Troubled electronics manufacturer Foxconn is back in the headlines again with alleged reports of workers facing violence from guards
The Taiwanese maker of the Apple iPhone and other high tech goods, is once again in the limelight after a leaked report found continued ill-treatment of workers.
Foxconn makes products for a number of tech companies including Dell, HP, and of course Apple. Over the past year it has been dogged with controversy over the high number of suicides among its workforce, amid ongoing reports of brutal working conditions.
Apple, Microsoft, Nokia and Dell have all conducted investigations to ensure that conditions at the plants are healthy and, in June, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs went as far as to dismiss claims that Foxconn was a sweatshop.
But further fuel has been thrown onto the fire with a soon-to-be-released academic study that alleges Foxconn is engaged in widespread employee abuse.
According to the Beijing-based Global Times newspaper, the study was conducted by 60 students and teachers from 20 universities in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. It also apparently involved 14 investigators who were able to “enter the company and experience ‘life inside Foxconn’ themselves.”
“According to information obtained through insiders, illegal activities include: abuse of interns, overly strict training and harsh punishments as well as the turning of blind eye to safety problems in the workplace and unreal salary hikes, among others,” reported the Chinese newspaper.
The newspaper cited the fact that, under Chinese law, interns (who have no work contract), are only allowed to work eight hours per day. However, the study apparently found that in some plants interns worked 10-hour shifts, and in some cases were forced to work night shifts.
The leaked report will also reveal that interns were abused at the plants of Shenzhen, Kunshan, Taiyuan, Wuhan and Shanghai. In some cases, interns made up 50 percent of all the plants’ employees.
The report also pointed out that “Foxconn’s labour system is characterised with highly-intensified workload, low payment, violent training, all at the cost of the workers’ dignity”.
And according to the report, 38.1 percent of all workers at Foxconn have experienced having their privacy invaded by management personnel or the safeguards; 54.6 percent are indignant towards its management.
More worryingly however is that 16.4 percent of workers have claimed to be subjected to some kind of corporal violence.
The company’s strict monitoring makes it resemble a prison, the report said. Even in the same plant, employees from different departments are forbidden to communicate with one another, and mobile phones, as well as any metal object are not allowed into the facility.
No response had been received from Foxconn at the time of writing.