Extracts from Report in Financial Times By Kathrin Hille in Zhengzhou
The ramp-up of the Zhengzhou plant since 2010 is part of Foxconn’s gradual shift of its manufacturing operation to China’s inland provinces, a strategy which the company hoped could address rising labour costs and labour shortages.
But some of the new plants, have met the same problems as the company’s largest factory in Shenzhen, the export hub next to Hong Kong.
This comes as labour unrest is generally on the rise in China, with young workers less willing to sacrifice their personal lives for meagre savings, and more aware of their rights.
The Zhengzhou dispute follows a riot at Foxconn’s plant in Taiyuan in late September. More than 2,000 workers in that factory – which makes iPhone components – smashed shop windows, overturned cars and burnt a police post following a brawl between workers and security guards.
On Saturday, Foxconn denied a report by China Labor Watch, a US-based non-governmental organisation, that up to 4,000 of its workers in Zhengzhou went on strike on Friday.
It would only acknowledge in a statement that there had been disputes between a small group of production-line workers and quality assurance personnel at the Zhengzhou factory earlier in the week on October 1 and 2.
In the Saturday statement, Foxconn said: “These were isolated incidents and were immediately addressed and measures taken, including providing additional staff for the lines in question, to address the issues raised by both production workers”.
But in Zhengzhou, workers, company representatives and government officials told the FT of a continued strain on labour relations that was exacerbated by the pressure caused by the iPhone 5 orders.
There have been complaints, for example, from consumers about scratches on the back of the new device.
“There was some problem with the coating chosen for the casing, so they tightened the rules for quality control,” said Cai Yun, an engineer who has been with Foxconn for six years. “But the pressure in these jobs is already too high.
You add one more thing, and there’s bound to be trouble.
Recent Testimony from Workers at Zhengzhou Foxconn
Sept 11, 2012
Recent news has reported that the base monthly salary of official workers in Foxconn’s Zhengzhou factory has risen to 2,000 RMB ($312.5) beginning on August 1, whereas the salary used to be 1,800 RMB ($281.3).
Since the beginning of July, Foxconn Zhengzhou has been assembling the iPhone 5. Given the production demands associated with such an order, the workers still have excessive overtime hours every month, working 20 or more hours of overtime per week.
Some workers will only get two or three days off per month; line and team leaders will only get one day off.
Moreover, there are also student-interns under 18 years old in the Zhengzhou factory. Such a situation, in fact, is prevalent in other Foxconn factories, such as those in Huai’an, Chongqing, and Taiyuan Foxconn.
A line leader we interviewed told our investigator that there were 10 student-interns between the ages of 16 and 18 assigned to his production line.
The following is the original message he sent on September 10, 2012:
I passed by the female dorm building and saw a group of female students quarreling with their teacher. They were all young. I heard one student crying, “I want to go back to school. I don’t want to work here anymore! Why do you force us to work in this remote place!”
The schools always send student workers in the afternoon, so even if the female students want to leave, it would be too late. Today is Teacher’s Day. I don’t want to say bad things about teachers, but I can’t help cursing them.
The following is a worker’s testimony about the status of their working conditions after Apple alleged Foxconn had improved its Chinese labor conditions:
"I am a current worker at Foxconn (Zhengzhou). In fact, all the reports of increasing wages and reducing working hours are deceptive.
1. Wages are low.
Though wages are seemingly increasing, they are actually decreasing. The monthly base salary is now [in July] 1,550 RMB ($242.2).
After deducting for meal, accommodation, and social insurance fees of 420RMB ($65.9), 110 RMB ($17.2), and 180 RMB ($28.1), respectively, the average monthly income is now 2,100 RMB ($328.1).
[In August, the factory raised the base salary of new workers to 1800 RMB ($284) and of veteran workers to 2000 RMB ($316),but we don’t yet know the total salary after overtime and deductions are accounted for.]
2. Management is abrasive. Management verbally abuse workers and reduce some workers’ overtime hours on purpose [so that they work less hours and get lower pay).
3. The rate of work is intense. We workers have to complete the work load of what before was 11 hours (or sometimes up to 14 hours)in only 10 hours.
4. The management of the dorms use room keys to check workers’ rooms, including personal lockers, at their own will without permission of the workers.
5. Unlawful deduction of wages. The break time of workers is used as time for work preparation.
Also, workers are kept after work to have meetings in which workers are scolded by management, the occupied time also not being calculated into wages.
In August, the worker provided China Labor Watch with an update on iPhone 5 production:
We are now producing the iPhone 5. We 87 workers have to assemble 3,000 phones per day, and as our team leader told us, after the new iPhone goes public, we will need to assemble 6,500 phones per day.
We are now working more than 10 hours a day. There are many student workers in our production line, all of whom are around 18 years old. They've been complaining and demanding to go back to school but are never allowed.
See also :
see also: http://redchinacn.net/portal.php