In 2010, Foxconn was under the spotlight of the media due to the suicide tragedies. At least 18 workers committed suicides and 3 survived. One year on from the spate of suicides, SACOM has high expectation on Foxconn and Apple to fulfil their promises to ensure decent working conditions at the factories.
In spring 2011, SACOM visited Foxconn’s iPad production site in Chengdu. Rampant labour rights violations and harsh management remain. Workers always have excessive and forced overtime work. Sometimes, they have to skip meals if they cannot accomplish the production target. They have to stand for over 10 hours on shop floor and cannot talk with each other. They are exposed to chemicals aluminium dust but do not have adequate protection. And it is appalling that almost all the new workers have to undergo “military training”.
According to the interviewees, the big clients, including Apple, always have representatives in the factory to monitor the quality and productivity of the products. In other words, Apple is aware of the labour rights abuses at Foxconn. Despite the code of conduct of Apple dictates “under no circumstances shall workweeks exceed the maximum permitted under applicable laws and regulations.”
In reality, Foxconn workers in Chengdu always have 80-100 overtime hours per month which are 2-3 times of the legal limit. Likewise, Apple always claims it will ensure the suppliers to establish measures to protect workers from occupational diseases.
However, Foxconn workers who produce iPad do not have pre-post training about substance of the chemicals, no adequate protective equipment and no on-post health examination. On 20 May, an explosion erupted at Foxconn in Chengdu.
The tragedy happened in the polishing department and involved an explosion of ultra-light dust. Workers complained to SACOM that the ventilation of department is poor. Workers polish the iPad cases to make them shinny. In the process, there is lots of aluminium dust floating in the air. Workers always breathe in aluminium dust even though they put on mask. When workers take off their cotton gloves, their hands are covered with aluminium dust.
Regardless the explosion, this is detrimental to the health of workers.
Regrettably, Apple simply connives at the blatant labour rights violations at Foxconn.
SACOM’s investigative report, Foxconn and Apple Fail to Fuifill Promises: Predicaments of Workers after the Suicides, is downloadable at http://sacom.hk/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/2011-05-06_foxconn-and-apple-fail-
Chinese version of this video is available below