“What’s wrong with sweatshops?” sums up the attitude of Terry Gou Taiming, the Foxconn CEO. In April 2012, when Foxconn organised a trip to Taiwan for selected Mainland workers, Gou explained his views to the Taiwan media, saying “There’s nothing wrong with working hard, with blood and sweat, as long as no laws are broken.” Most of the workers are angry with Terry Gou’s statement. “Of course sweatshops are good for Terry Gou, but not us. Without our blood and sweat, how could Foxconn grow rapidly?” Lin Yong, a male worker from Guanlan campus retorted.
From March to May 2012, SACOM revisited the Foxconn’s production sites in Zhengzhou of Henan province in inland China and Shenzhen where most of the interviewees work on Apple production lines. The research shows labour rights violations remain the norm in the factories. The following are the key findings of SACOM’s investigations:
- No freedom of speech: In the orientation, workers are warned not to talk to journalists and researchers unless given permission by the management.
- No freedom of association: Workers are ordered to sign up for the company-controlled union without knowing the functions of the unions.
- No transparency in the FLA’s inspections: Workers have no access to the FLA’s report and the remedial actions.
- Overall salary decreases: The basic payment of workers increases but, overall, the salary of workers decreases because the overtime work is cut down.
- Unpaid overtime and demanding production targets: After the pay rise, overtime hours were reduced but, since then, workers have been set higher production targets and sometimes have to work unpaid overtime.
- Excessive overtime for the iPad workers: In the lead-up to the release of the new iPad, workers could not take leave for family reunions during the Chinese New Year. And overtime work for the iPad workers remained at 80 hours a month in April.
- Inhumane treatment: The frontline management continue to impose humiliating disciplinary measures on workers, including forcing workers to write confession letters, reading out these confession letters, cleaning the toilets and manual labouring work.
- Psychological tests for job applicants: The written test for job applicants includes a section designed to screen out workers who have, or might develop, mental health problems.
- Unsafe working environment: No adequate training for workers on work and safety. Workers do not know what kinds of chemicals they are using. At least 728 cases of industrial injuries at Foxconn’s production facilities in Shenzhen have been recorded.