Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Silicon sweatshops in China exposed by academics in China

The serious labor abuses that this spring led to 11 worker suicides at two Foxconn plants in Shenzhen, China, are continuing at other Foxconn electronic factories in China, according to a study by academics and students at universities in China.

Foxconn, based in Taiwan, is the world’s largest manufacturer of electronics. Its nearly 1,000,000 workers in China alone produce best-selling gadgets for the world’s top multinationals, including Apple, Sony, HP, and Nokia.

The 90-page report was first released October 11 to China’s media and a new commercial Website based in Boston, GlobalPost, http://www.global.post.com. Its correspondent, Kathleen E. McLaughlin, has been following the Foxconn story as part of an on-going Globalpost investigation of the complex supply chains that produce many of our most precious, high-tech gadgets.

The report makes a litany of charges, including treating people as interns and students and hiring them through third-part employment agencies, thus avoiding insurance and other benefits required under Chinese law. In several of the 12 Foxconn facilities visited in a two-month-long study, interns were found to constitute the majority of workers, and expected to work unlimited overtime, contrary to law.

“Under the labor and dormitory conditions, there is great physical, spiritual, and special repression,” the report charged. “A worker can easily be forced to the edge of collapse. Many workers use words like ‘cage’ and ‘prison’ to describe Foxconn.”

In a statement, “Foxconn Technology Group strongly and categorically rejects…alleging worker abuse, illegal practices and unsafe working conditions at our operations in China.” The company insisted that it follows all Chinese laws, including the one on hiring interns through vocational schools. It said that interns numbered 7.8 percent of its Chinese work force.

A question left unanswered: how was it possible for a group to conduct and publicize this study in Communist China?

Print Page

No comments: