Reform at Foxconn after violations found

FOXCONN will cut working hours and increase wages in its China-based plants after independent auditors found widespread problems in the company’s workplaces.

At Apple’s behest, Fair Labor Association inspected Foxconn’s facilities and surveyed more than 35,000 employees. It used techniques to bypass any attempts by the company to prepare its workers with fixed answers to given questions.

It reported 43 violations of Chinese laws and regulations. It also found Foxconn allowed employees to work more than 60 hours a week, and up to 11 days in a row.

According to the Association, 43 percent of workers it surveyed had experienced or witnessed accidents, two-thirds said their compensation do not meet basic needs, and that unions do not represent workers properly. Many workers felt they worked in a dangerous place.

Apple’s pressure on Foxconn and other manufacturers of its products came on the back of advocacy by various action groups following high-profile suicides and other accusations of poor working conditions at the Taiwanese-owned company’s Chinese factories. In January, Apple unveiled the names of 156 of its suppliers, and posted monitoring reports on worker conditions.

Foxconn manufactures over 40 percent of the world’s electronics products, including the iPhone and iPad for Apple, as well as Amazon, Dell and Hewlett-Packard. It employs 1.2 million workers.

In preliminary statements Foxconn has said that it will keep employees working under 49 hours a week, which is the limit set by laws in China. It has also said that the reduced hours will not result in reduced wages.

The full details of the intended wage and working hour reforms have yet to be unveiled, but given the size of the company, analysts expect these changes to have impacts on working conditions in other companies and sectors in China.

It will also have impacts down the supply chain, with consumer electronics like smartphones and tablets likely to be more expensive for consumers, if Apple and other brands pass on the increased cost instead of absorbing them.