (CWT and MSI) are any better, but there you go.

      The rest of the components are different countries. My CPU was fabbed by Intel in Chandler, Arizona and packaged by Intel in Costa Rica. My RAM was made by Micron (under their Cruci

      • by clifyt (11768)

        Wait? You don't buy from China? You buy from Taiwan (officially known as the Republic of China) and is the home of Foxconn? And even though Taiwan and China are separate gov'ts, they both treat their employees almost the same...and one can claim their products are made in Taiwan even if it is made on the mainland?

        Here is news for you, HTC is primarily built AND DESIGNED by Foxconn. It isn't hard to look this up. Go on, I'll wait.

        So while you are being snarky about how much above everyone else you are,

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      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.

      Easy. Apple can, because it'll become a great competitive advantage.

      Imagine Samsung is about to release a new phone, and Apple sends FLA inspectors to the Foxconn factory to ensure that it's not just Apple employees getting the good treatment.

    • I know Slashdot has a extreme anti-Apple bias

      Actually, it's an anti-evil bias.

    • Maybe because to reduce the workload per person, they'll have to find more workers (the pool of which is starting to dry up), build more infrastructure to support them, etc. Alternatively, they could automate more tasks, but that would also require time and effort to procure, install, and configure the massive amount of equipment needed.

      What, you were expecting them to call all their clients tomorrow and say "Oh, you remember that contract we had for $DEVICE? We're cutting production by 25% starting today

      • by Shavano (2541114)

        not enough workers IN CHINA???

        • by medcalf (68293)
          Not enough trained workers in the right place with the support infrastructure to house and feed them. Logistics is everything.
      • by guspasho (941623)

        The labor pool is drying up? When Foxconn is the Chinese equivalent of a dream job? I keep hearing about how Chinese are so lucky to be working at Foxconn because it's do much better than most other Chinese can hope for, those 60hour workweeks and rat-infested dormitories are so much better than what anyone else in China has. How can the labor pool be drying up?

        • by symbolset (646467) *
          Having put in numerous 90+ hour work weeks myself, sometimes over 100, I'm not so sure 60 is so terrible unless they are at it for too long.
    • by canajin56 (660655)
      That anecdote shows they can very quickly make a lot of people work more hours. That's the opposite of what they have to do here, which is make more than a million people all work less. Their two options there are dropping contracts and/or letting deadlines slip, because they don't have the workforce to fill them all. Or, they can hire another quarter million full time employees. I'm sure there is space for those quarter million people to live, too.
  • by tehlinux (896034) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:50PM (#39517755)
    China has work rules!?
  • 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).
    • by peppepz (1311345)
      There are some differences between working at a manufacturing line, where you can't literally have a pause to pee because the line will go on with or without you, and waiting behind a desk for patients to call you. Also, there's a difference between getting paid 16,000 $ a month (a doctor in the USA) and 300 $ a month (a worker at Foxconn).
  • Queue the angry mobs of workings who actually want to work those incredible hours. They can't get the wages we do but they can certainly work much more than us and are often willing to.

  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:49PM (#39518325)
    They're basically saying "We know we're committing crimes and we plan to continue to do it until July 2013
  • by PNutts (199112) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @10:06PM (#39518451)

    Spin can go a lot of different ways. [myway.com]

    From the article:

    The FLA found few safety violations, noting that the company had already dealt with problems like blocked fire exits and defective protective gear.

    The FLA found that many workers at the Foxconn factories want to work even more overtime, so they can make more money. Foxconn told the FLA that it will raise hourly salaries to compensate workers for the reduced hours.

    Heerden said that it's common to find workers in developing countries looking for more overtime, rather than less.

    "They're often single, they're young, and there's not much to do, so frankly they'd just rather work and save," he said.
    The auditors examined one years' worth of payroll and time records at each factory, conducted interviews with some workers and had 35,000 of them fill out anonymous surveys.

    Apple has started tracking the working hours of half a million workers in its supply chain, and said that 89 percent of them worked 60 hours or less in February, even though the company was ramping up production of the new iPad. Workers averaged 48 hours per week.

  • by Pesticidal (1148911) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @10:55PM (#39518809)
    Excessive hours? It's all part of the Apple culture: 90 Hours A Week And Loving It [folklore.org]
  • "Will the public ever sour on Apple devices in light of the constant media attention on supplier working conditions?""
    Do people still by Nike products?

  • I wonder how many iPhones Apple sold in the time it took the writer to come-up with that phrase...
  • I think that all those commenters believing that China's working conditions are OK should be "re-educated", in the Mao sense, by working for a year at some Foxconn manufacturing line (without access to their american bank account for the whole period, of course).
  • ABC (Score:4, Informative)

    by jones_supa (887896) on Friday March 30, 2012 @02:29AM (#39519683)
    If you haven't seen it already, here's the ABC News clip of the Foxconn factory [youtube.com] to get a glimpse inside.

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