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Entries in Foxconn (10)

Tuesday
Oct162012

Underage Workers Found at Foxconn Factory in China

Karson Yiu/ABC News(BEIJING) -- Foxconn Technology Group, the company that manufactures Apple’s iPhone, has confirmed reports that underage employees as young as 14 years old have been found working as interns at a factory site in China.

The company says the discovery was made during an internal investigation at its factory in Yantai.

"Our investigation has shown that the interns in question, who ranged in age from 14 to 16, had worked in that campus for approximately three weeks," Foxconn said in a statement.  The company did not mention how many underage interns were found.

The workers were part of a government-sponsored internship program for students who are at least 16 years old -- the minimum age for employment in China.  They have since been sent back to their schools.

Foxconn, which is owned by Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., says it has launched a full investigation into the matter.

"We recognize that full responsibility for these violations rests with our company and we have apologized to each of the students for our role in this action.   Furthermore, any Foxconn employee found, through our investigation, to be responsible for these violations will have their employment immediately terminated," the company said.

Foxconn is a major supplier of electronic components to large U.S. companies, including Apple and Microsoft.  While it did not specify which products were produced in the Yantai factory, the company said the "facility has no association with any work we carry out on behalf of Apple."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep242012

Foxconn Closes Factory After Massive Brawl

Karson Yiu/ABC News(BEIJING) -- Foxconn Technology Group, owned by Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., suspended production at one of its largest factories in northern China on Monday following a violent incident involving 2,000 workers.

Foxconn, a major supplier of electronic components to large U.S. companies including Apple and Microsoft, made a statement on the closing Sunday night:

“A personal dispute between several employees escalated into an incident involving 2,000 workers at approximately 11 p.m. last night in a privately managed dormitory near our manufacturing facility in Taiyuan in Shanxi province.”

Unconfirmed video online shows crowds, several hundred strong, in the streets, overturned cars and smashed windows.  China’s Xinhua News Agency reported that 5,000 police were dispatched to control the crowd. The video also shows large buses broadcasting via loudspeaker what appear to be messages to control the rioters.

Foxconn reported that at least 40 employees were sent to the hospital and a “number” of individuals were arrested after police arrived on the scene.  Social media postings suggest some members of the crowd may have inadvertently been critically injured when the crowd got out of control.

The Taiyuan factory employs approximately 79,000 workers.  It was recently the subject of an undercover report by the Chinese publication China Story.  According to the article, the facility produces a part of the casing for the iPhone 5 and employees are told they should feel “honor” for doing so.

But the same factory has come under criticism for poor labor practices, low wages and compulsory overtime.  Hong Kong media reported a similar incident of protest during a strike over a pay dispute last March.

After a string of suicides by Foxconn employees last year, the company has made an effort to improve working conditions.  Apple has been working in conjunction with Foxconn to achieve that.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug212012

Apple and Foxconn Make Progress on Working Conditions at Factories

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Fair Labor Association (FLA) says conditions are improving for the Chinese workers who assemble iPad and iPhones for Apple. Back in March, the FLA released a report on the poor conditions at Apple’s Foxconn supplier. The organization gave a long list of recommendations to Apple and Foxconn, and both Apple and Foxconn agreed to follow them.

Now, five months later, the FLA says that Foxconn has completed 280 action items on time or ahead of schedule.

“Our verification shows that the necessary changes, including immediate health and safety measures, have been made,” Auret van Heerden, president and CEO of the Fair Labor Association, said in a statement. “We are satisfied that Apple has done its due diligence thus far to hold Foxconn accountable for complying with the action plan, including the commitment to reform its internship program.”

Apple and Foxconn made a number of physical changes in the last few months to improve worker safety, including more testing of equipment and changes to prevent repetitive stress injuries. A detailed report of the improvements is posted on the FLA website.

Foxconn also took steps to improve working hours, but it still has not reached the final goal. By July 1, 2013, Foxconn has promised to reduce worker hours to the legal limit of 49 hours per week and stabilize pay. Foxconn has already reduced the workload to under 60 hours per week.

“The next phase of improvements will be challenging for Foxconn because they involve major changes in the working environment that will inevitably cause uncertainty and anxiety among workers,” van Heerden said. Making changes to the working hours are among the 76 remaining action items that Foxconn has to accomplish before next July.

Apple was reported to have become history’s most valuable company Monday, though the numbers did not account for inflation.  It has sold approximately 37 million iPhones and 15.4 million iPads in the last three months of last year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May102012

Apple to Help Pay Costs of Improving Foxconn Factories

Karson Yiu/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Apple and Foxconn will reportedly share the costs to make the sweeping changes to China factories and assembly lines. Previously, Apple's Foxconn supplier in China promised to reduce workers' hours and increase their pay in response to the Fair Labor Association's (FLA) audit of the company.

Foxconn CEO Terry Gou told reporters in China that Apple "sees this as a competitive strength along with us, and so we will split the initial costs."

In response to the FLA report in March, Foxconn agreed to comply with FLA standards, which included better hours and more stable pay for workers. In order to comply, Foxconn agreed to increase the numbers of workers to maintain the same level of output and not lower the income of workers because of the reduced overtime.

Foxconn also raised wages of workers by 25 percent in Febuary. Still, workers told the FLA that the wages still didn't meet their basic needs. Subsequently, Foxconn promised to conduct a cost-of-living audit in locations near the factories. Additionally, Foxconn agreed to pay any worker retroactively who hadn't received overtime wages they were rightly owed.

No details were given on how Apple and Foxconn might split the cost. Apple already financially contributes to bettering the environment at Foxconn, amongst its contributions is the Supplier Employee Education and Development (SEED) program, which aims to educate workers on local laws, their rights, and health and safety.

Apple wouldn't comment further today to ABC News on Gou's statements.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar292012

Apple Probe: Changes Promised for Chinese Workers

Karson Yiu/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The Fair Labor Association (FLA) has released the results of its independent investigation of Apple's Foxconn supplier based in China, and has found "serious and pressing noncompliances" with its Workplace Code of Conduct and Chinese labor law, with forced overtime as the top concern. As a result, Foxconn is vowing to lower overtime hours without lowering pay, a move that could raise the cost not just of Apple products, but all electronics.

"Social responsibility has a cost. We are asking factories to make significant investment. We all have to be willing to share that cost," Auret van Heerden, the president and CEO of the Fair Labor Association, told ABC News’ Bill Weir in an exclusive interview.

After a month-long investigation, which included interviews with 35,000 randomly selected Foxconn workers and in-depth surveys of all of Apple's production lines, the FLA has concluded that there are excessive overtime and overtime compensation issues and health and safety risks within the Chinese factories that make popular Apple products, including iPhones, iPads, and MacBook laptops. "We found over 50 findings which represents a risk," van Heerden said.

The report focuses on four main violations: workers' health and safety, worker integration, wages, and working hours. Workers' hours and overtime payment issues are the main focus of the 13-page report. Within the last 12 months, at all three of Apple's Foxconn factories -- Guanian, Longhua, and Chengdu -- the average employee worked over 60 hours per week, the FLA found. The legal limit is 49 hours per week, including overtime.

"There were periods during which some employees worked more than seven days in a row without the required minimum 24 hours break," the report says.

It was also discovered that 14 percent of workers did not receive compensation to which they were entitled for overtime. Unscheduled overtime is only paid in 30-minute increments, meaning that if someone works 29 minutes they will not be paid.

Along with the findings are recommended remedies. Foxconn has vowed to comply with the Chinese legal limits and the FLA standards; by July 1, 2013 the factory has promised to reduce worker hours and stabilize pay.

But to do that, the report said, it will need to increase the number of workers to maintain the same level of production output. While employees will be working less, Foxconn promised it will ensure that workers do not lose income due to the reduced overtime.

Foxconn recently raised the wages of workers by 25 percent, but workers told the FLA survey that the wages still don't meet their basic needs. A cost of living audit in the locations of the factories will be conducted.

Additionally, Apple and Foxconn have agreed to pay any worker retroactively who hasn't received the correct overtime wages. Another audit is being conducted now to determine that amount.

"In the next year, tens of thousands of extra workers will need to be recruited, trained, and accommodated at the same time as hours worked are progressively reduced per worker," the report says.

Van Heerden implied this could affect either the number of products Apple can ship or the price. "We have to be ready to put our money where our mouths are," he added. Apple recently recorded record sales of its new iPad; three million were sold in their first weekend on the market.

This audit was partly prompted by two explosions at two factories in Chengdu last year, in which 77 workers were injured and four were killed. Workers reported that they are worried about their safety and health, especially after the explosions.

With over 43 percent of workers reporting that they have experienced or seen an accident, Foxconn said it is now committing to more closely monitoring health and safety issues. A number of health and safety violations, including blocked exits and protective equipment, have already been remedied.

Foxconn said it is also taking steps to bring workers into the conversation. It has agreed to "enhance workers' participation in committees and other union structures," says the report.

In line with what ABC News' Nightline exclusively reported in February, the FLA report says that no issues of child labor, forced labor or payment of the legal minimum wage were discovered at the factories. The FLA said it had "unfettered access" within the factories.

Apple's promises are not detailed directly in the report, but in a statement the company states that it will comply with the FLA's recommendations. "Our team has been working for years to educate workers, improve conditions and make Apple's supply chain a model for the industry, which is why we asked the FLA to conduct these audits. We share the FLA's goal of improving lives and raising the bar for manufacturing companies everywhere," an Apple spokesperson told ABC News.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been in China all week, meeting with local business as well as visiting Foxconn. Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs never visited China or Foxconn when he was CEO of the company.

Van Heerden said he is confident that Foxconn will make the changes recommended in the report. "I know they will do this because we will monitor it. And they have made this commitment publicly now. It is such a high profile and major commitment, there is no way they wouldn't do it."

The full text of the report can be found on the Fair Labor Association's website.

Full disclosure: Apple and the Walt Disney Company, the parent company of ABC News, have strong ties. Disney CEO Bob Iger serves on the Apple Board of Directors.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar162012

‘This American Life’ Retracts Apple Critic’s Foxconn Tale

Almin Karamehmedovic/ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Public Radio International’s show This American Life announced Friday it will retract one of the most popular episodes in the show’s history after finding numerous falsehoods in a monologue by prominent Apple critic, Mike Daisey.

In 2010, Daisey launched an one-man show called “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.” In it, Daisey, a self-proclaimed Apple fanatic, described a dramatic journey to Shenzhen, China to better understand working conditions at the computer giant’s top manufacturer, Foxconn. While standing outside the factory gates, he claimed to have met several Foxconn workers who described horrific tales of abuse. He said he spoke with a 13-year-old who spent her days cleaning iPhone screens, a group poisoned by toxic cleaning chemicals and a man whose hand was mangled building iPads.

After a 39-minute excerpt of Daisey’s show was featured on This American Life in January, the podcast was downloaded a record 880,000 times. A listener named Mark Shields said he was so moved that he launched a petition drive calling for Apple to build the first “ethical” iPhone. Over 250,000 people signed and protests were planned at Apple stores around the world.

But according to a press release, NPR Marketplace reporter Rob Schmitz tracked down Daisey’s Chinese interpreter, a pivotal character in the monologue, and she said the most dramatic details of Daisey’s story never happened.

Back in January, when This American Life fact-checkers asked Daisey for the interpreter’s contact information, he told them he had no way to reach her.

“At that point, we should’ve killed the story,” said Ira Glass, executive producer and host of This American Life, in a release. “But other things Daisey told us about Apple’s operations in China checked out, and we saw no reason to doubt him. We didn’t think that he was lying to us and to audiences about the details of his story. That was a mistake.”

“I’m not going to say that I didn’t take a few shortcuts in my passion to be heard,” Daisey told Glass and Schmitz when they confronted him with their findings. “My mistake, the mistake I truly regret, is that I had it on your show as journalism, and it’s not journalism. It’s theater.”

On his website, Daisey writes, “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.”

Last month, ABC’s Nightline was allowed unprecedented access into Apple’s Foxconn factories, as the Fair Labor Association conducted the first-ever external audit of working conditions. The results of that audit are expected in coming days.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar072012

Apple Unveils New iPad with Higher Definition Display

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images(CUPERTINO, Calif.) -- Apple announced its new iPad on Wednesday -- a powerful updated model with a new processor and a high-definition display.

The new "Retina Display" screen has 2048 x 1536 resolution, which is higher than that found on any other tablet on the market. The result, said Apple, will be much crisper pictures and video. After weeks of rumors that it might be called the "iPad 3" or "iPad HD," Apple only referred to it as "the new iPad" at Wednesday's rollout in San Francisco.

Apple senior vice president of marketing, Philip W. Schiller, touted the new screen on stage. "You are going to see sharper images," he said. "Photos are just going to look amazing."

On the outside, the new iPad looks very similar to the tablet Apple has been selling for more than a year. But with an A5x processor and quad-core graphics, Apple said images would have 44 percent greater "saturation" than one sees on the previous model. There will be 3.1 million pixels on the screen, or 264 per inch.

The new tablet will have 10 hours of battery life, Schiller said, nine hours when receiving 4G signals. It will be all of 9.5 mm thick.

Schiller said the new iPad would have a more powerful "iSight" camera built in, similar in resolution to the 8 megapixel camera in the iPhone 4S. The camera, he said, can capture 1080p video. It also has image stabilization.

Apple has also added 4G LTE capabilities from Verizon and AT&T, meaning those who opt for the 3G / 4G models will get faster browsing and Internet speeds. This is the first time Apple has decided to integrate LTE into one of its products. The base model, which will start at $499, will have 16GB of memory and only Wi-Fi connectivity.

Apple said it would start taking pre-orders for the new iPad in 10 countries on Wednesday, and it will be available March 16. A version with 64GB of memory will retail for $699.

Presiding over the announcement was Tim Cook, Apple's new CEO and founder Steve Jobs' chosen successor. "You are going to see a lot more of this kind of innovation. We are just getting started.” Cook said.

Among other features, the new tablet will take dictation. Speak into a microphone, Apple said, and your words will be transcribed on the screen.

The new iPad announcement comes as the company faces stiff scrutiny over how its products are made in China. Following reports of underage labor and unsafe working conditions, the Fair Labor Association will submit a report on Apple's Foxconn production lines this month. ABC News got an exclusive look inside Apple's production line last month.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb232012

Apple, Foxconn Respond to ABC News' Report on Working Conditions

Almin Karamehmedovic/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- ABC News’ Bill Weir exclusively reported earlier this week on the conditions inside Apple’s main Chinese manufacturer -- Foxconn.

For the first time ever, Apple allowed a journalist onto its production line and to witness the labor conditions inside Foxconn, which have sometimes been reported to be unfair and unsafe.  Tuesday night’s special edition of Nightline expanded upon that original report, and included footage from inside the factory, interviews with the workers and even a visit to a local village.

Since ABC News’ original report, Apple, Foxconn and the Fair Labor Association have sent statements explaining a few sentences in the original report. The text of those statements are below.

For the record, Apple and the Disney Corporation, ABC’s parent company, have strong ties. Disney CEO Bob Iger serves on the Apple Board of Directors and the Steve Jobs Trust is Disney’s largest shareholder. ABC agreed to report exactly what it saw at Foxconn.

From Apple, regarding Zhou Xiao Ying’s claim that she carves the aluminum shavings from 6,000 iPad logos per day:

“In manufacturing parlance this is called deburring.  Her line processes 3,000 units per shift, with two shifts per day for a total of 6,000.  A single operator at Ms. Zhou’s station would deburr 3,000 iPads in a shift.”

Apple clarified that Zhou Xiao Ying couldn’t have been working a second shift since it would be impossible if she worked 8AM to 8PM, then worked 8PM to 8AM, and then worked her next day’s shift.  Ying likely misunderstood Weir’s question about, “how many Apples do you carve each day?”

From Foxconn, regarding starting pay being too low for a Chinese payroll tax withdrawal:

“We have over 75 percent of the employees in the category of earning at least 2,200 RMB ($349/month) basic compensation standard.  That means they are earning 13.75 RMB ($2.18) per hour.  If they work overtime on the weekend, they will earn 27 RMB ($4.28) per hour. In order to reach 3500 to be taxable, they will have to work 47 OT hours to reach 3,500.”

“If the overtime hours are in weekdays, they have to work around 63 hours per month to reach that level of salary to be taxable.”

“Your statement is only true when applying to the entry-level workers while over 75 percent are already over the probation and earning more than 2,200 RMB basic salary.”

From the Auret van Heerden, President and CEO of the Fair Labor Association, regarding the “five year conversation” with Apple:

“The discussions began in April 2007 but stalled in March 2008.  We then resumed them in April 2009 and decided to do a small pilot survey so that Apple could get an idea of how our tools might add value to their program.  That pilot led to a second activity that I believe contributed to the decision to join the FLA at the end of 2011.  I, of course, cannot speak for Apple but I do believe that the decision to join was probably taken some months before (and therefore well before) the New York Times articles.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb202012

A Rare Look into Where Apple Products are Made

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images(SHENZHEN, China) -- Ever wondered where your Apple products are made? Nightline anchor Bill Weir visited a Apple factories in China.

In recent months, the fond memorials for Steve Jobs and the company's record-breaking profits have been tarnished by some of the worst press in Apple's history, most of it related to its top Chinese supplier, Foxconn.

Just after a horrific rash of worker suicides at the Foxconn factory complex outside of Hong Kong in 2010, a monologist named Mike Daisey launched a one-man show called The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. He described travelling to the gates of Foxconn and meeting people coming off 13-15 hour shifts on the Apple lines. He described a 13-year-old who spent her days cleaning iPhone screens.

Daisey's show was featured on NPR's This American Life in January and a listener named Mark Shields was so moved, he launched a petition drive online. Over 250,000 Apple users called on the company to build the first "ethical" iPhone, and protests were planned at Apple stores around the world.

In a three-golf-cart convoy, both Apple and Foxconn reps took Weir around to a half dozen production lines in Shenzhen and Chengdu, and there were always five to six people with them as they toured the factories and dorms. But aside from suggesting a visit to the counseling center or canteen, they never steered them to interviews and never interrupted.

This is some of what they saw.

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See it yourself on Tuesday's Nightline.

Adam Lashinsky of Fortune magazine and author of the new book Inside Apple, spoke with ABC New Radio's Richard Davies about Apple's image problem. He said the company operated in secrecy before Job's death but now they face several challenges including resurrecting its image.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb092012

An Ethical iPhone: Protesters Rally at Apple Stores

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Protesters rallied at the Apple store in Washington, D.C., Thursday to deliver roughly 250,000 signatures in a demonstration calling for an end to unethical manufacturing practices at the tech giant’s factories in China.

The protest was one of six being held in cities around the world inspired by Mark Shields -- a consultant from Washington, D.C. -- who launched a petition on change.org in January. Shields is a self-described Apple user who became mobilized after hearing reports of poor working conditions at factories run by Foxconn, one of Apple’s biggest suppliers.  

According to a New York Times investigation, Foxconn’s Chinese workers are subjected to poor conditions at the company’s factories. Reports claim that there have been multiple attempted suicides at its plants, including recently when 150 workers threatened to jump from a roof following a dispute about pay. Other charges against Foxconn include unfair wages and hazardous working conditions.

Shields’ demonstration included a small group of signatories and representatives from sumofus.org, another organization which has been collecting signatures to encourage Apple to make the iPhone5 the first ethically manufactured Apple product. Change.org’s petition demands that Apple announces “a worker protection strategy for new product releases, which are the instances when injuries and suicides typically spike because of the incredible pressure to meet quotas timed to releases.”

“We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain,” Apple said in a statement to ABC News. “We insist that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made. Our suppliers must live up to these requirements if they want to keep doing business with Apple.

“Every year Apple inspects more factories, going deeper into the supply chain and raising the bar for our suppliers. In 2011 we conducted 229 audits at supplier facilities around the world and reported their progress on apple.com. Last month, Apple became the first technology company admitted to the Fair Labor Association, a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving conditions for workers around the world. The FLA's auditing team will have direct access to our supply chain and they will report their findings independently on their website,” the statement from Apple said.

Protests were also held at Apple stores in New York, San Francisco, London, Sydney and Bangalore, India on Thursday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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