Apple, FLA, and Foxconn Respond To ABC Report

This past Monday, ABC aired Bill Weir’s expedition to the Foxconn factory in China where the iPad is manufactured [video]. Weir reported some of the rough work conditions that employees at Foxconn are dealing with. However this is considered one of the more prestigious jobs in the country. Since the report was aired, Apple, Foxconn, and the Fair Labor Association has responded.

ABC’s parent company is Disney, whose CEO Bob Iger is on the Apple board of directors. The late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was the largest shareholder at Disney. ABC agreed to doing the report at Foxconn only if they got to report what they saw.

Apple directly responded to Zhou Xiao Ying’s claim that she carves the aluminum shavings from 6,000 iPad logos per day:

“In manufacturing parlance this is called deburring. Her line processes 3,000 units per shift, with two shifts per day for a total of 6,000. A single operator at Ms. Zhou’s station would deburr 3,000 iPads in a shift.”

Apple said that Ying couldn’t have been working a second shift since it would be impossible if she worked 8AM to 8PM, then worked 8PM to 8AM, and then worked her next day’s shift. Ying most likely misunderstood Weir’s question about “how many Apples do you carve each day?”

Foxconn responded to a portion of the program where starting pay was too low for a Chinese payroll tax withdrawal:

“We have over 75 percent of the employees in the category of earning at least 2,200 RMB ($349/month) basic compensation standard. That means they are earning 13.75 RMB ($2.18) per hour. If they work overtime on the weekend, they will earn 27 RMB ($4.28) per hour. In order to reach 3500 to be taxable, they will have to work 47 OT hours to reach 3,500.”

“If the overtime hours are in weekdays, they have to work around 63 hours per month to reach that level of salary to be taxable.”

“Your statement is only true when applying to the entry-level workers while over 75 percent are already over the probation and earning more than 2,200 RMB basic salary.”

Auret van Heerden, the President and CEO of the Fair Labor Association responded to the “five year conversation with Apple”:

“The discussions began in April 2007 but stalled in March 2008. We then resumed them in April 2009 and decided to do a small pilot survey so that Apple could get an idea of how our tools might add value to their program. That pilot led to a second activity that I believe contributed to the decision to join the FLA at the end of 2011. I, of course, cannot speak for Apple but I do believe that the decision to join was probably taken some months before (and therefore well before) the New York Times articles.”

This article was written by Amit Chowdhry. You can follow me at @amitchowdhry or on Google+ at
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