Foxconn accused of exploiting workers in China: survey

SHANGHAI — IT firm Foxconn faces renewed pressure over conditions at its factories after state media said Friday it had been accused of forcing staff in China to work excessive overtime while exploiting interns.

The results of a survey of employees at Foxconn come just months after a spate of suicides at the Taiwan company’s plants in China, including 10 at its Shenzhen facility which employs an estimated 400,000 workers.

Researchers questioned 1,736 workers at plants in nine cities and found they worked an average 83.2 hours overtime a month, more than twice the maximum 36 hours allowed under Chinese law, the China Business News said.
Workers also claimed Foxconn skimped on overtime payments, forced student interns to work more than the statutory eight hours a day and provided inadequate medical check-ups for employees exposed to poisonous and harmful substances, the report said.

Foxconn is the world’s largest maker of computer components, assembling goods for some of the world’s biggest companies including Apple and Nokia.

The researchers were from more than 10 mainland universities, two Hong Kong universities and a Taiwan university, the report said, without saying when the survey was conducted.

The high-profile suicides at Foxconn this year highlighted the poor working conditions for millions of factory workers across the country and sparked an official investigation. The results have not yet been published.

Yin Chengji, a senior official at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, told reporters in July that concerns about the suicides had “subsided”, according to state media reports at the time.

Labour rights activists blamed the suicides at Foxconn on tough working conditions in its factories.

But company founder Terry Gou has said none of the suicides was directly work-related and that he was cleared by Chinese authorities of any wrongdoing in the period leading up to the workers’ deaths.

Foxconn responded to the deaths by installing a suicide hotline, hiring Buddhist monks and counsellors to help at-risk employees, pledging to retrain supervisors and installing safety nets outside buildings.

It also hiked salaries for assembly line workers by about 70 percent.

Foxconn did not immediately respond to questions about the survey from AFP.

- AFP