Report of Mozilla deal shades Apple setback as labour protesters turn up the volume at AGM
Toh Han Shih firstname.lastname@example.org
Labour activists make their point at the Foxconn meeting.
The Hong Kong share price of Foxconn International jumped 7.2 per cent, on a day the smartphone manufacturer’s labour practices came under attack by protesters at its annual general meeting.
With yesterday’s spike, Foxconn’s stock has now soared 18 per cent from Monday to HK$3.73 yesterday.
On Tuesday, Reuters reported that Foxconn’s Taiwanese parent, Hon Hai Precision Industries, will partner US technology firm Mozilla to make mobile devices using Mozilla’s Firefox operating system, which may have contributed to the price jump.
“Foxconn has both good news and bad news,” said Miles Xie Jianying, an analyst at Bocom International.
One negative for Foxconn is that Apple is shifting orders for its cheaper iPhones from Hon Hai to another Taiwanese manufacturer, Pegatron, said Xie. Hon Hai now makes nearly all the iPads and iPhones.
Foxconn spokesman Huang Yuan Ting declined to comment on Apple’s switching of orders.
At Foxconn’s annual general meeting in Hong Kong yesterday, the Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) and other local organisations protested against the company’s alleged maltreatment of workers. Up to 20 demonstrators at the meeting, chanted slogans and waved placards such as “Foxconn the sweatshop, workers the slaves”.
In February, the Financial Times reported that Foxconn would democratise trade unions in its mainland factories with the assistance of the US-based Fair Labour Association, giving workers voting rights. Apple last year commissioned the FLA to investigate working conditions at Foxconn’s mainland plants, after at least 10 employees committed suicide in 2010. Foxconn had not fully carried out the democratisation of the labour unions and had ignored questions posed by SACOM, the latter’s project officer, Liang Pui Kwan, told the South China Morning Post.
A handful of police officers were at the annual general meeting at the Mira hotel. The police were called in by Foxconn, a Mira hotel employee said.
“We respect the demonstrators’ right to express their views,” said Huang, but added that he would not comment on the matter as it was for Foxconn’s parent Hon Hai to decide.
Yesterday’s meeting approved Foxconn’s plan to change its name to FIH Mobile.
“Our results for the whole of last year were not so pretty, but the second half was notably better than the first,” said Huang.
Last year, Foxconn posted a net loss of US$316.42 million after a net profit of US$72.84 million in 2011, while revenue dropped 17.6 per cent to US$5.24 billion.
This article first appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition on Friday, 31 May, 2013 [UPDATED: 3:58AM] as Foxconn investors look to bright side with stock surge