Foxconn is the biggest electronics manufacturer in the world. It is where Apple’s devices such as the new iPad and the iPhone 5 are built. Sadly, Foxconn factories are also known for their poor working conditions and long working hours that have pushed many of its workers to suicide.
Earlier during the week, around 2,000 Foxconn employees rioted, which injured 40 people. The riot temporarily stopped production in one factory in Taiyuan, which was caused by clashes between workers and guards. It is also believed that the high demand for the iPhone 5 has put everyone on edge. Experts warn, via the Washington post, that the issues behind the riot must be resolved. Otherwise, more riots will follow.
Speaking to the Post, a Shenzhen labor expert, Liu Kaiming, said, “Such riots have become in some ways inevitable. It’s no longer simply a matter raising the wages.”
The US Fair Labor Association (FLA) found that Foxconn employees were working extremely long hours without overtime (11 days straight with no day off at 70 hours a week), saying that “serious and pressing concerns” plagued factory workers.
Furthermore, the preciseness and repetitiveness of the job is causing a stressful environment for employees.
Lastly, factory workers complained to the post of abusive guards and poor management. A former worker said one problem was “spiritual emptiness”. Workers were not allowed to talk to each other.
When reports of worker abuse surfaced, Apple quickly took action. Talking after FLA conducted its inspection, Tim Cook, Apple CEO, said, “Our team has been working for years to educate workers, improve conditions, and make Apple’s supply chain a model for the industry.”
For the first time, Apple pressured Foxconn to raise wages and change working conditions for its factory workers. Sadly, this has done little to alleviate the pressure.
The pressure is expected to reach its boiling point once more with the increase of the iPhone 5’s production during the holiday season.