John Paczkowski

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Fair Labor Association Wins Some OT Relief for Apple’s Foxconn Workers

Bowen Liu / Apple

After an investigation, at Apple’s request, of the working conditions at the plants of Chinese supplier Foxconn, the Fair Labor Association today reported both problems and steps toward solving them.

While the probe found several health and safety risks, and a large communications gap between management and the workforce, the biggest concerns dealt with overtime, both the amount and the compensation. Evidently a number of Foxconn employees were not being paid enough for unscheduled overtime. From the report:

During peak production, the average number of hours worked per week at Foxconn factories exceeded both the FLA Code standard and Chinese legal limits. This was true in all three factories. Further, there were periods during which some employees worked more than seven days in a row without the required minimum 24-hour break. The root causes include high labor turnover, which undermines efficiency, and gaps in production and capacity planning.

… FLA also discovered that 14 percent of workers may not receive fair compensation for unscheduled overtime. The assessment found that unscheduled overtime was only paid in 30-minute increments. This means, for example, that 29 minutes of overtime work results in no pay and 58 minutes results in only one unit of overtime pay.

A troubling finding to be sure, but the FLA was able to win from Foxconn an agreement to restructure its compensation plan to protect pay while bringing overtime down.

“Foxconn committed to pay workers fairly for all overtime as well as work-related meetings outside of regular working hours,” the FLA explained. “In addition, FLA secured agreement from Foxconn and Apple to retroactively pay any worker due unpaid overtime. The companies are currently conducting an audit to determine the payments due to workers.”

So, a good outcome. And Apple pronounced itself pleased with the report.

“We appreciate the work the FLA has done to assess conditions at Foxconn, and we fully support their recommendations,” Apple spokesman Steve Dowling told AllThingsD. “We think empowering workers and helping them understand their rights is essential. 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.”

Foxconn, too, said it was pleased the FLA’s work.

“We are committed to work with Apple to carry out the remediation program, developed by both our companies, that has been presented along with the FLA audit findings and we will continue to support Apple’s initiatives to ensure that its business partners are in compliance with all relevant China laws and regulations and the FLA’s Workplace Code of Conduct,” Foxconn said in a statement to AllThingsD. “Our success will be judged by future FLA audits and the monitoring of the implementation of the remediation program, by reviews carried out by Apple and other customers and by future employee surveys. Our employees are our greatest asset and we are fully committed to ensuring that they have a safe, satisfactory and healthy working environment.”


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