As supply meets demand, iPad Line workers get more days off, but are they happy?

With all the controversy surrounding Apple’s supply chains abroad, Foxconn, one of Apple’s biggest partners responsible for assembling the majority of its products, has received the brunt of criticisms. We already know what the Taipei-based assembler thought about Mike Daisey’s fabrications of working conditions at Foxconn plants, but today we get another first hand account from an actual Foxconn employee.

A report from China Business News (via MIC Gadget) profiled Foxconn worker and iPad assembler Wang Xiaoqiao (who opted to hide his real name). According to Wang, iPad line workers are beginning to work fewer hours and get more days off as supply meets demand. Wang said iPad production was ramped up in March, bringing assembly time from 10 hours a day down to 8 hours. However, he is not happy about working less. Wang explained:

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Foxconn spokesman: ‘I am happy that the truth prevails, I am glad that Mike Daisey’s lies were exposed.’

Foxconn seems to be happy about the news late last week that Mike Daisy’s monologue about his Foxconn ‘findings’ was mostly fabricated from news reports.

In a statement to Businessweek, Louis Woo, spokesman for Taipei-based Foxconn said:

“I am happy that the truth prevails, I am glad that Mike Daisey’s lies were exposed. But I don’t think that the reports about this have gone far enough to find out what exactly is the truth. People will have the impression that Foxconn is a bad company, so I hope they will come and find out for themselves,”

Daisey was exposed via an NPR reporter that contacted his translator Cathey Lee who denied just about every part of Daisey’s story. Daisey, for his part, responded:

I stand by my work. My show is a theatrical piece whose goal is to create a human connection between our gorgeous devices and the brutal circumstances from which they emerge. It uses a combination of fact, memoir, and dramatic license to tell its story, and I believe it does so with integrity. Certainly, the comprehensive investigations undertaken by The New York Times and a number of labor rights groups to document conditions in electronics manufacturing would seem to bear this out.

Daisey has been forced to stop his show but did receive a standing ovation following its last performance this weekend.

Critics of Foxconn say that they aren’t off the hook.

Update: Daisy has a new blog post out with this: Read more

Foxconn reportedly hid teenage workers from inspectors, Daisey’s monologue available as royalty-free download

As the Fair Labor Association inspectors interview Foxconn employees about working conditions at iPad plants, early reports coming our way are a bit ambiguous and a tad confusing. First FLA president told Reuters that plant floors are spotless, then Bloomberg published an article claiming the organization found “tons of issues,” and finally those two video teasers (here and here) from ABC Nightline’s ‘iFactory’ documentary added ambiguity as the producers apparently “didn’t find any egregious violations.”

Knowing ABC’s parent company Disney has the Steve Jobs Trust as its largest shareholder, and considering that FLA is funded by the biggest players in the industry, including Apple who commissioned the Foxconn inspection that began last week, some watchers are speculating there must be more to this than meets the eye. Read on…
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Group plans disruptive protest tomorrow at Apple’s Grand Central Store over Foxconn conditions

Consumer groups SumOfUs and Change.org are waging a war over the working conditions at Apple’s (and the rest of the electronics industry’s) main outsourced manufacturer Foxconn. The groups said that over 35,000 people signed their “Stop Worker Abuse” online petition in just 24 hours. Today, the groups announced they would deliver a quarter million petition signatures to Apple.

Furthermore, a protest will be staged tomorrow at 10 a.m. outside Apple’s new Grand Central Terminal retail store and representatives from both SumOfUs and Change.org promised to join the protesters. Change.org’s Mark Shields called abusive working conditions at Foxconn factories “appalling,” adding he was shocked to learn about them.

The two consumer groups are demanding that the iPhone maker release a worker protection strategy for new product releases because these are the instances “when injuries and suicides typically spike because of the incredible pressure to meet quotas timed to releases.” They are also pressuring Apple to publish the results of Fair Labor Association’s audit (to which the company willfully agreed): “Including the NAMES of the suppliers found to have violations and WHAT those violations are, so that there is transparency around the monitoring effort.” The petition (found here) opens with an interesting paragraph:

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Foxconn issues go mainstream thanks to This American Life and The Daily Show

Earlier this week, Apple pledged to let the Fair Labor Association access its suppliers’ facilities to monitor working conditions. Even though Apple is the first technology company admitted to the FLA, the snowballing issue of harsh conditions at Far East plants will not go away with the announcement. Quite the contrary, the problem has escalated and gone mainstream, with both The Daily Show and This American Life focusing on the grim reality of earning a living at Foxconn-operated sweatshops in China.

Jon Stewart, The Daily Show host and chief satirist, remarked in an episode yesterday:

By creating a convenient ecosystem, China’s Foxconn draws in employees who earn 31 cents an hour working for 35 hours straight, thereby saving American companies money.

As you know, Foxconn (also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry) is Apple’s favorite contract manufacturer, it but also produces gadgets for Amazon, Microsoft, HP, Dell and a variety of other brands. With that said, both shows tackle larger issues that affect just about every electronics manufacturer. The last week’s episode of This American Life, the popular radio program, weighed in as well. You can listen to their free audio stream here.

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