iPhone factories vow better treatment of employees

A major Apple Inc. supplier in China has agreed to improve working conditions after an independent U.S.-based labor practices group said it found excessive overtime and workers who weren’t being compensated fairly, among other things.

The agreement Wednesday by Foxconn Technology Group of Taiwan, China’s biggest private-sector employer, came as Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook visited one of several of Foxconn’s factories, which assemble most of Apple’s iPhones and iPads.

According to ABC News, Foxconn has promised to lower overtime hours without lowering pay. The result, however, could mean higher costs for not only Apple products but many other electronics.

The Fair Labor Association spent a month interviewing 35,000 Foxconn workers at factories and off campus as it investigated allegations of poor working conditions. The group said it visually observed working conditions and reviewed payroll and employee records.

According to ABC:

Workers’ hours and overtime payment issues are the main focus of the 13-page report. Within the last 12 months, at all three of Apple’s Foxconn factories — in Guanian, Longhua, and Chengdu — the average employee worked over 60 hours per week, the FLA found. The legal limit is 49 hours per week, including overtime.

“There were periods during which some employees worked more than seven days in a row without the required minimum 24 hours break,” the report says.

Computer manufactures are already trying to figure out the impact higher labor costs will have on other companies.

“If Foxconn’s labor cost goes up … that will be an industry-wide phenomenon and then we have to decide how much do we pass on to our customers versus how much cost do we absorb,” Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Meg Whitman told Reuters last month.

Are you willing to pay more for your smartphone or tablet if it means better working conditions and more pay for those who produce them?

18 comments Add your comment

Hugh Jass

March 29th, 2012
6:24 pm

I would rather pay $50 more for my iPhone than have people treated as indentured servants in sweatshops overseas. If you want to see the deplorable conditions these people work in watch the documentary “Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices.”

daisy do

March 29th, 2012
6:43 pm

Why would apple need to raise the price of products to treat workers better and better pay, we all know the company has millions in reserves and more rolling in constantly-lets see a kinder gentler apple thats not so amazingly greedy!AMEN

fair witness

March 29th, 2012
7:44 pm

Amen to you, Daisy Do — well said. I am an Apple shareholder (20 shares!) and I love watching that share price go up and up, but the more I learn about how their profits are achieved from worker abuse, the dirtier I feel about my good fortune obtained at their expense. You are absolutely right — there is NO reason Apple cannot improve worker conditions without raising prices: they have an obscene cash reserve, plus, and here’s a radical thought, they could just ABSORB the slightly higher product cost, reduce their profit margin slightly and maintain current pricing as is. The big question for Apple is what will cause their share price to take a bigger hit: a slightly lower profit margin per unit, or ongoing revelations of worker abuse? I hope it’s the worker abuse issue that will make Apple take pause and elect to “think different” and do the right thing, but anyone who expects a global corporation to do the right thing and the world to be fair is usually greatly disappointed. I’ve had a good run with my 20 shares, but lately have thought about cash ing them in to put towards a new used car. These new reveleations are making this decision much easier for me, and maybe also for some of my fellow shareholders with troubled consciences

Giddy up horsey

March 29th, 2012
8:04 pm

Here is an Idea… Make Apple products here in AMERICA… Keep JOBS in AMERICA.. Spend AMERICAN dollars on AMERICAN made products made by AMERICANS… OOOOOOHH I KNOW!! I KNOW!!!! That would be the smart thing to do…. and this is AMERICA…

Giddy up horsey

March 29th, 2012
8:07 pm

And further more I’d rather have poor working conditions than no working conditions at all.. Nothing worse than standing in an AMERICAN Unemployment line while using my China, Tiawan, Japan, Korea blah blah blah IPhone and other AMERICAN devices and services…. Take back AMERICA!!

Soothsayer

March 29th, 2012
9:40 pm

The correct word is manufacturers dumbass! Where can I get a job like yours?

ABBYSENIA

March 29th, 2012
11:53 pm

B.S.!!! It shouldn’t take an audit for this to be the case. They want SLAVE labor…but they can’t say that. They want to hire them because they can abuse them…and refuse to hire americans who actually demand fair/decent wages and good working conditions. 60hr/week!?… That’s 8.5hr/wk-7days or 12hr/day 6days/wk.

ladilovely

March 30th, 2012
12:00 am

Everybody is downing Walmart but where are the protests for Apple?

My Two Cents

March 30th, 2012
12:10 am

Yes, bring those jobs to the U.S.A!

tom

March 30th, 2012
12:10 am

consumer electronics will never be made on american shores again.

White Trash Bill

March 30th, 2012
12:59 am

Shoot I bet it still beats workin at the chickin plant.

Itsmeagain

March 30th, 2012
1:56 am

@giddy up horsey
It would cost a thousand dollars per phone if they were made in America. It’s unfortunate but the way tHe system works would make it impossible. Morality in manufaturing comes at a price.

Fred ™

March 30th, 2012
6:00 am

Apple makes around 10 BILLION DOLLARS profit PER MONTH because they use Chinese slave labor rather than pay Americans.

Enjoy you Apples you idiots. Enjoy enriching the Chinese while fellow Americans can’t get a job.

J

March 30th, 2012
7:02 am

I definitely think Apple think tank can absorb the cost of better conditions, really, raise prices of already overpriced gadgets….it doesn’t matter cause Americans will still line up in the rain to buy the latest and greatest despite the cost…..new IPAD SOLD 3mil and counting since it’s release.

Blue Fender

March 30th, 2012
7:23 am

It costs Apple about $65 to make an iPhone. Yet, they charge $600. I think they can take a small hit with this. But alas, it will be the American consumer bailing out yet another foreign manufacturer.

Of course, you can blame the unions for all these jobs being shipped “over there”. Greed drives in circles.

[...] iPhone 5 Near To Launch?ValueWalkiPhone factories vow better treatment of employeesAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Pittsburgh Post Gazette -Financial Timesall 1,712 news [...]

[...] new round of …Washington PostThe iPhone and Consumer GuiltHuffington Post (blog)CNN -Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)all 413 news [...]

Don

April 4th, 2012
7:54 pm

Labor costs in China account for 1% of Apple’s cost. They could quadruple the pay (which would be a marginally living wage in China), and Apple would still make 30 billion dollars.