A Chinese worker had just heard that her employer, electronics assembly giant Foxconn, was giving employees landmark concession, including shorter working hours (in response to FLA’s recent labor audit report), but Wu Jun’s reaction was worry, not happiness.
Wu, 23, is one of tens of thousands of migrants from the poor countryside who staff the production lines of Foxconn’s plant in Longhua, in southern China, which spits out made-to-order products for Apple Inc and other multinationals.
Foxconn recently made the concessions, which include cutting overtime for its 1.2 million mainland Chinese workers, while promising to increase compensation that would protect them from losing income, which were at the behest of Apple, which has faced recent criticism and media scrutiny for working conditions, and for using low-paid workers to make high-profit gadgets.
At the factory gates, workers remain unconvinced that less hours won’t mean lower pay. For these Chinese workers, the idea of less work for the same pay will take some getting used to.
“We are worried we will have less money to spend. Of course, if we work less overtime, it would mean less money,” said Wu, a 23-year-old employee from Hunan province in south China.
Foxconn has said it will reduce working hours to 49 per week, including overtime.
“We have just been told that we can only work a maximum of 36 hours a month of overtime. I tell you, a lot of us are unhappy with this. We think that 60 hours of overtime a month would be reasonable and that 36 hours would be too little,” said Chen Yamei, 25, a Foxconn worker from Hunan who said she had worked at the factory for four years. Chen said she now earned a bit over 4,000 yuan a month ($634).
Foxconn is one the biggest employers in China. Compared to smaller, mainland-owned factories, workers said, its plants are cleaner and safer, and offer more recreation sites.
Said Huang Hai, a 21-year-old man who works at Foxconn’s factory, “This is a good company to work for because the working conditions are better than a lot of other small factories.”