When a series of workers took their lives at Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics contract manufacturer, earlier this year, they triggered fierce debate about labour conditions in China.
Half a year down the road, many things have changed at Foxconn: the company gave many workers at its largest plant in Shenzhen a drastic wage rise, it is relocating much of its production to cheaper locations inland, and it is handing responsibility for housing and feeding its workers to the local governments. But nothing at all has changed with regard to workers’ rights, as a statement from the country’s government-backed trade union shows.
Guo Jun, an official at the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), said at a conference on Wednesday that Foxconn was violating the labour law by having its workers do massive overtime.
“Working more than 100 hours overtime every month, is that not illegal? If that doesn’t count as illegal just because you have negotiated it with your staff, then nothing will ever be illegal,” he said according to state media.
However, ACFTU, the only body sanctioned to safeguard workers’ rights in China, is just as clear about the fact that it is not going to do anything about it.
“If there are problems, the company has to deal with them itself, ACFTU is not asking them to change,” Guo told beyondbrics on Thursday.
“With such a low-end business model, compared with Apple, of course they are not capable of shouldering more corporate social responsibility,” Guo said.
He added that if the company made unreasonable demands on its workers, the workers were free to reject those; and if there were problems with violations of the labour law, Foxconn’s own labour union was free to raise these issues.
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