Archive for 8.5.5 Electronics-Computers-Mobile Phones and Batteries

Incomplete List of Labor Unrest at Foxconn 2010-2013

8 Energy Intensive Industries, 8.5.5 Electronics-Computers-Mobile Phones and Batteries

The Labor Question in China: Apple and Beyond

This essay, by Ralph Litzinger,  introduces recent efforts by activists, NGOs, and academics to investigate and report on the working conditions for Chinese workers along Apple’s supply chain in China. Tracking the “suicide express” at the Foxconn factory complex in Shenzhen in 2010, the work of the Hong Kong–based activist labor organization Students and Scholars against Corporate Misbehavior, a coalition of environmental organizations headquartered in Beijing, and reporting by journalists, the essay shows how Apple was forced to go public about the myriad environmental, health, and labor problems in its outsourced factories. This essay also reflects on the theatrical activism and controversy surrounding Mike Daisey’s “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.” Finally, highlighting the arguments of the three contributions to this section, it shows how China’s new generation of workers is increasingly educated and gives voice to a range of desires and perspectives about the Chinese state, its relationship to global capital, and the ways of life, living, and labor for workers in the electronics industry.

8 Energy Intensive Industries, 8.5.5 Electronics-Computers-Mobile Phones and Batteries

Sweatshops are Good for Apple and Foxconn, but Not for Workers

“What’s wrong with sweatshops?” sums up the attitude of Terry Gou Taiming, the Foxconn CEO. In April 2012, when Foxconn organised a trip to Taiwan for selected Mainland workers, Gou explained his views to the Taiwan media, saying “There’s nothing wrong with working hard, with blood and sweat, as long as no laws are broken.” Most of the workers are angry with Terry Gou’s statement. “Of course sweatshops are good for Terry Gou, but not us. Without our blood and sweat, how could Foxconn grow rapidly?” Lin Yong, a male worker from Guanlan campus retorted. From March to May 2012, SACOM revisited the Foxconn’s production sites in Zhengzhou of Henan province in inland China and Shenzhen where most of the interviewees work on Apple production lines. The research shows labour rights violations remain the norm in the factories.

8 Energy Intensive Industries, 8.5.5 Electronics-Computers-Mobile Phones and Batteries

iSlave behind the iPhone: Foxconn Workers in Central China

In May 2011, Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) released a report, titled Foxconn and Apple Fail to Fulfill Promises: Predicaments of Workers after the Suicides, which documented the labour rights conditions at the Foxconn plant in Chengdu, China, a supplier of the iPad. Workers frequently endure excessive and forced overtime in order to gain a higher wage. If they cannot reach the production target, they have to skip dinner or work on unpaid overtime shifts. Even worse, they are threatened by potential harm from occupational diseases in various departments. Additionally, military-style management practices are still in place, characterized by “military training” for new workers. A month later, SACOM released its report, a short video clip, the Truth of the Apple iPad Behind Foxconn’s Lies, was launched to reveal the poor working conditions at the Foxconn factory in Chengdu. Four months on, SACOM has not heard any response from Apple. Likewise, after the explosion at Foxconn’s plant in Chengdu, which caused 3 deaths and 15 injuries, neither Apple nor Foxocnn has given any public account of the cause of the explosion. Furthermore, there is no transparency in either company’s process of implementing remedies after the tragedy. To keep up the pressure on Apple and Foxconn, SACOM has investigated another Apple supplier, Futaihua Precision Electronics (Zhengzhou) Company, the Foxconn’s subsidiary in Zhengzhou, which produces iPhones. Regrettably, the findings are equally as bad as those found in Chengdu.

8 Energy Intensive Industries, 8.5.5 Electronics-Computers-Mobile Phones and Batteries

Foxconn and Apple Fail to Fulfill Promises: Predicaments of Workers after the Suicides

The series of suicides at Foxconn in the first five months of 2010 seemed to have accelerated its relocation across all parts of China. One year on, the inland provincial governments compete with each other for Foxconn’s investment by offering concessions to the company. In the first round of competition, Zhengzhou of Henan Province has won the project among various interested cities, followed by Chengdu of Sichuan Province after rounds of negotiations. With strong governmental support, the workforce in Foxconn has grown to 1 million, a predominant majority of its workforce is young peasant-workers from the countryside. At recruitment talks, Foxconn paints a whole new rosy picture: high wages and good prospect. It looks like Foxconn might have reflected deeply upon its military management and low-cost production strategy, which had driven workers to despair. A number of Foxconn’s customers, notably Apple, HP and Dell, have also pledged to “work with Foxconn” to live up to higher international labour standards. A big question is how this hidden electronics supply chain really works. SACOM is interested to track the working conditions of the new Foxconn production sites to ascertain the workplace improvement in place, if any. While Foxconn is moving to the inner part of China, Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) is interested to track the working conditions of the new Foxconn production sites. In this spring, SACOM researchers visited two Foxconn production facilities in Chengdu and Chongqing municipality in Western China, where they are manufacturing Apple iPad 2 and HP laptops. We also revisited Foxconn’s flagship plants in two industrial towns, Longhua and Guanlan in the Shenzhen, where employees are still housed in dormitories surrounding with anti-suicide nets.

8 Energy Intensive Industries, 8.5.5 Electronics-Computers-Mobile Phones and Batteries

makeITfair: Important Improvements at Chinese Electronic Factories but Pressing Issues Remain

Significant improvements, such as higher wages, decreased number of student interns and discontinuance of Hepatitis B tests on job applicants have taken place after makeITfair published a report in 2009 about poor working conditions at four Chinese supplier factories of game consoles and MP3 players. The four factories (supplying to Apple, Microsoft, Motorola, Philips and Sony) have been recently re-examined by makeITfair. Some important issues remain however: the wage increases are still insufficient:; overtime remains significantly high; and lack of awareness of trade unions prevails.

8 Energy Intensive Industries, 8.5.5 Electronics-Computers-Mobile Phones and Batteries

Workers as Machines: Military Management in Foxconn

Foxconn Technology Group, a subsidy of the Hon Hai Precision Industries Ltd., is the world’s leading electronics manufacturer. It ranks 112th among Global Fortune 500 Companies. Currently, Foxconn has a workforce of 900,000 workers all over China. The corporation is going to expand the workforce to 1.3 million people by the end of 2011. According to market research firm iSuppli Corp., in 2009, Foxconn took over 44% of the global revenue of the entire electronics manufacturing and services industry. iSuppli estimates that Foxconn will gain half of the industry revenue by 2011. Notwithstanding the fall of profit margins over the years, Foxconn’s business has been growing. This implies that Foxconn will keep pressing down labour cost to maintain its competitiveness in the industry. There is a close relationship between low wage, excessive overtime work and harsh management. Other than Foxconn, electronic brands like Apple, Nokia, HP, Dell, Sony, Sony Ericsson, and Motorola, which have placed orders with Foxconn, also bear indispensable responsibility in the tragedies. All these brands are making huge profit at the cost of the workers. Likewise, we are consuming the blood and tears of the workers, a fact hidden from us by fancy advertisements.  This report aims to reveal the actual working and living conditions of workers at Foxconn to mobilise public support for their struggle against their plight. Instead of ineffectively pleading corporations to restrain themselves against labour rights violations, SACOM urges concerned organizations, consumers, investors, and the government to join the workers to pressure electronic factories to deliver decent working conditions in the electronic industry.

8 Energy Intensive Industries, 8.5.5 Electronics-Computers-Mobile Phones and Batteries

Suicide as Protest for the New Generation of Chinese Migrant Workers: Foxconn, Global Capital, and the State

A startling 13 young workers attempted or committed suicide at the two Foxconn production facilities in southern China between January and May 2010. We can interpret their acts as protest against a global labor regime that is widely practiced in China. Their defiant deaths demand that society reflect upon the costs of a state-promoted development model that sacrifices dignity for corporate profit in the name of economic growth. Chinese migrant labor conditions as articulated by the state, are shaped by these intertwined forces: First, leading international brands have adopted unethical purchasing practices, resulting in substandard conditions in their global electronics supply chains. Second, management has used abusive and illegal methods to raise worker efficiency, generating widespread grievances and resistance at the workplace level. Third, local Chinese officials in collusion with enterprise management, systematically neglect workers’ rights, resulting in widespread misery and deepened social inequalities. The Foxconn human tragedy raises profound concerns about the working lives of the new generation of Chinese migrant workers. It also challenges the state-driven policy based on the use of internal rural migrant workers, whose labor and citizenship rights have been violated.

8 Energy Intensive Industries, 8.5.5 Electronics-Computers-Mobile Phones and Batteries

Report: Apple Owes Workers and Public a Response over the Poisonings

A strike of 2000 workers has unveiled massive poisoning cases at United Win, a subsidiary of Wintek Corporation and an Apple Computers contractor in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province. While cancellation of an annual bonus was a primary reason for the strike, workers have explained that they also protested over the poisonings. In the aftermath of the strike, workers were able to receive the annual bonus, but the health concern remains. Since the middle of 2009, rumours had circulated around the factory that workers were being poisoned at United Win. Just one day after the strike, which erupted on January 15, 2010, the Suzhou Municipal Administration of Work Safety confirmed in a press conference that 47 workers from United Win had symptoms of hexane poisoning. The authorities also stated that all the workers concerned were hospitalized. From various media reports, the hexane-poisoned workers were all from Apple’s production line. N-hexane was used to clean the touch screen of i-Phones. The Apple Supplier Code of Conduct specifies that “suppliers must identify, evaluate, and control worker exposure to hazardous chemical, biological, and physical agents.” Apparently, Apple has responsibility for the poisoning case as it failed to implement its code of conduct. It is disappointing that Apple has given no response to the public on this issue. In order to have a better understanding of the situation, SACOM conducted an investigation at United Win in March. Around 20 workers were interviewed, including some who are receiving treatment in hospital.

8 Energy Intensive Industries, 8.5.5 Electronics-Computers-Mobile Phones and Batteries

The Dark Side of Cyberspace

A new study reveals violations of workers’ rights by suppliers to Dell, Fujitsu Siemens Computers and Lenovo. The non-governmental organisations WEED (World Economy, Ecology, and Development – Berlin) and SACOM (Students and Scholars against Corporate Misbehaviour – Hong Kong) are today publishing the study “The Dark Side of Cyberspace – Inside the Sweatshops of China’s Hardware Production”. The study is based on 45 interviews conducted with employees of two suppliers of well-known computer companies. It paints an alarming picture of the working conditions in this industry. The non-governmental organisations WEED (World Economy, Ecology, and Development – Berlin) and SACOM (Students and Scholars against Corporate Misbehaviour – Hong Kong) are today publishing the study “The Dark Side of Cyberspace – Inside the Sweatshops of China’s Hardware Production”. The study is based on 45 interviews conducted with employees of two suppliers of well-known computer companies. It paints an alarming picture of the working conditions in this industry. In the cases of the investigated suppliers Compeq Technology (supplier of Dell, Lenovo, a.o.) and Excelsior Electronics (supplier of Fujitsu Siemens Computers, a.o.) there are massive violations of the national labour law, the Conventions of the International Labour Organisation, and the brand companies’ own codes of conduct. Before today’s publication, the brand companies were given the chance to react to the reproaches made by the study. Not one of the brand companies has so far announced concrete measures for the improvement of the working conditions”.WEED and SACOM demand from the brand companies that they assume responsibility for their supply chains.

8 Energy Intensive Industries, 8.5.5 Electronics-Computers-Mobile Phones and Batteries