Monday, September 24, 2012

New evidence of disturbing working conditions in iPhone production | Economic Policy Institute:

It bears emphasizing that the portrait painted by this SACOM report differs significantly from the Fair Labor Association’s interim progress report at Foxconn released in August. For instance, the FLA reports that no Foxconn employees now work more than 60 hours a week, but the SACOM results indicate otherwise. Similarly, the FLA reports that Foxconn employees receive regular ergonomic breaks at Foxconn’s Guanlan factory; SACOM found otherwise at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou’s factories.

The differences could be explained by Foxconn only making reforms where the FLA is investigating, or by the possibility that reforms put in place during non-peak periods (which is when the FLA investigation occurred) are not remaining in place during peak periods, when production demands rise. The possible backsliding during the peak period is also consistent with other reports that Foxconn is using coerced student labor to meet production demands (see this New York Times story). More generally, the SACOM report is consistent with this previous EPI and Worker Rights Consortium blog post, which finds that notwithstanding some of the rosy language in the FLA interim report, significant labor rights violations continue at Foxconn, Apple’s main supplier in China.