Working conditions at Foxconn way above average, workers too bored, though

Working conditions at Foxconn way above average, workers too bored, though
Chinese workers making iPhones and iPads have way better conditions than garment factories and the general average for China. That’s what the head of the Fair Labor Association (FLA) visiting the factories saw days after starting a visit of 8 major Apple suppliers in China.

Auret van Heerden, president of the FLA, shared his initial surprise about better than expected conditions at the Chinese factories, but warned that this is not a conclusion yet. He also warned that while working conditions per se are above average, it seems that there’s an underlying problem with montonous, boring work.

"I was very surprised when I walked onto the floor at Foxconn, how tranquil it is compared with a garment factory," Van Heerden said. "So the problems are not the intensity and burnout and pressure-cooker environment you have in a garment factory. It's more a function of monotony, of boredom, of alienation perhaps."

Apple has opened up for an inspection of its factories recently in an attempt to prove its words that it cares deeply about everyone of its workers. The company has responded to a report accusing it of negligence towards its overseas workers, which could have been the reason why we’ve been hearing reports about Foxconn employee suicides and shifts lasting more than 24 hours straight.

The FLA head noticed a lot of young people coming from rural areas to work at Foxconn, and after leaving their family many of them would seem emotionally crushed with the monotonous shifts. Van Heerden stressed that they also lacked emotional support.

As to the Fair Labor Association itself, it’s an independent body formed under President Bill Clinton in 1996 to minimize workers’ exploitation overseas. It’s trasnparent about its work and that’s what makes it tough - Apple’s suppliers could be visited without prior notification, and the reports of the FLA are public.

When it comes to Apple’s Chinese partners in particular, FLA will ask 35,000 employees to tell them about their working conditions under the condition of anonymity.

source: Reuters



1. andro.

Posts: 1999; Member since: Sep 16, 2011

Hmmm....someones been paid off here for their investigation report as i dont think anyone would consider a factory which has fence protection systems placed on its roof to prevent further mass sucides 'above average'. As always with apple theres nothing wrong here and who ever reported otherwise before was 'reporting the wrong way'

2. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Sounds like the new blankets and extra meals were passed out before the Geneva Convention guy got there.

3. XiphiasGladius

Posts: 813; Member since: Aug 21, 2011

I bet the word "MAGICAL" is applicable to that.

13. biophone

Posts: 1994; Member since: Jun 15, 2011

Lets wait until this report is finishe to critisize it.

18. JeffdaBeat unregistered

What I think is funny is if their initial findings were different, everyone would be preaching about how credible the reporting was. Foxconn was given notice that this was happening, but not weeks and weeks of notice. If their plant is a big as they say, there is no way they could get rid of all signs in such a small amount of time. Now, of course it could be argued that Apple tipped these guys off well before they made the announcement. But Foxconn is partners with a LOT of companies. Acer, Dell, HP, Intel, Samsung, Sony, Microsoft, and Nokia just to name a few. More companies have their reputations at stake other than Apple if Foxconn is as bad as they say. So, yes even your Android could have been made there. I definitely think the conditions aren't as great as they would be here. Same with the pay. But of course if they were, the jobs would be in the US. But that's a whole different argument that's been made since the days of Nike. Do I think Foxconn is better than most Chinese factors? Absolutely. Do I think there are human rights issues. Probably. But again, we would have to have a discussion of workers rights in China all together. We'd also have to be willing to pay more for all of our electronics/clothing/everything not made in America.

21. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

round and round we go. each factory is different, according to the clients specs. they are run pretty independantly of each other. it does not take too long to clean up when things stay clean to begin with. you only need to adjust a few things about the schedule an threaten people with jail time or termination if they speak ill about the company. this isnt america. workers have no rights there. the ONLY way to see what is going on is to go in completely by surprise, which will be very hard to do since these places are remote and locked down. Samsung makes their phones in house and offers things like sick time, higher (yet still bad) wages, and other things.. so no, my phone isnt made by foxconn. we could easily change our draconian tax laws to entice business back to america. it wouldnt cost that much more. why dont you just convince apple to back off its 70%+ profit margins instead? they dont have to maintain that. the next highest company is samsung at 30%+. You dont hear about too many mass suicides attempts at samsung plants. Samsung also has factories IN AMERICA. Amazing that you try to justify why apple cant do it, yet non american companies are coming here. I generally respect your opinion, but your so far off on this issue, its not funny.

27. dreammixer

Posts: 81; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

This post is so full of factual errors. Samsung has gotten in trouble plenty of times for poor working conditions. Apple does not have a 70% profit margin. This last quarter their profit margin was 40 some percent which was a record for them. There were no mass suicide attempts. The suicide rate at Foxconn is lower than the average for the US population. Seriously your level of hate for Apple is ridiculous. We get it you don't like them. Lying and posting half truths isn't productive.

28. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

maybe you should go fact check before you post. just sayin.

30. dreammixer

Posts: 81; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Although the number of suicides at the company is large in absolute terms, the suicide rate is still low compared to the rest of China.[13] A journalist from ZDNet even concluded that "working at Foxconn dramatically reduces people’s risk of suicide".[19]

32. dreammixer

Posts: 81; Member since: Feb 10, 2012 Q1 2012 Financials: $46.33 billion in revenue $13.06 billion net profit International sales accounted for 58% of quarters revenue Gross margins of 44.7% Apple is currently holding over $97,600,000,000 (yes, billion) in cash Note the 44.7% gross margins NOT 70%

34. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

why dont you just look at their iphone/ipad/ipod profit instead of their total company profit, which 44.7 is still massive.

35. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

iphone4s 16 gig. to make - $196, sold - $ 649 69.9% profit 32 gig to make - $ 215 sold - $749 profit - 72% 64 gig to make - 254 sold 849 profit 71% And that includes the whopping 8 dollars worth of labor and shipping per phone.$188-study-finds/

37. Paden

Posts: 262; Member since: Jul 07, 2011

Marketing, Design, Retail Stores, Customer Service, and on and on and on... There's more to cost than production and shipping.

38. dreammixer

Posts: 81; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Thank you Paden I was just about to say that. Remix do you realize that a company has market and support products, legal cost etc? Come one man you're clearly wrong here and obscenely exaggerating Apple's profits.

39. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

your absolutely right. design? its the exact same design the topic of my conversation was iphone profits, not total company profits. The bulk of the company's money comes from iphones. quit trying to muddy the conversation to make your point. That price also includes all labor costs for building it as well as shipping per unit.

40. dreammixer

Posts: 81; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

So developing iOS 5 cost Apple $0, retail stores are given to them for free and they pay zero on utilities etc? When a customer calls Apple for tech support that costs Apple nothing? Get it together man you're obviously wrong.

41. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

obviously not, since AGAIN, i am talking specifically about iphone's profit margin, not the entire company. everything u just said, comes off the total company, not the iphone... other than OS development. you keep trying to muddy the waters. BTW, apple spends a relatively small amount on R&D compared to other companies, especially when compared to MS and Samsung and probably Google.

42. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 2009

Just wanted to add to what remix and Paden was saying...I think your both right!  Remixes number for manufacturing are right as well as when Paden said it goes up when you consider customer service, retail stores and what not.   After adding in all those different missing factors, the iPhone cost $220 total from raw materials to a finished product in consumers hand.  Someone also said something about it costing sooo much more if it were made here in the US.  They were right as well, it would cost $240 to make here in the US.  These companies want us all to believe that manufacturing in the US is just impossible, it would cost too much, people would pay the extra markup, etc, etc...   Being a daily visitor to this site, I've seen every defense and excuse as to why Apple and others shouldn't be held accountable for what's happening in Foxconn.  But no one has offered ANY good reason why they shouldn't bring these jobs to America.  Apple has the money, power and apparently the reputation, to influence change more than any other company or government on the face of the Earth!  So why haven't they?  

44. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

exactly. what WEM said.

45. Paden

Posts: 262; Member since: Jul 07, 2011

All that is valid. However, its not just money. Its legislation and politics too.

46. dreammixer

Posts: 81; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

You have no clue how much any of these companies spend on R&D and all costs are factored into iPhone profits. iPhones are sold in retail stores, iPhone customers call tech support, iPhones are marketed. You think those iPhone commercial are given free to Apple by the networks? WEM he's right in the cost of what it takes to make an iPhone but totally wrong on the profit margin since he rules out all additional costs that come with running a business.

49. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 2009

No, that's all of it. It's all in there. The proof is in the $76 BILLION dollars worth of pudding they have just laying around. That's the actual cost per unit, and when doing a cost per unit analysts, everything is included from the shipping, electricity, marketing, employee salaries, all the way up to the CEO. That's all of it. We have to face facts here, their making this kind of money because we allow it. We got quit making excuses and start voting with our dollars. Sign some petitions, call congressmen, and do whatever it takes to make sure these guys realize if they won't help Americans...then we won't help them! Yeah, I know! A beautiful sentiment that will never actually grow legs. It's like someone high up at Apple said...all we REALLY care about is getting a new iPhone.

4. nastynaps

Posts: 93; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

When my mom tells me she's coming to visit I clean the apartment. No surprise here.

5. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

they need to come back in 6 months without a worldwide announcement. cue Gallito and his pro slave labor stance in 5...4....3...

6. paulyyd

Posts: 340; Member since: Jan 08, 2011

lol dude really? i like how in other articles you were all like "oh can't wait to see the report from the FLA blah blah", and bam look what happens. do all of us a favor and just stop

8. iamcc

Posts: 1319; Member since: Oct 07, 2011

You realize that the article mentions the working conditions are above average when compared to garment factories. "Dude there's nothing wrong with me having slaves, I feed them twice as much as the guy down the street."

16. Paden

Posts: 262; Member since: Jul 07, 2011

"...the guy down the street" is every single other US business who has manufacturing plants in China. I'm not saying its right or wrong, but our economy is based heavily on cheap Chinese manufacturing. If you believe that US businesses uprooted their manufacturing from the US to have the same factory overseas you must be extremely naive. Cheaper labor, less regulations, and its easier to implement change due to less political and legislative restraints. America has dug their own grave on this one. Don't blame companies. Blame consumers for demanding cheap products. Companies only provide products that match customers wants and needs.

23. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

it was apathy that allowed us to dig that grave, and its the same apathy that all you crazed ibots are displaying that allows it to continue. you ARE part of the problem.

25. Paden

Posts: 262; Member since: Jul 07, 2011

Remixfa - Most things, good or bad, related to Apple is sensationalized because websites, authors, magazines, newspapers get more views and attention because of it. Look at what happened a week ago. When Whitney Houston dies, Apple was ridiculed for jacking up the prices of her albums. However, Apple gives control of the pricing to the record labels themselves. It was later found out that Sony Music raised those prices. Websites will sensationalize any stupid little article that has the slightest thing to do with Apple. Hence, PhoneArena, hence The Verge, hence any thing tech.

26. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

was not aware of the price hike. thats normal when a star dies though. they did the same thing when jackson died. not an issue with me. thats supply and demand. the demand went up, so the price went up. what exactly does that have to do with apple-foxconn? they can "sensationalize" all they want, but the truth is still the truth. it doesnt change a single thing about the 17 suicides, exploding unventillated factories, mass suicide threats, or 36 hr work shifts. the ONLY thing that changes that is consumers refusing to buy the products until things change... which is why you and every one that continues to blindly defend apple are part of the problem.

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