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Embattled Foxconn raises wage slaves' salaries

Double that of three years ago

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China's Foxconn contract-manufacturing group, which for years has come under fire for alleged workforce abuses, has responded in part by giving its workers raises of from 16 to 25 per cent.

According to a Bloomberg report, the raises kicked in on February 1 – just one week after a scathing article in The New York Times wrote of the dangers and degradations of working and living in the company's sprawling factory and dormitory complexes.

The entry-level pay for workers building a slew of consumer electronics products for Apple, Sony, Nokia, Dell, and others is now set at 1,800 yuan ($285, £180) per month – which may not sound like much, but it's double the 900 yuan that Foxconn workers received just three years ago. This is the third time that Foxconn has raised workers' salaries since 2010, says the report.

Bloomberg received news of the raise in an email from the notoriously secretive manufacturer, which also noted that workers who have passed technical examinations will now receive a princely 2,200 yuan ($350, £220) per month.

Foxconn also told Bloomberg that the base salary for their entry-level employees is substantially higher than the minimum wage in their factory's localities – and from what your Reg reporter knows of Chinese factory compensation, that claim is likely accurate.

It's not immediately clear how much this raise will increase the piddling $8-per-iPad pay that Foxconn workers reportedly receive for their labors, nor is it clear how – if at all – it might affect the Fair Labor Association inspection that has begun at the factories, or calm the 250,000 signers of petitions demanding that Apple better protect its suppliers' employees.

Nor is it clear whether the renewed visibility of difficult working conditions at Foxconn – or, for that matter, in the rest of the supply chain – will incite outrage at any consumer electronics company other than Apple that employs contract manufacturers in Asia and elsewhere.

If Foxconn's email to Bloomberg is accurate, though, there is one thing for certain: a few more yuan are finding their way into the pockets of Foxconn's one million workers. And even a marginally thicker pay envelope is better than no pay envelope at all – if you can live to enjoy it. ®

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