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Apple’s new products increase pressure on Foxconn workers

27 September, 2012On Monday clashes came across Foxconn's plant in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China. Reports indicate the 79,000 workers employed at the Foxconn plant in Taiyuan are not that thrilled with the newly released iPhone 5, being forced to work under increased pressure to meet Apple’s deadlines.

Reportedly the tensions started on 23 September as a result of an excessive use of force used by guards against workers. Over 2,000 people were involved in fights resulting in 40 being hospitalized and suspended production. The company officials deny the guards involvement in the conflict, but demanded additional government forces to prevent further riots.

On 29 March 2012 Apple publicly claimed to address working conditions at its Chinese supply chain factories that build iPhones, iPods and iPads. Earlier Apple employed Fair Labor Association (FLA) to carry out an audit at its chain of suppliers. In their report (http://www.fairlabor.org/sites/default/files/documents/reports/foxconn_verification_report_final.pdf) dated to August 2012 the FLA referred to rapid improvements at Foxconn enterprises in China since their last missions in July including improvements in working time and wages.

However, a set of testimonies http://chinalaborwatch.org/news/new-422.html collected by the network of activists, China Labor Watch (CLW), from Foxconn workers and published just a few days before the clashes at Taiyuan factory revealed no changes in workers’ conditions, with many saying they have to work additional overtime, sometimes two or three times in excess of the legal limits allowed in China in order to meet Apple’s deadlines.

According to these reports, workers’ pay also remains inadequate and does not fully remunerate long extra hours of work imposed on them. Many report on a fierce attitude of guards towards workers.

Earlier IMF (now IndustriALL Global Union) together with International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Good Electronics, MakeITFair and Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) expressed serious concerns over FLA’s ability to adequate audits of Foxconn sites based in China without involvement of independent unions able to express workers’ concerns "Give Apple workers a voice in their future".

The recent SACOM report (see the link http://sacom.hk/archives/960) released one day before official launch of iPhone 5 confirms one more time these concerns. SACOM interviewed 60 workers in Zhengzhou, detailing continuing problems at the Foxconn plant.

Given its terrible track record on labour relations, IndustriALL’s Indonesian affiliates are expressing concern about Foxconn’s recent announcement to establish production in Indonesia.

“We believe they want to use outsourced workers, and not follow the labor law,” says Said Iqbal, chairman of the Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI).