Foxconn Threatens Legal Action over ‘iPod City’ Sweatshop Claims

Foxconn Electronics, the contractor behind the now notorious Mail on Sunday story about poor working conditions in an iPod factory, has denied claims made in the report.

Describing the article as a ‘vicious attack’, Foxconn Electronics spokesman, Edmund Ding, told Digitimes that the company reserves the right to take legal action against the newspaper.

Among the discrepancies in the report, according to Ding, is the claim that one factory at Longhua employed 200,000 people who worked 15-hours a day for $50 a month. In fact, said the spokesman, Foxconn Electronics employs only 160,000 people worldwide. He also said that Foxconn abides by Chinese employment law which requires a minimum wage of $101 per month inside the Shenzhen Economic Zone and $88 outside.

Ding said that Foxconn had been making improvements to living conditions in its dormitories and had been named by the Shenzhen government as a role model among Taiwan-based investors in Shenzhen.

11 Responses to “Foxconn Threatens Legal Action over ‘iPod City’ Sweatshop Claims”

  1. Sick of the FUD and Mud Says:

    Nice to have them come back and refute with actual FACTS, rather than the hogwash and innuendo thrown out by ‘Mail on Sunday’. Maybe not enough to stop the FUD and smear campaign apparently in full force, and too bad the damage to Apple’s reputation is already done, and Apple have had to spend energy and resources to refute it.

    Notice how when there are positive news about Apple/iPod/iTMS that there seems to follow some kind of ’smear’ or ‘bad news’ ?? iPod sales blowing through the roof?? How about this guy, who later turns out did not authorize a suit in his name, who was suing Apple about the earbuds? Follow with various EuroGovs ‘consumer groups’ raising cain about “Apple’s DRM” ? One after another, drip drip drip. Smear FUD Smear.

    Why don’t they attack other devices? Why don’t they attack the most popular game consoles to allow console-exclusive games to play on other consoles? Isn’t it unfair to consumers that they can’t play Halo on their Sega? Why not attack MS to allow Halo to play on Sega or Nintendo? And vice-versa?? Why are they all focusing on Apple and record company required DRM??

    Apple’s implentation of DRM, FairPlay, is the most liberal, least restrictive, most consumer friendly of the lot, so why are they focusing on Apple as “unfair”? It’s a bunch of crap, and I would not be the least surprised to find MS or their proxies at the end of some money trail. This is typical of how they “compete”. If you can’t beat ‘em fairly, then hobble them, break their speed, steal their mojo, spread FUD and mud. Anything that hurts your “enemy” helps you. Disgusting.

  2. Hammer of Truth Says:

    It is amazing now how any article written on the internet can be picked up by major reporting sites and be considered newsworthy. Although working conditions in China are not the best (and not the worst), there are some who think that Apple is the bad guy while they still are buying stuff from Walmart who is one of the biggest buyers of Chinese made goods and have been busted for allowing their manufacturers to use child labor.

    The majority of the people who are buying iPods don’t really know what kind of company Apple is and where their roots are. I seriously doubt that they would knowingly allow a manufacturer to make their goods with sweatshops.

    As far as the DRM whiners go, they don’t have to buy from the ITMS, just go out and BUY the damned CD and rip it and be done with it. It’s a convenience to buy from iTunes so you play by Apple’s (and in a broader sense the RIAA’s) rules, so stop whining you lazy bastards.

  3. Christiaan Says:

    Why don’t they attack other devices?

    Because Apple markets itself as hip and trendy and has a high profile. If I was trying to expose worker exploitation I’d use Apple as well.

  4. TimT Says:

    The criticism of factory where iPods are made has nothing to do with sweatshops or with Apple. That’s all just another example of poor [edited to avoid misunderstanding of term used] journalism.

    The factory has to be fairly state of the art if it’s making iPods. So it will be a fancier place to work than the places that supply WalMart, Macy’s, Target, Sears, KMart or most of the other corporations that are supplied by China now.

    The folks at this place get standard (or better) pay by Chinese standards. They work longer hours than we do but again, its no different from factories that make t-shirts or underwear.

    The real issue is that these Western journalists are making a point about how little folks in China get paid and how much they work. And they are using the iPod to hype the issue.

    But it’s not an Apple sweatshop issue it’s about Asian factories giving their folks a lot less than we do over here. It’s unfortunate that the Mail chose to smear one company for an outsourcer that is actually delivering better than average working conditions (by China standards). But that’s what the media has become isn’t it. A reporter wants to make a name for himself. And the others jump on the bandwaggon like lemmings.

  5. mac4xpd Says:

    If I was trying to expose worker exploitation I’d use Apple as well.

    I hope that you’d do a better job of checking your facts than the Mail on Sunday appears to have done. ;-)

  6. Terrin Says:

    The problem is Foxconn really did not refute anything. Fact number one: China allows slave labor and has a horrible human’ rights record. This is why manufacturing costs are so low in China and why American companies build everything there.

    Moreover, the original report said the company was paying people around $50 dollars a month. Foxconn by responding has not refuted anything. Even if it really does pay workers $100 to $88 dollars, as opposed to the $50 reported, that figure really is not far off from the reported salary. In addition, Foxconn does not tell us how much it charges workers to live in its dormitories. After that expense is deducted, the worker might walk away with fifty cents for all we know.

    It is meaningless that the Shanghi government says this company is a role model. The Shanghi government is part of the Chinese Communist party. You know the same government, along with the US, that endorses slave labor.

  7. mac4xpd Says:

    Terrin - you’re right, China’s human rights record is appalling, but that’s not what the article was about. It was specifically about the pay and conditions at one factory.

    Foxconn by responding has not refuted anything. Even if it really does pay workers $100 to $88 dollars, as opposed to the $50 reported, that figure really is not far off from the reported salary.

    Sorry, Terrin, you’re wrong here. We’re talking about a difference of between 60% and 100%. If my employer increased my salary (or decreased it) by 60-100%, I wouldn’t dismiss it as ‘not far off’

    The fact is that the cost of living in China is vastly different from anywhere in the West and salaries reflect that. Compared with the alternatives available to these workers, it’s a decent wage. If any Western company marched into China and pushed salaries significantly beyond these levels there would be mayhem - massive inflation, price rises, a much bigger gap between rich and poor and then corruption, racketeering and organised crime would determine who got the good jobs.

    I’m no fan of the Chinese govt, quite the opposite. But I am a realist.You can’t change a mass economy like China’s overnight. What Western companies investing in China must do is press constantly for improvements, both economically and politically.

  8. Jeffsters Says:

    Hey Max4xpd!

    Anytime you want to move with me and live in those dorms and make $88 to $100 a month let me know! I don’t care what measure or rational you use this is wrong and it damages our country’s ability to compete. This is why we’ve lost our manufacturing jobs…don’t woory though, HiTech is where we all should be, ooops wait…they’re going to India! Well hold on…we always have service jobs…oops…they’re all taken by the illgeals from Mexico. Yikes!

  9. mac4xpd Says:

    Jeffsters - sounds like your problem isn’t with the pay and conditions of the workers in China but with the free market economy. Basic capitalism is what’s at play here. Companies buy the resources, in this case labour, at the best price they can get. At the moment, that happens to be in China and India. As these countries economies grow in strength, wages will rise and they won’t be so attractive.

    The market forces which built America are the same ones which are now enabling companies to outsource labour. If you don’t like it, perhaps you could advocate another system? Or is capitalism ok, so long as companies only employ workers in the US?

  10. Christiaan Says:

    If you don’t like it, perhaps you could advocate another system?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Participatory_economy

  11. Christiaan Says:

    Interesting that Foxconn reportedly admit they’ve been breaking the law in exploiting their workers, but Apple has apparently found “no problem with Foxconn”:
    http://www.chinatechnews.com/index.php?action=show&type=news&id=4120

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