Report Details Continuing Foxconn Abuse

Foxconn, the company that builds both the iPhone and the iPad, came under fire last year after a string of suicides led to an investigation of the company's conditions. Both Apple and Foxconn promised to make certain that reforms were enacted to improve working conditions. A new report, released today, is the first detailed investigation on how things have changed at the company. Improvements, thus far, have been sporadic at the least.

Foxconn's Chengdu facility. Additional production space under construction.

The SACOM report indicates that while things at Foxconn have improved to a degree, wages are widely miscalculated with the difference either unpaid or not paid for months. Overtime Work hours, which were supposed to decrease from 80 to 36 hours of overtime a month and be strictly voluntary, have continued at the 80-100hr level. One worker, Chen Linfeng, explained how the new 'voluntary' system works. If he asks to leave the shift floor after a ten-hour shift, he'll only be allowed to work the standard shift for at least a month. "If there is no overtime at all, I will only receive the basic salary. hence, I have no choice." Workers who ask to leave the floor at the end of their shifts are also accused of causing work stoppages.

Shift lengths are also abusive. A significant number of workers often have to work back-to-back ten-hour shifts with just two 30 minute breaks total. Because some of the manufacturing equipment runs 24 hours a day, there are groups of employees who aren't allowed to leave the shift floor—even when on break. An anonymous worker told the group: "If some colleagues go out for dinner, then the workers who stay in the workshop have to take care of three machines at the same time. It is hard work, but we do not have additional subsidy for that. Workers can only have dinner after the shift ends. Continuous shift occurs every day." Other evidence indicates continuous shift workers are forced to go up to seven hours without meal breaks.

Ultimately, there are misrepresentations and oversights built into nearly every part of Foxconn, from the hiring process to the factory floor. Advertised wages are significantly higher than what actual employees earn, employees are required to put in an extra hour of unpaid time a day (separate from overtime), and workdays are grueling. At Chengdu, workers are up by 6:45 AM and don't arrive home until 9 PM. In at least some cases, the company maintains a 6-7 day work week. The difference between regular work days and weekend work days is that on the weekends, employees are 'only' required to work ten hours a day.

They only look exhausted because they're so happy.

Even basic safety equipment (think kitchen gloves or the simplest filter masks) is sporadically provided or, in some cases, difficult to obtain. Workers in the polishing department, for example, have gloves—but no filtration masks to prevent them from breathing the aluminum dust created by their own work. In other cases, workers aren't issued gloves because it increases the chance they'll drop a product in production.

SACOM notes that wage levels and certain other metrics have improved in the past year, but concludes: "It is hypocritical that Foxconn hires a number of counselors, opens up care centres, and launches hotline services for workers after the spate of suicides, but imposes harsh management on workers at the same time. Workers are not allowed to talk on the production line and... feel they resemble machines."

if the SACOM report is accurate, Foxconn is still operating the 21st century equivalent of a 19th century sweatshop. The fact that other nations went through similar periods doesn't excuse Foxconn's behavior now any more than it excused US Steel's behavior in 1892. Hopefully Apple will conduct its own follow-up and take appropriate action.
Via:  Sacom
3vi1 3 years ago

This gives me a great new idea for privatizing the American prison system such that we reduce our dependency on Asian electronics, make criminals really reconsider their life choices, and it pays for itself.

CKaye 3 years ago

omg. please don't tell me my iPad came from this hell hole. what can we as consumers do to help?

fat78 3 years ago

Find a way to get companies to start producing in U.S.A. (good luck with that)

Pretty much all electronic components are made in Asia and the companies that are in us only assemble them here, so if you want to buy us made it is going to be rather difficult.

3vi1 3 years ago

>> Find a way to get companies to start producing in U.S.A. (good luck with that)

I thought I just did. :\

Super Dave 3 years ago

I'm thankful I wasn't born in China. It's sad to see workers abused this way, and it makes me angry that this kind of slave-labor undermines our economy. I haven't seen a Foxconn article here in a while, so I'm glad for the update. Thanks, Joel.

BMAN 3 years ago

It would be interesting if we could find out if other manufacturing sites for components (e.g. motherboard manufacturers-ASUS, MSI, EVGA, etc.) work their employees the same way as Foxconn does, would make me think twice about who I support for my next build.

AKwyn 3 years ago

[quote user="BMAN"]It would be interesting if we could find out if other manufacturing sites for components (e.g. motherboard manufacturers-ASUS, MSI, EVGA, etc.) work their employees the same way as Foxconn does, would make me think twice about who I support for my next build.[/quote]

Wouldn't matter, as long as people keep buying these motherboards/graphics cards/iPhones then the abuse will just continue, Foxconn will just make some minor concessions that will satisfy the public but will still force people to this kind of abuse.

And even if there was a nationwide protest to bring production back to the US and away from China, I doubt it would work. These companies care more about the overall profit margin than anything else (unless it hits them really, really hard.).

BMAN 3 years ago

Perhaps it wouldn't matter...

But it would definitely make me feel a little better knowing I was dealing with a company that treats their employees better than sweatshop


omegadraco 3 years ago

This is the kind of crap that Apple supports... This is totally inhumane treatment. It would be interesting to see the markup on the iPad and iPhone for Apple from Foxconn and then what Apple marks it up to the consumer.

joel h 3 years ago


First off, such actions do at least help, a little. Nike is a well-known example of a company that was forced to redress the plight of its Asian factories after widespread reports led to threats of a boycott. How much things *really* improved, of course, isn't something we know--but the company did perform at least a certain degree of due diligence.

Apple took action when the number of suicides at Foxconn led it to fear the iPad brand was being tarnished. The only thing anyone can do is make different purchase decisions possibly based on where other companies do their building. I can't tell you offhand where Motorola, Samsung, or HTC products are built--nor am I suggesting that these devices would be ones you'd want to replace your iPad. It's still the best place to start. My only further note would be that companies typically respond to concerns *before* they start hitting purchasing. There are always exceptions--but in general squeaky wheels get greased before they lead to failures.

3vi1 3 years ago

I think you were replying to someone else. Unusually, I did not have the slightest bit of disagreement with anything you said. :D

HHGrrl 3 years ago

This just makes me sick. I hope stories like this get enough publicity that Apple and other companies force Foxconn into making some REAL improvements.

eunoia 3 years ago


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