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Fair Labor Association releases Apple labor investigation report, details serious worker issues at Foxconn factories

Fair Labor Association releases Apple labor investigation report, details serious worker issues at Foxconn factories


The Fair Labor Association released its audit of the Apple production lines at Foxconn's factories in China.

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The Fair Labor association has just released its anticipated report on its investigation of Apple's labor conditions at the Foxconn factories in China. The FLA is an independent organization that Apple voluntarily asked to audit its factories after its working conditions came under question and harsh criticism in January, most notably by the now infamous and falsified Mike Daisey episode of This American Life.

The FLA reports that it interviewed 35,000 workers at Foxconn factories in Guanlan, Longhua, and Chengdu. The largest of these, the Guanlan factory, employs 73,000 workers. Of the 35,000 people interviewed, the FLA reports that only 4 percent of them were under the age of 18 (16 is the legal working age in China).

We've broken out some of the relevant findings below.

  • Average hours worked per week was found to be fifty-six (the legal limit is forty-nine hours a week including overtime).
  • Half of the workers reported that they had worked eleven or more days in a row.
  • Thirty-three percent of the workers said that they wanted to work more hours, and feared that further restrictions would lead to lower pay.
  • While the factory workers make more than the minimun wage in China, sixty-four percent said that their pay was not enough to "cover basic needs."
  • Minimum wage in Shenzhen is 1,500RMB per month (about $220), and the starting salary at Foxconn is 1,800RMB or $265. After a probation period the salary is raised to 2200RMB or $325 per month.
  • Average reported salaries at each factory were: Chengdu, 2257RMB, Longhua, 2687RMB, and Guanlan, 2872RMB.
  • Unions do exist at Foxconn, but the FLA found that membership is primarily at the managerial level, with many production line workers reporting they didn't know unions existed.
  • One of the FLA's main complaints is that Foxconn pays overtime in sections of 30 minutes, meaning that if a worker completed 25 minutes of overtime, Foxconn paid them no overtime, and got that piece of labor for free.
  • The FLA requests that the routine (and legal) practice of posting the names of workers facing disciplinary action on the company website and notice boards in the Guanlan factory cease immediately.
  • "Young workers (16 to 17 years of age) were found working at hazardous areas, such as CNC section or in some positions that could possibly put them at risk from chemicals or expose them to physical risk factors such as aluminum dust, noise, thermal conditions and vibration."
  • Resigning from a job at Foxconn is "extremely difficult," so many workers simply stop showing up, thus giving up their outstanding wages.

The FLA has secured a commitment from both Apple and Foxconn to change their practices by 2013 to be in compliance with both Chinese law and the FLA's standards. You can read the full details of that statement here.