Foxconn workers sing its praises, but profit disappoints
Clare Jim Reuters
10:43 p.m. EDT, April 28, 2012
TAIPEI (Reuters) – Profit at Taiwanese contract maker Hon Hai Precision Industry’s grew less than expected in the first quarter, but the main maker of Apple Inc gadgets, whose plants have come under intense scrutiny over working conditions, was in party mood on Saturday.
Some 200 workers from its parent company Foxconn’s plants in China sang, danced and cheered the company’s billionaire founder at a party in Taipei marking the end of an all-expenses paid seven-day holiday the company arranged for top performing staff.
Foxconn has borne the brunt of criticism over working conditions at Chinese factories, in large part because of its association with Apple, and has become a symbol of the ethical debate over high-priced goods being made at low-cost plants, criticism it sees as unfair.
Over the past two years there have been a spate of suicides at the sprawling plants employing over a million workers making iPads and iPhones as well as gadgets for the likes of Microsoft and Nintendo. There has also been a deadly explosion at one plant and occasional fires.
Just two days ago, workers at a Foxconn plant in Wuhan, central China, protested over working conditions, with a report from a Hong Kong-based activist group saying some had threatened to jump off the roof of a building.
Hon Hai said the dispute was quickly solved without incident.
The company offered no explanation for the disappointing results which come after major customer Apple reported a quarterly profit that almost doubled on Wednesday and far exceeded forecasts thanks to a jump in iPhone sales, particularly in greater China.
The Foxconn group has gone on a charm offensive in recent months, raising wages several times, allowing a TV crew into one of its plants and sealing a landmark deal with Apple on improving working conditions that is likely to set a benchmark for western firms in China.
Chairman and founder Terry Gou said Saturday’s event wasn’t just for show.
“Some media said we’re organizing this tour and event to change our sweatshop image, but this is a event we decided on a year ago,” Gou told reporters.
“There is no image we need to change … We have no problem standing before the open scrutiny of the world’s media.”
Next up for workers’ benefits will be a hospital and language schools, Gou said.
Workers on the Taiwan trip attending Saturday’s party said they were very happy with their working environment.
“Yes it’s very good. It’s always been very good,” chorused three employees in unison as they snapped final souvenir photos in the canteen of the Hon Hai facility in Tucheng, just outside Taipei.
Workers protest at Foxconn plant in China
TAIPEI | Fri Apr 27, 2012 10:13am EDT
(Reuters) – Workers at a Chinese factory owned by Foxconn, Apple Inc’s main manufacturer, threatened to jump off the roof of a building in a protest over wages just a month after the two firms announced a landmark agreement on improving working conditions.
The protest happened in the central city of Wuhan at one of Foxconn’s plants. The company employ some 1.2 million workers in China assembling iPhones and iPads, among other products.
It involved some 200 workers, the Hong-Kong based activist group Information Centre for Human Rights said.
A spokesman for Hon Hai Precision Industry, the listed unit of the Foxconn group, said the protest concerned workplace adjustments and involved workers new to the plant. He said it was not a strike.
“The dispute has already been settled after some negotiations involving the human resources and legal departments as well as the local government,” the Taipei-based spokesman, Simon Tsing, said.
Foxconn, China’s largest private-sector employer, and Apple agreed to tackle violations of working conditions and improve working environments.
The deal was agreed almost two years after a series of worker suicides at Foxconn plants focused attention on conditions at Chinese factories and sparked criticism Apple’s products were built on the backs of mistreated Chinese workers.
On Tuesday, Apple reported that its fiscal second-quarter net income almost doubled after a jump in iPhone sales, blowing past financial market expectations.
Tsing declined to say how many employees were involved in the latest dispute. He said no-one had actually jumped off any building.
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