Working conditions at the Chinese plant are met by early praise from the President of the Fair Labor Association
The head of the Fair Labor Association (FLA), Auret van Heerden, has said working conditions at Foxconn’s manufacturing plants are above average in early reports.
The FLA’s ongoing inspections into Apple’s various Chinese suppliers are seeking to refute or validate claims of slave-like labour and dangerous conditions, and will also investigate Quanta, Pegatron and Wintek among others.
‘First-class’ and ‘tranquil’ Foxconn
“The facilities are first-class; the physical conditions are way, way above average of the norm,” van Heerden said of Foxconn to Reuters. “I was very surprised when I walked onto the floor at Foxconn, how tranquil it is compared with a garment factory.”
He went on to explain how emotional support for employees is needed due to boredom, monotony, alienation and, for some workers, homesickness. The next phase in the FLA’s investigation will be to interview workers in groups of 30, collecting data for a report due in early March.
Coinciding with the continuing inspection, Foxconn today announced a wage rise of 16-25 per cent for its workers, the third increase since 2010. Junior level workers will receive 1,800 yuan (£181) per month, rising to 2,200 yuan (£221) should the employee pass a technical exam. The equivalent company wage three years ago was 900 yuan (£90).
“As a top manufacturing company in China, the basic salary of junior workers in all of Foxconn’s China factories is already far higher than the minimum wage set by all local governments,” said Foxconn in a statement. “We will provide more training opportunities and learning time, and will continuously enhance technology, efficiency and salary, so as to set a good example for the Chinese manufacturing industry.”
The comments from van Heerden and the pay rise from Foxconn suggest a positive atmosphere for workers in defiance of several grim reports of plant explosions and forced overtime. However, there has been some backlash from American groups claiming something about the investigation seems amiss.
“Generally, in a labor rights investigation, the findings come after the evidence is gathered, not the other way around,” Scott Nova, executive director of the Workers Rights Consortium, told the New York Times. “I’m amazed that the FLA would give one of the most notoriously abusive factories in the world a clean bill of health — based, it appears, on nothing more than a guided tour provided by the owner.”