Apple will chip in to boost iPhone workers’ conditions, says FoxConn boss
Apple will help Chinese iPhone manufacturer FoxConn pay for improvements to conditions at factories which have been accused of being “sweatshops”.
The two companies will split the costs of improving factory conditions at plants where conditions have led to a spate of suicides and a storm of international protests, FoxConn’s CEO Terry Gou said at a ceremony today to kick off construction of FoxConn’s new Chinese headquarters in Shanghai.
Improved conditions are a competitive strength?
Improving factory conditions is not a cost, “it is a competitive strength,” said Gou at the ceremony, according to Reuters. “I believe Apple sees this as a competitive strength along with us, and so we will split the initial costs.”
Taiwanese firm FoxConn makes iPhones and iPads as well as a host of other consumer devices such as the Xbox 360, in giant factories across China. For some years, pay and conditions at these factories have been linked to suicides amongst workers, while industrial accidents have led to deaths.
In March, Apple and FoxConn promised conditions in the factories would improve, through hiring of extra employees to cut down overtime. Apple CEO Tim Cook visited a FoxConn plant, following a report from the Fair Labor Association (FLA).
Foxconn has increased wages by up to 25 percent, but suicide protests have continued, and the FLA report has been criticised for ignoring Foxconn’s internships, which some describe as “forced labour”.
While Gou spoke of improving conditions, FoxConn is engaged in seeking out workers in new sites within China, who are prepared to work for lower wages, as the company’s quarterly results were lower than expected.
The company also hopes to build the domestic Chinese market for mobile devices – hence the new headquarters building there.
TechWeekEurope approached Apple to ask how costs of further improvemetns will be split, but has not received an answer.
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