Over the weekend, Bloomberg posted an exclusive report of Pegatron’s iPhone plant in China. Although Foxconn is Apple’s primary assembler, Apple has moved more of its iPhone assembly contracts to Pegatron in recent years to diversify its supply chain.
The Bloomberg report describes how the factory is managing its workforce, tracking hours via automated systems, and tackling labor issues like overtime. This is the first time Pegatron has allowed official press to photograph the insides of the factory, where 50,000 people work on the floor.
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Employees are clocked in using cameras with face detection and ID badges to unlock turnstiles. They must also pass through metal detectors to check for hidden photography equipment (in an effort to prevent leaks of unreleased Apple products, like the next iPhone).
According to the report, workers line up for roll call at 9:20 AM and begin assembling phones on the factory conveyor belt just six minutes later.
The automated check-in procedures try to stop workers from taking excessive overtime hours, in accordance with Apple’s regulations for suppliers. In October, an external watchdog claimed the majority of Pegatron’s workforce worked more than 60 hours a week.
Allowing a report inside is a clear sign Pegatron and Apple are trying to quell such claims and show that they are being proactive in enforcing good working standards. The ID badges are connected to central company databases that track time, wages and lunch expenses. Employees can also access payroll freely to check hours, income and expenses.
One improvement Pegatron executives were eager to share was increased income transparency. Employees can now check their hours, pay stubs, and monthly lodging and food expenses at touchscreen terminals throughout the campus. Including overtime, take-home pay averages 4,200 yuan to 5,500 yuan ($650-$850) a month. One employee, who helped workers access the automated information stations, showed her base salary was 2,020 yuan. An iPhone 6 in China costs 4,488 yuan.
“What do workers care about the most? They want to know about the money they earned,” Sheu said. Deciding to open up payroll was difficult, Big John said, because of how employees might react, and how it would push management to be more accountable.
Not all employees are thrilled with Pegatron’s compliance though. One worker interviewed by Bloomberg said many employees prefer overtime as normal rate wages are low. However, the new enforcement policies have made taking excess overtime impossible so workers are unable to make additional income.
The story concludes by looking forward, indicating that factory owners are moving towards employee retention as a key priority as wages rise in general. Newer campuses provide Wi-Fi and other amenities as standard to keep employees onboard. Such bonuses appear to be working: retention at Pegatron has increased 20% over the last three years. Read Bloomberg’s full report here.