New Report: "Serious and Pressing" Working Conditions in China's Foxconn Factories

The Fair Labor Act, a non-profit group commissioned by Apple, investigated three Foxconn factories and has reported a long list of workers' grievances in “serious and pressing” violations of Chinese labor laws. 

The FLA conducted hundreds of interviews with workers and managers of China’s largest employer, exposing grievous working conditions in their 13-page report.

Violations include:

Overtime pay policies results in unpaid hours.  The FLA writes:

The assessors discovered that unscheduled overtime was only paid in 30-minute increments. This means, for example, that 29 minutes of overtime work results in no pay and 58 minutes results in only one unit of overtime pay.

Pay meets Chinese minimum wage laws, but workers say it's not enough to live:

The SCI assessors found that wages are paid on time and are above the applicable legal rates...Sick leave payments are higher than the local law requirement, with workers compensated 70% as opposed to the minimum law requirement of 60%. Overtime hours were also paid at the appropriate premiums...With respect to satisfaction with wages, 64.3% of workers thought that their salary was not sufficient to cover their basic needs. 

Interns perhaps suffer the worst fate:

This means that the general protections of the labor law do not apply to interns, including the social security benefits that normal workers receive. While regulations applying to interns exist in Guangdong Province and the Ministry of Education has issued policy regarding interns, their employment status remains vague and represents a major risk. 

Migrant workers are unable to claim social security and unemployment benefits:

Social security, medical and unemployment insurance require contributions from both the employer and the employee. However, migrant workers may not be able to claim those benefits in their hometown if they retire or become unemployed. It all depends on whether the two provinces in question (where they work and where they have residence) have established the institutional mechanisms to transfer the relevant funds....At the Shenzhen facilities only 1% of the workforce are local, while the migrant workers are not enrolled in the unemployment and maternity insurance systems.

Workers felt “insecure regarding their health and safety":

Investigators found that workers were largely alienated, in fact or in perception, from factories’ safety and health committees and had little confidence in the management of health and safety issues. The assessment also suggests that if workers had more involvement with developing and monitoring health and safety procedures, many of the problems with implementation could be avoided.

Employees work far beyond the legal limit:

During peak production, the average number of hours worked per week at Foxconn factories exceeded both the FLA Code standard and Chinese legal limits. This was true in all three factories. Further, there were periods during which some employees worked more than seven days in a row without the required minimum 24-hour break. The root causes include high labor turnover, which undermines efficiency, and gaps in production and capacity planning.

See the full 13-page report here.

AlterNet / By Angela Lee

Posted at March 30, 2012, 7:49am

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