Tuesday, July 10, 2012

503 Apple enslaves workers in China: 76 hours a week and more than 7 days straight

Apple enslaves workers in China: 76 hours a week and more than 7 days

This is an attack on workers everywhere. When employers know that they
can get away with such abuse offshore, they are empowered to abuse local
workers too.

I see it in the Childers/Bundaberg farming area with foreign
backpackers. Fruit & vegetable picking and packing companies which
employ a high % of backpackers make it hard for local workers to claim
their entitlements - they know they are dispensible.

I have often touted Apple products. But these are the old, genuine Apple
computers which run OS 9; the G4 was the last true Apple computer. And
G4s, although 10 years old, are still running strong - mine is; this
newsletter is coming to you from a G4 running OS9, and I use it for my
website too.

More recent Apple computers, and iPads and iPhones, are really NeXT
machines - NeXT being the Steve Jobs company which took over Apple. The
technology may be brilliant, but Apple has sold out to Mammon.

(1) Apple enslaves workers in China: 76 hours a week and more than 7
days straight
(2) Apple, Foxconn set new standard for China work conditions
(3) Apple pledge to share more of its revenue with Chinese workers

(1) Apple enslaves workers in China: 76 hours a week and more than 7
days straight


Probe finds rights violations at Apple supplier

Updated March 31, 2012 08:50:03

An audit of three factories pumping out coveted Apple gadgets has found
abuses of Chinese labour law, including employees working more than 76
hours a week and more than seven days straight without a required
24-hour break.

Along with excessive overtime and not always compensating workers
properly for extra hours that were put in, the nearly month-long
investigation uncovered health and safety risks and "crucial
communication gaps."

"The Fair Labour Association gave Apple's largest supplier the
equivalent of a full-body scan through 3,000 staff hours investigating
three of its factories and surveying more than 35,000 workers," said the
watchdog's president Auret van Heerden.

"Apple and its supplier Foxconn have agreed to our prescriptions, and we
will verify progress and report publicly."

With 1.2 million workers, Foxconn, an affiliate of Taiwan's Hon Hai
Precision Industry, is by far Apple's largest and most influential partner.

While the audit found multiple violations of labour law at the Foxconn
factories, it also found many of the workers would like to work more
hours and make more money.

Mr van Heerden says this sentiment is typical of migrant workers in China.

"Migrant workers go to find work with a view to make as much money as
they can in the shortest time as possible," he said.

"So they do push for extra hours, especially overtime hours that are
paid at a premium."

Young, male, migrant

The survey of Foxconn workers revealed the average age of workers
building Apple products was 23 and over 60 per cent were male.

Less than 6 per cent of workers in the three facilities were between the
ages of 16 and 18.

Almost all of the workers in Guanlan and Longhua had come from other
countries or regions looking for jobs.

But in recent years Foxconn has encouraged workers to move outside the
infamous factory dormitories.

About 16 per cent of the workers surveyed said the dorms were "very
much" crowded while another 19 per cent said "yes, a little", while 50
per cent said the question was "not applicable".

The survey revealed that 71 per cent of them do not think the factory
canteens serve good food.

Nearly 48 per cent disagreed with the premise that the canteens in the
factories were clean and hygienic.

Most of the workers in the three factories were employed as "operators,"
with engineers making up less than 4 per cent of the worker population
in the two Shenzhen factories, Guanlan and Longhua.

In Chengdu, nearly 11 per cent of the workers were engineers, according
to FLA.

A majority of all those surveyed said the compensation does not meet
their basic needs.

One particular concern to workers was aluminium dust, which had caused
an explosion in Foxconn's Chengdu factory.

Apple chief visits

In response to the report, Apple says it has agreed to work with Foxconn
to tackle wage and working condition violations at the factories that
produce its popular products.

Foxconn will hire tens of thousands of new workers, clamp down on
illegal overtime, improve safety protocols and upgrade worker housing
and other amenities.

Apple announced the moves as the company's chief executive, Tim Cook,
was paying a visit to China.

State media said he had met with vice premier Li Keqiang, the man tipped
to be country's next leader, who told him foreign firms should do more
to protect workers.

Apple and Foxconn are so dominant in the global technology industry that
their newly forged accord will likely have a substantial ripple effect
across the sector.

The deal may raise costs for other manufacturers who contract with the
Taiwanese company, including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Amazon.com,
Motorola, Nokia and Sony.

It could result in higher prices for consumers, though the impact will
be limited because labour costs are only a small fraction of the total
cost for most high-tech devices.


(2) Apple, Foxconn set new standard for China work conditions


Reuters, Friday March 30 2012

By Poornima Gupta and Edwin Chan

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc and its main contract manufacturer
Foxconn agreed to tackle violations of conditions among the 1.2 million
workers assembling iPhones and iPads in a landmark decision that could
change the way Western companies do business in China.

Taiwan's Foxconn Technology Group, whose subsidiary Hon Hai Precision
Industry assembles Apple devices in factories in China, will hire tens
of thousands of new workers, eliminate illegal overtime, improve safety
protocols and upgrade workers' housing and other amenities.

It is a response to one of the largest investigations ever conducted of
a U.S. company's operations outside of America. Apple had agreed to the
probe by the independent Fair Labor Association (FLA) to stem a
crescendo of criticism that its products were built on the backs of
mistreated Chinese workers.

The association, in disclosing its findings from a survey of three
Foxconn plants and over 35,000 workers, said it had unearthed multiple
violations of labour law, including extreme hours and unpaid overtime.

FLA President Auret van Heerden expects the agreement between Apple, the
world's most valuable listed company, and Foxconn, which supplies 50
percent of the world's consumer electronics, to have far reaching affects.

"Apple and Foxconn are obviously the two biggest players in this
sector," he said in an interview. "Since they're teaming up to drive
this change, I really do think they set the bar for the rest of the sector."

That could affect brand names that have contracts with the Taiwanese
company, including Dell Inc , Hewlett-Packard , Amazon.com Inc ,
Motorola Mobility Holdings , Nokia Oyj and Sony Corp <6758.T>.

The agreement is a sign of the increasing power of Chinese workers to
command higher wages given increasing prices in China, and an ageing
workforce that has led to labour shortages.

"Foxconn is proposing this better deal," said van Heerden. "Their
competitors will be obliged to offer a similar package just in order to
get enough workers."

Working conditions at many Chinese factories supplying Western brands
are considerably inferior to those at Foxconn, experts say.

Still, labour costs are a fraction of the total cost of most high-tech
devices, so consumers might not see higher prices.

"If Foxconn's labour cost goes up ... that will be an industry-wide
phenomenon and then we have to decide how much do we pass on to our
customers versus how much cost do we absorb," HP Chief Executive Meg
Whitman told Reuters in February.

Under the agreement, Foxconn said it will reduce working hours to 49 per
week, including overtime, while keeping total compensation for workers
at its current level. The FLA audit found workers in the three factories
put in more than 60 hours per week on average during peak production

To keep up with demand, Foxconn will hire tens of thousands of
additional workers and build more housing and canteens.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, who took over from the late co-founder Steve Jobs
last year, has shown a willingness to tackle the criticism head-on.

"We fully support their recommendations," an Apple spokesman said. "We
share the FLA's goal of improving lives and raising the bar for
manufacturing companies everywhere."

But New York-based labour advocacy group China Labor Watch said the
report failed to address the workers' primary concerns.

"Until Apple shares a larger proportion of its profits with its supplier
factories, workers will receive the same pittance for a salary while
working around the clock," Li Qiang, the director of China Labor Watch,
said in an emailed statement.

The agreement has not gone down well with some Foxconn workers, either.

Chen Yamei, 25, who has worked at a Foxconn factory at Longhua in
southern Guangdong province for four years, complained that her salary
will drop to just over 2,000 yuan a month (198 pounds) from over 4,000 yuan.

"We are here to work and not to play," she said. "Our income is very
important." Another worker was less concerned.

"Working here is just so-so. Working conditions and the pay are all
right," said Li Wei, a 20-year-old who has worked at the Foxconn factory
for about a year.

"However there are around 100,000 people in there, so sometimes the
feeling can be oppressive," Li said, who works eight hours, or a maximum
10 hours, a day.


Hon Hai shares <2317.TW> fell on Friday around 1.3 percent,
underperforming a rising market. Apple shares, which hit a record high
on Wednesday, dropped 1.3 percent on Thursday.

The report marks the first phase of a probe into Apple's contract
manufacturers across the world's most populous nation.

Foreign firms have long grappled with working conditions in China,
dubbed the world's factory because of its low wages and efficient
coastal transport and shipping infrastructure.

Global protests against Apple swelled after reports spread in 2010 of a
string or suicides at Foxconn's plants in southern China, blamed on
inhumane working conditions and the alienation that migrant labourers,
often from impoverished provinces, face in a bustling metropolis like
Shenzhen, where two of the three factories the FLA inspected are located.

In months past, protesters have shown up at Apple events - the rollout
of the new iPad, the iPhone 4GS and its annual shareholders' meeting -
holding up placards urging the $500 billion corporation to make
"ethical" devices.

Some have also criticized the FLA for its close alignment with corporations.

The actor Mike Daisey also did much to raise awareness of the issue
through his one man show in the United States, "The Agony and the
Ecstasy of Steve Jobs". His credibility was damaged though when it
emerged parts of his monologue were fabricated.


The FLA in its report sought measures that will reduce working hours
while ensuring that migrant labourers - often willing to pile up the
overtime to make ends meet back home - do not forego much-needed income.

Foxconn committed to building new housing to ease situations where
multiple workers were squeezed into dorm rooms that seemed inhumane by
Western standards. It also agreed to improve accident reporting and help
workers enroll for social welfare.

The FLA will conduct onsite verification visits to make sure the
agreement is implemented, van Heerden said.

Apple is not the first U.S. consumer brand to respond to criticism of
working conditions at factories abroad making its products.

Nike Inc implemented wide-ranging changes to improve safety and working
conditions after it was rocked by reports in the 1990s that its
contractors in China and elsewhere forced employees to work in
slave-like conditions for a pittance.

Yet even Nike stopped short of Apple's and Foxconn's hiring and
income-boosting spree. Last month, Foxconn said it was raising salaries
by 16 to 25 percent, and was advertising a basic monthly wage, not
including overtime, of 1,800 yuan ($290) in the southern city of
Shenzhen, Guangdong province - where the monthly minimum wage is 1,500 yuan.

Future forays by the FLA over coming months will encompass Apple
contractors Quanta Computer Inc <2382.TW>, Pegatron Corp <4838.TW>,
Wintek Corp <2384.TW> and other suppliers, all notoriously tight-lipped
about their operations.

(Additional reporting by Sui-Lee Wee in Beijing, Tan Ee-lyn in Hong Kong
Editing by Gary Hill, Tim Dobbyn and Mark Bendeich)

(3) Apple pledge to share more of its revenue with Chinese workers


Apple pledge could lead to China wage hikes


A pledge by the manufacturer of Apple's iPhones and iPads to limit work
hours at its factories in China could force other global corporations to
hike pay for Chinese workers who produce the world's consumer
electronics, toys and other goods.

Foxconn Technology's promise comes as Beijing is pushing foreign
companies to share more of their revenues with Chinese employees. It
follows a report by a labor auditor hired by Apple Inc. that found
Foxconn was regularly violating legal limits on overtime, with factory
employees working more than 60 hours per week.

"I think whatever Foxconn did will have an impact, certainly, on all
Chinese workers in all trades," said Willy Lin, managing director of
Hong Kong-based Milo's Knitwear, which makes clothing in three factories
in China for European clients.

Foxconn, owned by Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., promised to
limit hours while keeping total pay the same, effectively paying more
per hour. Foxconn is one of China's biggest employers, with 1.2 million
workers who also assemble products for Microsoft Corp. and
Hewlett-Packard Co.

Japan's Toshiba Group, which employs 32,000 workers in China to make
goods such as refrigerators and TVs, said it too is taking measures to
reduce overtime work and create safe working conditions at its factories.

China has long been a low-cost manufacturing center for goods sold under
foreign brand names. But wages already were rising quickly as companies
compete for workers and communist leaders try to push the country up the
technology ladder to make more profitable products.

After a lull following the 2008 global crisis when Beijing froze the
minimum wage to help exporters compete, Chinese workers have received
big pay hikes over the past two years, though salaries still are low by
Western standards.

Foxconn responded to a spate of suicides by employees at one of its
mainland factory campuses in 2010 by more than doubling its basic
monthly salary to 1,800 yuan ($290). The same year, Toyota Motor Corp.
and other Japanese automakers granted pay hikes following a wave of
strikes that had tacit government support.

Communist leaders have promised to double the country's minimum wage
from 2010 levels by 2015.

The minimum wage in Shanghai, one of the world's most expensive cities,
is about 1,200 yuan ($200) a month after an increase of more than 10
percent last year. The northern city of Tianjin raised its minimum wage
to 1,070 yuan ($175).

Beijing has tightened enforcement of wage and hour rules "because there
has been a general lack of compliance -- greater than in other
countries," said K. Lesli Ligorner, head of the China employment group
for law firm Simmons & Simmons.

"China is trying to make sure that at least at the lowest level of
unskilled workers there are greater protections in place for them," she

Export-driven manufacturers along China's booming east coast also have
to pay more to get and keep workers as rising living standards in the
countryside mean fewer people migrate to cities for factory jobs.

U.S. and European clients might push Chinese suppliers to pay more so
they look better in front of consumers, Ligorner said.

Higher wages at Foxconn "will have a ripple effect," she said.

Pay and working and environmental conditions are a sensitive issue for
U.S. and European companies, some of which have been criticized by
activist groups. Companies such as Nike Inc. and The Walt Disney Co. set
specific standards in contracts with producers of toys, athletic shoes
and other goods sold under their brands and send auditors to enforce them.

"We mind our corporate social responsibility and demand that our
contract manufacturers strictly follow local as well as international
rules on labor and environmental protection," said Henry Wang, public
relations director for Taiwan's Acer Inc., the world's fourth-largest
personal manufacturer.

Acer's laptop computers are produced by contractors in Kunshan, west of
Shanghai, and in Chongqing in the southwest.

Wang said he didn't know whether the report on Foxconn by the Fair Labor
Association, an American industry group, would lead to changes at Acer.
He said suppliers already are required to "strictly follow" rules on
wages and working conditions.

Higher wages will be easier for manufacturers to absorb if labor is a
small portion of their total costs.

Research firm IHS iSuppli estimates that Apple pays $8 for the assembly
of a 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S and $188 for its components. iSuppli's
figures suggest that if Apple were to absorb a Foxconn wage increase to
keep pay level and cut the work week from 60 hours to 49, it would pay
less than $2 extra to have an iPhone made.

Other companies earn smaller profits and might find higher wages harder
to pass on.

Higher costs in China already have prompted some companies in
labor-intensive industries such as shoes and textiles to migrate to
Vietnam and other lower-wage economies.

Lin, the garment manufacturer, said his company employs about 1,500
people in Guangdong province near Hong Kong. He said entry level pay has
more than doubled over the past five years from 600 to 700 yuan
($95-$110) a month to about 1,500 yuan ($240).

"Anything lower than that, you wouldn't find the workers willing to do
it," he said. ------

AP Business Writers Kelvin Chan in Hong Kong and Elaine Kurtenbach in
Tokyo and Associated Press writers Annie Huang in Taipei, Taiwan and
Foster Klug in Seoul, South Korea contributed.

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