updated 11:00 am EDT, Fri August 20, 2010
Continues efforts to improve conditions
Taiwanese manufacturer Hon Hai, better known as Foxconn, is now more directly addressing the problems with working conditions at its plants, a Wall Street Journal report suggests. The company has been accused of maintaining a sweatshop-like environment driving people to suicide, in which people work virtually non-stop for little pay. The new measures include a reduction in overtime hours, and an increase in "entertainment" time for staff.
Earlier this week, for example, the company held a rally with tens of thousands of workers, who sang and danced under the official theme of "treasure your life, love your family and care for each other." Louis Woo, a special assistant to Hon Hai chairman Terry Guo, claims that the company has been "caught by surprise" in terms of the makeup of its workforce. Of the 470,000-plus people working in facilities in Shenzhen, China, Woo notes, 75 percent are between the ages of 18 and 24. People born after the 1980s allegedly have different priorities, namely emotional satisfaction and entertainment.
"Unlike the previous generation of workers that regarded work and basic necessities as top priorities in life, post '80s workers don't work just for money," says Woo. "The new generation of workers is changing China and Hon Hai is changing to meet this new reality." Other steps taken to alleivate suffering in recent months have included increased pay, and building new factories closer to workers' homes.
Foxconn is the world's largest electronics manufacturer, one of its most prominent clients being Apple. Major products assembled by the company include iPhones and iPads.