Hong Kong, 9 May 2013

Promise from Foxconn on democratic union is broken

A recent report conducted by a group of scholars and students from China and Hong Kong1 reveals that the high enrolment rate of Foxconn union is just window-dressing. The world’s biggest factory empire has never realized its commitment to promote democratic industrial relation and to fulfill its corporate social responsibility. In addition, according to the latest news report from a Chinese newspaper, the promised union elections are in limbo. SACOM urges Foxconn to push forward the democratization of trade union as soon as possible.

On 4 February 2013, the Financial Times reported that Foxconn is going to launch its first ever democratic union elections among its factories with the assistance from Fair Labor Association (FLA). Thus, “The new generation migrant workers concern programme” research team is established and studies the development of trade union and workers’ expectation on the future union.

The report released on 1 May 2013 discovers that although workers generally understand what a labour union is, their understanding on the current “Trade Union Law” in China is weak. More than half of the workers (55.5%) fail to notify both of their legal rights to vote and to stand as a candidate for the union. Worse still, Workers’ participation of the current trade union in Foxconn is almost absent. Workers reflect that they joined the union “automatically” when they were hired by Foxconn. They have extremely little idea about the operation of the trade union. For example, more than 95% of the workers do not know if they have paid the membership fee of the union.

Besides, there are only few channels for them to reach the union. One of them is the labour caring hotline “78585”, which is a complaint and counselling channel set up by Foxconn for workers. However, there are reports about the complainants often got revenge from their seniors and complaints are never solved. From the above findings, the genuine trade union with democratic participation never exists. Foxconn’s union promise is only for their marketing image and a faked response to their customers’ concern.

The report further confirms Foxconn workers’ strong expectations on genuine trade union, including: firstly, the Ability to intervene the management, the union as a mediator to improve their tiresome working condition through intervention into the factory management; secondly, Fight for workers’ rights and basic level workers’ participation in the union, workers are looking forward to have a democratic union with frontline workers’ participation for worker’s rights and interests.

Unfortunately, there was another report from a mainland Chinese press, Securities Daily2 on 6 May 2013, referring to a Foxconn spokesperson, who claimed that “union election is never on Foxconn’s agenda”. SACOM is very regretted that Foxconn has broken its promise to launch a genuinely representative union election. We see no reason for Foxconn to ignore workers’ strong and clear demand on the democratization of union.

We are asking Foxconn:

  1. together with FLA, to give a full account on direct union elections in Foxconn factories;
  2. to promote genuine democratization and participation of general workers on trade union as soon as possible;
  3. to fulfil its responsibilities and promises on the issue of labour rights and respect the dignity of workers.

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[LINK 1]: English excerpt of The report on Foxconn trade union research

[LINK 2]: Foxconn union research report – Chinese version


1“The new generation migrant workers concern programme” research team was formed by teachers and students of Peking University, Wuhan University, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the University of Hong Kong, the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The fieldwork research started on March 15 and ended on April 7. First-hand data was collected through questionnaires as well as face-to-face interviews with workers.

2 Ma,Y. (6 May 2013). Doubt on Foxconn union election: No such thing. Foxconn workers state the existing union is only a false show. Securities Daily, C4 retrieved from http://zqrb.ccstock.cn/html/2013-05/06/content_355867.htm (Chinese only)

馬燕 (201356)富士康工會直選疑雲:根本沒有這回事 員工稱工會不管事只管歌舞昇平〉《證券日報》C4版。擷取自http://zqrb.ccstock.cn/html/2013-05/06/content_355867.htm