Today, 31 May 2012, the Hong Kong based labour group Students and Scholars against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) has released a report entitled ‘Sweatshops are good for Apple and Foxconn, but not for workers’. SACOM responds to a remark by Terry Gou, CEO of Foxconn, that “There’s nothing wrong with working hard, with blood and sweat, as long as no laws are broken.”

SACOM is a member of the GoodElectronics Network. The GoodElectronics Network shares the concerns expressed by SACOM in this newest report. Despite Apple, Foxconn’s main buyer, joining the Fair Labor Association (FLA) in January this year, major labour issues remain. In February and March, FLA has conducted investigations at Foxconn production facilities and a report was issued pointing out non-compliances and suggesting remedial actions. On the basis of interviews with 170 workers in Zhengzhou (airport zone, processing zone, Zhongmou county) and Shenzhen (Guanlan, Longhua and Songgang), held between March and May 2012, SACOM concludes, however, that improvements on the work floor are not yet forthcoming. SACOM states that ‘labour rights violations remain the norm in the Foxconn factories’. HP, Nokia, Amazon, Dell are other major customers of Foxconn.

SACOM reports that:

•    Workers are not aware of the FLA report or the suggested remedial actions
•    Workers are denied freedom of speech
•    Workers are denied freedom of association
•    In Zhengzhou, the overall salaries have decreased. Although the base payment has increased, the overtime has decreased, and occasionally overtime is not even paid
•    In Longhua, during the lead-up to the release of the new iPad in March 2012, forced overtime amounted to 60-80 hours/month. In Songgan, where printed circuit boards are made for Apple, Nokia and HP, same story
•    Overtime is subjected to the customers’ needs.
•    Workers in Longhua have to meet higher production targets; workers in Guanlan and Zhengzhou have to do the same work but with fewer people on the production line because of the high turnover rate
•    Inhuman treatment is still widespread, including humiliating disciplinary measures such as forcing workers to write and read out ‘confession letters’, and to clean toilets.
•    Unsafe working environment and inadequate training for workers on health and safety.

GoodElectronics supports SACOM in its call for remedial actions and structural reforms, in particular:

•    The formation of genuine trade unions through democratic elections at all Foxconn production facilities;
•    The provision of a living wage for all workers;
•    The review of management methods to ensure labour rights training for workers, including training on occupational health and safety;
•    Compensation for workers who have been victim of labour rights violations.
Read the full report.

Thursday morning May 31st, SACOM and Chinese labour groups including the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions ((HKCTU), Workers Empowerment, Globalization Monitor and the Chinese Working Women Network staged a protest at Foxconn’s shareholders’ meeting. It is the third time SACOM and the labour groups in Hong Kong greet Foxconn’s shareholders’ meeting with a protest. In response to Terry Gou’s sweatshop statement, a giant souvenir flag was offered to Foxconn stating that “Foxconn’s is the world’s no. 1 sweatshop”. Foxconn declined to accept te SACOM reprot and the flag.

The past 2 years, SACOM has published a series of reports on labour rights issues in the Chinese electroncis industry, in particular at Foxconn:

•    Apple owes Workers and Public a Response over the Poisonings, (May 2010)
•    Workers as Machines: Military Management in Foxconn, (October2010)
•    More Workers are Poisoned by Apple, (October 2010)
•    Foxconn and Apple Fail to Fulfil Promises: Predicaments of Workers after the Suicides, (May 2011)
•    iSlave behind the iPhone: Foxconn Workers in Central China, (September 2011)
All reports are downloadable at