Foxconn Cuts Hours, Workers Not Happy

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Foxconn, the company that builds electronic devices including Apple’s iPad and iPhone, has cut back on overtime hours in response to worker’s rights concerns, although the company’s employees don’t seem to be happy with the change.

Foxconn promised to raise wages so its factory workers wouldn’t see a drop in pay, but employees aren’t convinced they’ll still make as much money. Apple is supporting Foxconn’s plan to cut back on the amount of overtime factory workers spend on assembly lines.

Foxconn reduces shift length after working conditions auditFoxconn reduces shift length after working conditions audit

“We have just been told that we can only work a maximum of 36 hours a month of overtime. I tell you, a lot of us are unhappy with this,” Foxconn factory worker Chen Yamie told Reuters. “We think that 60 hours of overtime a month would be reasonable and that 36 hours would be too little.”

Many of Foxconn’s employees come from economically depressed parts of China and rely on their wages to support families and the thought of losing working hours and the accompanying pay has them concerned. Employees also claim they prefer working for Foxconn because conditions are better than at other factories.

While Foxconn’s own employees aren’t excited about the changes, human rights groups should see the working hours reduction as a good sign.

The Fair Labor Association announced this week that it’s independent month-long audit of Foxconn’s factories that build products for Apple have “significant issues.” Foxconn’s commitment to lower hours without loss of pay is one of the steps the company is taking to improve working conditions following the audit results.

The company has also committed to reporting all worker accidents instead of only the incidents that stop production, paying all overtime, and offering actual worker representation in its unions. “If implemented, these commitments will significantly improve the lives of more than 1.2 million Foxconn employees and set a new standard for Chinese factories,” commented Fair Labor Association President and CEO Auret van Heerden.

Comments

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

When people move away from their families to work to provide a better life for their families, they will want to work the maximum number of hours they can to send home the maximum amount of money they can while they are away. You see the same phenomenon with Arctic oil rigs and international startups.

Prediction: Suicides at Foxconn go up, as workers have more free time that they feel they are wasting, courtesy of the human rights watchdogs.

Prediction: Despite not losing pay for lost overtime hours, workers union will want additional hours available for additional pay.

BurmaYank

A Man and his Son were once going with their Donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said: ?You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon??   

  So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: ?See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.?   

  So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn?t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other: ?Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.?   

  Well, the Man didn?t know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up before him on the Donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at. The men said: ?Aren?t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor Donkey of yours?you and your hulking son??   

  The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the Donkey?s feet to it, and raised the pole and the Donkey to their shoulders. They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together he was drowned.   

  ?That will teach you,? said an old man who had followed them:
        ?PLEASE ALL, AND YOU WILL PLEASE NONE.?

wab95

While Foxconn?s own employees aren?t excited about the changes, human rights groups should see the working hours reduction as a good sign.


The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

This is the problem with trying sort problems in one location using a different sociocultural reference frame. This is not the first time, nor likely to be the last, that primarily Western activists have intervened on behalf of the working poor in a developing country, only to find that their efforts are less than enthusiastically received.

A Man and his Son were once going with their Donkey to market…

One of my favourite stories. I think the issue here, however, is a failure on the part of activists to understand the relationships between either the man, the son or the donkey in the local context.

Living in this part of the world, I believe that Brad is correct that, even if pay rises in order to offset lost hours, workers will still want those hours back (they are accustomed to working them) in order get yet more pay, and will be unhappy if they are unable to do so.

I suspect that this is not yet over.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Living in this part of the world, I believe that Brad is correct that, even if pay rises in order to offset lost hours, workers will still want those hours back (they are accustomed to working them) in order get yet more pay, and will be unhappy if they are unable to do so.

You could probably come up with 100 similar examples of behavior of people everywhere, where you make significant effort or sacrifice for an opportunity and naturally want to maximize the return. Imagine if DisneyLand imposed a 10 ride limit per guest per day. Or Outback imposed a 1500 calorie limit per diner. Dude, we are going out for steak. The diet is already damned tonight. I am having a Blooming Onion and a Cinnamon Oblivion.

Lee Dronick

When I was younger I could work a lot more hours than I can now.  And yes I was away from home in a manner of speaking, working on a ship.

See today’s Joy of Tech Comic

wab95

See today?s Joy of Tech Comic

Very nice, indeed.

iJack

Only home-grown revolutions work.
Even Karl Marx knew that.
When workers want fewer hours for the same money, then they’ll organize and take a step in that direction.  In the meantime, everybody else should piss off and mind their own stores.

Lee Dronick

Tomorrow is Cesar Chavez Day

“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community. Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”

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