updated 12:05 pm EST, Mon February 6, 2012
Company uses 'men as machines,' person complains
Foxconn treats "men as machines," according to a worker newly interviewed by CNN. The woman is identified an 18-year-old student from a village near the southern city of Chongqing, using the pseudonym "Chen" because she says Foxconn tells workers not to talk to reporters or else "criminal liability shall be investigated according to law." Because she was a college student with no work experience, Chen says she was eager to take a one-month position at Foxconn during the Spring Festival, having been promised things like good benefits and little overtime.
On arriving at a Foxconn factory, though, she discovered that only senior workers get benefits and sick leaves, and she complains that she's also regularly forced to work overtime. "During my first day of work, an older worker said to me, 'Why did you come to Foxconn? Don't ever think about it again and leave right now'," she tells CNN. "Foxconn employees have a saying, 'they use women as men and men as machines.'"
Chen notes that for about three weeks, at 60 hours each, she has been hand-applying over 4,000 stickers per day onto iPads. She says that she's ready to return to college and study hard to avoid going back to Foxconn. "It's so boring, I can't bear it anymore. Everyday is like: I get off from work and I go to bed. I get up in the morning, and I go to work. It is my daily routine and I almost feel like an animal," she comments. She suggests that Foxconn uses people instead of machines because "humans are cheaper."
CNN inquires to Foxconn have yielded only an email statement. "Foxconn takes our responsibility to our employees very seriously and we work hard to give our 1.2 million employees in China a safe and positive working environment and compensation and benefits that are competitive with all of our industry peers in that location," the message reads. Apple has also been pressed for a response, but has issued only a similar statement in return. "We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. 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."
Apple is a major Foxconn customer, and both firms have come under heavy fire in recent weeks after a New York Times report returned the spotlight on poor conditions at Foxconn plants. Both businesses have adopted a defensive stance, with Apple CEO Tim Cook going as far to claim it was "offensive" to suggest Apple didn't care about the suffering of workers. The company recently joined the Fair Labor Association, which may subject suppliers to more regular scrutiny.