Foxconn workers not all pleased with fewer hours

Several workers in Foxconn's factories in China reportedly say that now that they're working fewer hours, they won't be able to make as much money.

Don Reisinger
Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
2 min read
Foxconn employees working on Apple products.
Foxconn employees working on Apple products. Apple

As the Fair Labor Association handed down results from its audit of Foxconn facilities yesterday, the Chinese manufacturer promised reform. But not all employees are so sure those reforms will benefit them.

Speaking to Reuters in interviews published today, a host of workers for Foxconn, which makes gadgets for technology giants ranging from Apple to Hewlett-Packard, said they're concerned the sweeping changes--including cutting hours--will cause them to earn less income.

"We are worried we will have less money to spend," Foxconn worker Wu Jun told Reuters. "Of course, if we work less overtime, it would mean less money."

The Fair Labor Association's (FLA's) audit results showed a host of issues in Foxconn facilities, including employees working far more hours than allowed under the FLA Code standard and Chinese legal limits. The FLA also found that some employees worked more than seven days in a row -- a violation.

For its part, Foxconn said that it would adhere to the FLA's "prescription" and reduce work hours. The company has also said that it would analyze the current financial needs of its employees and "develop a compensation package that addresses the income lost through reduced hours." Higher wages, one would think, would be enough to put the company's workers at ease.

However, according to Reuters, some Foxconn employees aren't so sure the company will follow through on that promise. Many others believe that the new overtime limit of 36 hours just isn't enough.

"We think that 60 hours of overtime a month would be reasonable and that 36 hours would be too little," Foxconn worker Chen Yamei told Reuters.

Chen's statement isn't necessarily surprising, given the FLA's survey of Foxconn workers. The organization found that 48 percent of Foxconn's employees found their workloads reasonable, while more than one-third of respondents said that they'd like to work more hours to make more money. Only 17.7 percent of the workers were interested in working less.

So, what might the future look like for Foxconn's workers? It's tough to say. But at least some people aren't so convinced that major, sweeping changes will be seen across Foxconn facilities.

"Apple's own auditor has now confirmed that Foxconn never corrected the violations in areas like excessive overtime that were first exposed six years ago," Scott Nova, executive director of the Workers Rights Consortium, a labor-rights group, told CNET yesterday. "It seems that the only penalty for Foxconn is the obligation to promise to do better next time."