Apple, Foxconn, FLA Respond to ABC News Story on Labor Conditions

On Monday, an ABC News Nightline special report focused on the conditions at the Foxconn factory that makes Apple’s iPhone and iPad, along with products from other electronics companies. It was the first time Apple had allowed a journalist to see its production line and report on it. After the report aired, Apple, Foxconn, and the Fair Labor Association responded to specific points raised during the story.

Apple clarified a claim by Foxconn employee Zhou Xiao Ying that she etches the Apple logo into 6,000 iPads each day. The company said: “In manufacturing parlance this is called deburring. Her line processes 3,000 units per shift, with two shifts per day for a total of 6,000. A single operator at Ms. Zhou’s station would deburr 3,000 iPads in a shift.”

Apple believes the employee misunderstood the question she was asked, pointing out that she couldn’t work an 8 AM to 8 PM shift and then another 8 PM to 8 AM shift, for a total of 6,000 iPads etched, since that would result in her working round-the-clock.

Foxconn replied to a comment about the starting pay at its factory: “We have over 75 percent of the employees in the category of earning at least 2,200 RMB ($349/month) basic compensation standard. That means they are earning 13.75 RMB ($2.18) per hour. If they work overtime on the weekend, they will earn 27 RMB ($4.28) per hour. In order to reach 3,500 to be taxable, they will have to work 47 OT hours to reach 3,500.

“If the overtime hours are in weekdays, they have to work around 63 hours per month to reach that level of salary to be taxable. Your statement is only true when applying to the entry-level workers while over 75 percent are already over the probation and earning more than 2,200 RMB basic salary.”

Finally, Auret van Heerden, President and CEO of the Fair Labor Association, clarified the a point made about a “five-year conversation” with Apple: “The discussions began in April 2007 but stalled in March 2008. We then resumed them in April 2009 and decided to do a small pilot survey so that Apple could get an idea of how our tools might add value to their program.

“That pilot led to a second activity that I believe contributed to the decision to join the FLA at the end of 2011. I, of course, cannot speak for Apple but I do believe that the decision to join was probably taken some months before (and therefore well before) the New York Times articles.”