August 22, 2012
Fair Labor Association Says Foxconn Good, But Still Needs Work
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe OnlineAccording to Reuters, the Fair Labor Association (FLA) says Foxconn has, in fact, improved their working conditions in their Chinese plants, but the advocacy group would still like to see some more cuts in overtime hours.
Foxconn has long been scrutinized by advocacy groups and journalists alike after reports began to surface about dangerous working conditions, explosions at the plants, cramped living quarters and even a rash of employee suicides.
On Tuesday, the FLA said local laws require Foxconn to reduce the number of hours worked by employees by nearly a third by 2013. This move would affect the hundreds of thousands of Chinese workers who often move to the plants in order to send money back to their families living in rural areas.
On Wednesday, Foxconn said they would continue to cut overtime hours to less than 9 a week. Currently, employees wishing to work overtime are asked to work up to 20 extra hours a week. Though Foxconn has said they´ll make these changes, they also mentioned making these changes could increase the cost of production as well as make it difficult to attract those workers who want to work as much overtime as they can to send more money back home to their struggling families.
“It is a challenge. When we reduce overtime it means we need to hire more people and implement more automation, more investment on robotic engineering,” said Louis Woo, a special assistant to Terry Gou, Foxconn´s CEO.
“More workers also mean more dormitories and recreational facilities; it takes time.” Though difficult, Woo also said there could be some positives from making these changes.
In an interview to Reuters, Woo also said, “But I expect more loyalty from workers as a result, and then we can save more costs on recruitment and retainment.”
“Yield rates will also improve. Efficiency in terms of productivity, yield gain, retention and lower turnover rates should be able to improve next year.”
The FLA found multiple violations at the Foxconn factories earlier this year, which spurred one of the largest investigations of an American company´s plants outside of the States. To their credit, Apple is a full member of the FLA and is cooperating with and helping to implement these changes.
Apple isn´t the only company whose products are built in these factories, of course. Other computer and tech companies, such as Dell, HP, Nintendo and Sony have contracts signed with Foxconn. As Apple is now the world´s most valuable company, they´ve been asked by many advocacy groups to lead by example and implement these changes in their plants.
Woo told Reuters his company not only wants to “do the right thing” for their millions of employees, but they also want to be an example for any other large operation assembly plants.
Elsewhere in the FLA´s report, the group has said changes which were agreed upon have been made and, furthermore, Apple is cooperating with these changes.
Meanwhile, the FLA continues to monitor the situation, speaking with workers and watching microblogs such as Weibo.com (Similar to Twitter.com) to better understand how these employees are reacting to these changes and if any further changes need to be made.