Foxconn raising factory salaries again

Facing increased scrutiny, company follows up last week's raise with another increase for workers, but the move comes with conditions.

Facing increased media coverage and more scrutiny from its customers after a wave of suicides at its Shenzhen, China, plant, Foxconn said Monday that it will raise the monthly salary of its factory workers once again.

The company said it plans to increase pay to 2,000 yuan ($293) from 1,200 ($176) yuan, an increase of about 67 percent. This follows last week's 30 percent pay raise by the Taiwan-based company.

The new salary does come with a few conditions, according to Foxconn. Workers will have to pass a three-month performance evaluation before they can receive the raise. New employees will join the assembly line with a monthly wage of 1,200 yuan and must pass a three-month probationary period to receive the increase to 2,000 yuan a month.

Foxconn added that it will announce raises for line leaders and supervisors before August 1 and those for factory workers in other parts of China on July 1. With the new wages, the company said that many of its 800,000 workers in China could earn as much as $300 a month, about double their recent salaries, according to The New York Times.

The company said the wage increase is designed to ensure that Foxconn workers have a stable and comfortable income. Though overtime was always voluntary, Foxconn added that the raise will reduce the need for overtime for some employees and make it more a personal choice.

"This wage increase has been instituted to safeguard the dignity of workers, accelerate economic transformation, support Foxconn's long-term objective of continued evolution from a manufacturing leader to a technology leader, and to rally and sustain the best of our workforce," Foxconn founder and Chairman Terry Gou said in a statement. "We recognize our responsibility as a global leader in electronics manufacturing, and take this responsibility very seriously."

Foxconn manufacturers PCs and electronic devices for Apple, Dell, HP, and other vendors. At least 10 workers at its 250,000-employee factory in Shenzhen have killed themselves by jumping from high floors this year, while several others have attempted suicide.

With concerns raised about working conditions, Apple, Dell, and HP have opened their own investigations, while Sony and Nokia have also begun looking into the situation.

Last week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs asserted that the suicide rate among the factory workers is less than the overall U.S. rate. But he said it's still troubling, needs to be understood, and must be monitored.

Foxconn, which has resisted attempts to scrutinize working conditions at its plants, has downplayed the suicides as work-related. But employees quoted in various stories, including one by BBC News, have spoken of their lives on the factory floor as stressful and lonely.

 

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