back to article Foxconn fires back at abuse allegations

Foxconn, the Taiwan-headquartered manufacturer of products for Apple, Sony, HP and a host of others, "strongly and categorically rejects" recent — and not-so-recent — accusations of worker mistreatment. The company's arguments, however, may be motivated by more than a pure desire to set the record straight. "Foxconn is …


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  1. Neoc

    Interesting wording:

    "Noting that guidelines set by the global Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) call for no more than a total of 60 hours per week including overtime, Foxconn reports that average monthly overtime "for employees volunteering for such work" was 57.3 hours for June, 58.5 hours for July, 59.7 hours for August, and 63.1 hours for September."

    Interesting weasel-wording in Foxconn's response. Let me strip out the extra words here:

    EICC --> standard + overtime <= 60hrs

    Foxconn --> overtime = 57 to 63hrs

    So, basically, according to Foxconn its staff are doing IN OVERTIME ALONE about as much work that the EICC says should be done IN TOTAL.

    1. Havin_it

      Er, no.

      "So, basically, according to Foxconn its staff are doing IN OVERTIME ALONE about as much work that the EICC says should be done IN TOTAL."

      Read your own post back to yourself and identify the flaw. The EICC figure is weekly, the Foxconn ones are monthly. Therefore they are claiming an average of just under 15hrs overtime per week.

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      The statement about overtime is poorly worded.

      I don't think this would be the place for deliberately misstating and comparing overtime-only hours to guideline total hours, so in fact they must be saying that employee overtime usually is within the guideline figure.

      Anyway, overtime is paid extra, and with too much overtime and tiredness, the quality of work deteriorates, so it doesn't pay off to make people work too many extra hours. The benefit of doing it at all is that you can temporarily increase and then decrease output without increasing headcount, which has a cost even in China.

  2. Peter W.

    RE: Interesting Wording

    Neoc, you really need to RTFA....

    EICC call for no more than 60 hours PER WEEK including Overtime

    Foxconn reports that AVERAGE MONTHLY OVERTIME was 57.3, 59.7 and 63.1 hours.

    These translate to <16 hours Overtime PER WEEK, or less than 56 hours total work PER WEEK.

    1. Anton Ivanov
      Jobs Horns

      Who told you that their working week is 40 hours?

      Assuming 8h shifts you are looking at a 48h week most likely. Sat is a working day in most developing economies. This puts it at way over 60h.

    2. Neoc

      RE: Interesting Wording

      D'oh! Didn't notice. orz

  3. Neal 5

    Why look at the Chinese Gov.

    Doen't the problem lie with HP, Apple, Nokia etc, who use Foxconn for their products. In fact didn't a recent missive from Apple say that Foxconn was just perfect?

    I seem to remember that Nike got major flack for the use of "sweatshops" for it's products and a global boycott threat against it's brand. Funny how americans react when it's something really important, like where am I going to get another dirt cheap useless gadget from now.

    1. Rob Dobs

      Yes but it lies with all the smug evil ipod jerks too

      And dell laptops, hp printers, etc.

      I'm ashamed to admit that I do own at least some of these products (at least one hp printer).

      I will certainly look hard for IT companies that manufacture outside of China.

      Their illegal tactics, hacking etc have made them in my mind enemies of the US/UK I don't want to support their ethics, tactics, or approach to dealing with the rest of the world.

      If it says made in China I put it back

      Sure I have to get things now in then, because everything on the shelf, in every store in town may only have the option of one chinese brand or another... but for the most part if you look just a bit their is a Korean, Japanese, or hell even India is headed in a better direction at least. and not openly our enemy.

      Someone started spouting that old tired BS about how "oh it wont matter if I boycott apple", no probably not much, but in this day and age when information is easily accessible, most informed people don't have the valid excuse to support them. A company like Apple is basically taking human life in exchange for a better profit margin. Hell even the old "evil" business owners of the coal mines, and railroads took cheap safety options where they could. Apples actions are wicked and shady, and they deserve to be shunned for it.

      Believe me when sales dip even 5%-10% Steve-o and crew will take notice, and at the very least take surface actions, (and low hanging fruit) at going in the other direction (co-operation and mutual benefit with employer and employee, instead of slavemaster and slave.)

      Simple truth if you keep buying Ipod crap you are supporting this environment.

      You have to live it if you just cant do without those cheesy white earbuds.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Close but no cigar

        If you take it off the shelf and put it back you usually do not hurt them that much. Sooner or later you will cave in and buy it.

        If you take it off the shelf, put it back and go back and repair the one you have you definitely do.

        Let's be real. You do not need an 8 core CPU to browse the register. A vintage Mac mini PPC circa 2003 or a vintage P4 from around 2004 will do nicely. All they need is a fan, a disk, some more memory and a decent (not Foxconn) power supply now and then. Most of these things are manufactured in Malaysia and Korea till this day.

        Same for other gadgets. Same for clothes. It does not take that much effort to patch most things instead of throwing them out.

        1. yeehaw....


          Yes, I *do* need an 8 core cpu to browse the register..... I like it when the BIOS takes longer than the actual booting of the OS....... lol

      2. Anonymous Coward

        I wish you well with that

        The way manufacturing works in the world today no one product is made in one place. The parts are manufactured all over the world and shipped where it's most cost effective to put that particular component together.

        Take a stupid example like biros. The ink may be made in Malaysia, the oil for plastics pulled from the Gulf of Mexico, shipped to Brazil to make platsic tubes, the little metal balls in the nibs made in Taiwan, all the bits are loaded into containers on ships and sent to China, India or wherever to be assembled. Finally the cardboard boxes might be printed in Poland and the biros, now made up, may be shipped to Hungary, the boxes arrive in Hungary and finally the biros, now in boxes, are shipped out worldwide.

        That's a very stupid example I know, but imagine something more complex like a car or a desktop PC, the scale of mass transport of component parts if absolutely enormous, rarely are products made and assembled in one place these days.

        I wish you well with you quest to stay on the good side, but given the complex nature of even simple product production, it's fight I fear you may lose.

  4. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Down


    Does anyone here remember overtime?

    It must be 15 years or more since I was PAID for working extra hours...

    Ahhh, those were the days.

    1. The Jase


      More the fool you then.

      If you act like a company's bitch, they will treat you like one.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: fool

        Actually, in lots of contracts in what idiot politicians call "the knowledge economy", it usually says stuff like "from time to time, Employee is required to work unremunerated overtime for which Employee will receive time off at the discretion of the company". So, I know people who did considerable amounts of overtime and theoretically had considerable amounts of owed leave, although the first thing companies do when they lay people off is to zero out such leave in the termination package.

        The original comment still stands, but with a twist: if in the admittedly decadent corporate West, people are pushed to do overtime, what chance is it that people can say no in the draconian corporate East?

        1. The Jase

          time to time

          "from time to time, Employee is required to work unremunerated overtime for which Employee will receive time off at the discretion of the company".

          From time to time is just that. Hell, I do free overtime from time to time (things blow up at the wrong time sometimes).

          If its anything regular, you are just being a bitch covering for bad management (either not enough employees or piss poor organisation).

          Get up stand up, stand up for your rights.

  5. D. Suse
    Jobs Horns

    There is no problem here...

    Steve Jobs says everything is hunky-dory at Foxconn. Those workers who kill themselves are really "not important", as the total numbers of lost lives are "below average". Besides, the idea of cutting off their life-insurance benefits is sure to help.

    And of course, nothing is as important as even one of Steve's "magical, super-fantastical" iphones or ipads...according to Steve.

    But, if you find yourself looking at Apple products, thinking of the workers who may have perished immediately after making the shiny Apple-toy you are looking at might make you want to keep on walking.

  6. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Two sides

    I suspect the truth is somewhere between what Foxconn & the reporters are saying. Unfortunately, we'll probably never learn the truth. It'll be hard for Foxconn to disprove all the allegations.

    In a company the size of Foxconn, I'd be surprised if there weren't some "dodgy" management.

  7. Tempest

    Chinese factories are REALLY different

    I have visited Chinese factories on many occasions, they are very proud of them, and in different industries and they are like unlike Westen factories.

    Often a Chinese factory employs thousands of people in aircraft hangar like buildings. Because of the masses of employees, shift changes have to be organised. Workers form up in squads outside the entrance whilst workers completing their shifts do the same.

    Then then inside workers march out of the exits, and when clear the next shift marches in. Lunches are usually eaten at the workbench and toilet breaks are taken at facilities dotted along production lines.

    Foxconn factories are less accessible, for security and cleanliness, but they too are run on similar lines.

    Company accommodation only allows for employees, segregated by sex, and no families - who often remain at home in the countryside. Whilst the accommodation is reasonable, it definitely brings back memories of military 'spider' dormitories with centralised toilet/bathing facilities - all these often located on floors above the factory workshops.

    Employment has it's costs, but in China these effects on family life are extreme.

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      China (& Malaysia)

      Tempest, I agree with you on most things, but the people I spoke to said that people would come in from the countryside and work for maybe 5 years, spending nothing, and then move back to their village with enough money to buy the land so that the family is then totally self-sufficient. So yes, the family is broken up a bit during the working time, but is then much better off afterwards.

      I think that the Chinese factories get a bad rep. The Chinese do clamp down on illegal working, wages below the minimum and health & safety violations (Ask Panasonic who were forced to permanantly shut one of their battery plants because of cadmium poisoning. Also the minimum wage in Shenzen increased quite a bit a few years ago. From what I've seen working conditions are no worse than in some western factories.

      I also worked with someone who used to work for Foxconn, before working for my last (Bristish) employer with a manufacturing base in Malaysia. Foxconn was a better employer, who actually paid overtime, and it was not forced, unlike the British company. Also most of the employees in Malaysia were from the Philipines and were given something like 2 year work permits. If there was any trouble with them at all (complaints about working conditions, strikes, etc.), they lost their work visa and could not re-apply for a time period. There were no minimum working conditions, because they were not Malaysians.

      1. Tempest
        Thumb Down

        @ Bristol Bachelor

        Workers in city factories who come from the country only get home twice a year; no seeing the spouse and the children each evening. These villages can be reasonable down to grass sod homes with sacking for window glass and no running water or electricity (the ones I saw were in YunNan).

        I agree Foxconn are definitely not the worst BUT they are the link between China and the Western consumer. It is ONLY because of the more lax regulations that govern Chinese manufacturing that the likes of HP, Apple, etc are able to produce their electronic gadgets at acceptable prices in the West.

        In my opinion, chemical use and manufacturing techniques and safety should be required to be the same as in the West, for it is the differential in standards that enables the Western marketing companies to make a profit. If the work was done in the West they would require all sort of fresh air feeds and exhaust filtering. It is morally wrong to exploit these differentials, measured in injured/killed workers, to produce what are essential fancy trinkets.

        China has increasingly allowed strikes to occur as a way to increase worker remuneration, offsetting public unrest with respect to rising costs of living in China, which costs Bei Jing nothing. The pressure for product is what drives the pay increases.

        Foxconn has started distributing it's factories further afield in China as a way to reduce the waves of internal immigrating which concerns the Chinese government. Countryside residents still, officially, require permits to change places of residence.

        You will see enforcement of these permits at major rail and bus transportation hubs where officials (uniformed or plain clothed) swipe ID cards in hand-held radio terminals and can read off all matter of information pertaining to the interviewee.

        The other side of this manufacturing conundrum is the masses of people unemployed in the West watching these trinkets being imported, duty free, into their traditional markets.

  8. Clyde

    that's a big one

    Nearly a million employees in the one firm, hell's bells.

  9. Gordon Pryra

    To be honest

    If the UK had companies with a million people employed in manual labour supplying goods to the West, then you would see security walking round with truncheon's.

    We ALREADY forget all about human rights when it suits us, or when the Americans tell us too. We would act no differently to the Chinese (our uniforms would probably be better though)

  10. Ben 81


    the conspiracy theorists may well be tempted to think the the government owned Huawei are looking to increase their standing ...

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