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Foxconn fires back at abuse allegations

'Caged' workers find powerful protector?

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Foxconn, the Taiwan-headquartered manufacturer of products for Apple, Sony, HP and a host of others, "strongly and categorically rejects" recent — and not-so-recent — accusations of worker mistreatment. The company's arguments, however, may be motivated by more than a pure desire to set the record straight.

"Foxconn is certainly not perfect," reads an email sent by Foxconn to The Reg after our recent report on a leaked study that details company abuses, "but we take our responsibility to our employees very seriously and we are committed to giving each and every one of our more than 937,000 employees in China a safe and positive working environment and compensation and benefits that are competitive with all of our industry peers."

Foxconn's lengthy email — which you can read in full here (PDF) — specifically rebuts four charges made by the leaked study, which was conducted by a group of academics and students, and based on reports by 14 investigators who, according to the Beijing-based, government-affiliated Global Times, were able to "enter the company and experience 'life inside Foxconn' themselves."

Minimum Wage Increases

After a recent spate of suicides at the company's plant in Shenzhen, China, Foxconn reportedly began a program to raise workers' wages. The leaked report, however, as reported by the Global Times, noted that although raises were announced to be in the 30 per cent range, "employees saw a rise no higher than 9.1 percent and were deprived of many of their welfare terms like subsidies, bonuses and so on."

Foxconn disputes this allegation, saying that employees will receive their raises in their paycheck for the month of October, "due to be received in the first week of November."

"In the case of Shenzhen, where more than 500,000 of our employees work," the email states, "the minimum wage has been significantly increased to RMB 2,000 per month [$300, £190] and this is in addition to benefits including free or subsidized housing and meals, medical coverage, and other government required insurance and trust funds. Contrary to the allegations included in some media reports, these wage increases have not included any reduction or elimination of any benefits or payments."

Overtime

Foxconn's email devotes significant ink to detailing its overtime policies, despite the fact that the leaked report, as reported by the Global Times, makes no specific allegations of overtime abuse other than noting that although interns can legally work only eight-hour shifts, "at some of [Foxconn's] plants, the interns have a workload of over 10 hours with some even being forced to work night shifts."

"All overtime is voluntary," Foxconn contends, "and all overtime is compensated in compliance with Chinese government law."

Noting that guidelines set by the global Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) call for no more than a total of 60 hours per week including overtime, Foxconn reports that average monthly overtime "for employees volunteering for such work" was 57.3 hours for June, 58.5 hours for July, 59.7 hours for August, and 63.1 hours for September. It notes that the overage in September was "to compensate for the Mid-Autumn Festival."

The company also claims that "Workers are paid 1.5 times the basic salary when working overtime on weekdays and 2 times the basic salary when working overtime on weekends and 3 times the basic salary when working overtime on national holidays."

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