The Fair Labor Association (FLA) has been inspecting the working conditions of Apple’s top eight suppliers in China (including Foxconn Technology Group) after reports of horrible working conditions and worker suicides. Although an interim report won’t be released until early March, the initial reaction to Foxconn’s inspection was positive.
Auret van Heerden, president of the FLA, visited several Foxconn plants and said “The facilities are first-class; the physical conditions are way, way above average of the norm.” He suggested that the reason workers took their own lives was not because of they were treated badly but because they needed emotional support and weren’t getting it. “You have lot of young people, coming from rural areas, away from families for the first time,” he said. “They’re taken from a rural into an industrial lifestyle, often quite an intense one, and that’s quite a shock to these young workers.
In addition to inspecting the factory, some of the workers will be interviewed and their answers will be submitted anonymously into iPads. Some of the questions include how the workers were hired, if they were paid a fee, if they were offered and signed contracts and whether they understood them, the condition of their dorm rooms and food, if complaints are acted upon, and their emotional well being.
An interim report will be made public in early March with the eventual FLA report identifying areas the suppliers need to improve and offer suggestions as to how to fix problems.
Perhaps not coincidentally, Foxconn has recently increased the wages of its workers by 16 – 25%, the first since June 2010. The wages of junior level workers in Shenzhen, southern China, is now 1,800 yuan ($290) per month and could be further raised above 2,200 yuan if the worker passes a technical examination. “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,” a statement from Foxconn said.