Fair Labor Association Releases Apple Labor Investigation Report, Details ‘Serious Worker’ Issues

Posted on Mar 30 2012 - 4:03am by Editorial Staff

Just a few days ago Auret van Heerden, FLA head, had made an initial visit to the factories and stated, “The working conditions to be far better than most other facilities in the countries” – the visits on the initial request that Apple has made to the Fair Labor Association (FLA) will conduct special voluntary audits of Apple’s final assembly suppliers, including Foxconn factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu, China – after on which the Fair Labor Association group tasked with auditing a Foxconn Technology Group plant in Shenzhen, China has found a ‘ton of issues’ that need fixing.

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). 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.

The major key points in the report:

  • 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.
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