The manufacturer at the center of the iPod labor storm has hit back at suggestions that its workers are underpaid and have to put up with poor working conditions.
Foxconn Technology, the largest Taiwan-funded manufacturing company on the mainland, produces electronic equipment for a number of global companies. However, a recent report in a British newspaper said that workers at a factory making iPods for Apple Computers Inc have to work 15 hours a day but earn just US$50 a month.
Apple has launched an investigation into Foxconn, and reiterated it would not tolerate any labor violations.
However, Foxconn has added its voice to the controversy. saying the report is groundless.
"In Shenzhen, our workers can earn at least 580 yuan (US$72.5) a month, which is the minimum salary level fixed by the local government. Starting from this July, the basic salary will be adjusted to 700 yuan (US$87.5) in line with the government's new standards," James Lee, senior vice president of Foxconn Technology, told China Daily yesterday.
"It's hard to understand for many westerners but it's true that many of our workers are willing to work overtime to make more money. We don't force them to work overtime and won't allow them to work overtime for more than 20 hours a week," Lee said.
Practices comply with the Electronic Industry Code of Conduct, which sets out basic labor and environmental standards for IT contractors, he explained.
The plant in Longhua, near Shenzhen, exported US$20.7 billion products and paid about 1.46 billion yuan (US$182.5 million) tax last year.
Lee believes the controversy is a result of fierce commercial competition.
"Apple's iPod players are popular in the global market and play a dominant role in Europe. Its competitors are finding excuses to compete with it. That's the reason why we have been placed in the limelight," he said.
Apple China was not available for comment yesterday.
The local labor department authority told China Daily yesterday that Foxconn is a leading company in the city and it has not received any complaints about it.
"I don't think the government will launch a special investigation into Foxconn," the spokesman said.
However, a female worker at the factory said the working conditions were OK, but not everything was satisfactory.
"We are just here to make money. Some factories are even worse," she said.
(China Daily June 21, 2006)