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Sat Dec 15, 2012, 04:57 PM

French reporters infiltrate Foxconn iPhone 5 factory, find few of the vaunted changes

Envoyé Spécial, a 60 Minutes-like program from public TV station France 2, went undercover at the Zhengzhou iPhone 5 Foxconn factory recently (within the past two months) and reported many of the same problems the Chinese manufacturer and Apple promised to fix earlier this year. According to the story that aired last night, dorms at the new factory were occupied by workers despite the fact that many were still under construction and had no elevators, electricity or running water -- apparently because builders focused on the production lines at the expense of housing. A Foxconn manager even warned employees on hidden camera not to plug devices into dorms that did have electricity, saying that eight workers were killed in a fire after overloading circuits.

In addition, reporters met lower-paid student employees who were of legal age to work there but had no desire to do so, saying corrupt school administrators illegally told them they'd lose their diplomas if they didn't take a job. Meanwhile, regular workers also claimed that much of their upgraded $290 monthly salary was still being absorbed by the company through housing, insurance and food -- with one claiming he only had $340 left after a year of toil. While that might be due to corrupt businesses in the area, the journalists found that Foxconn also levied numerous charges against employees, including around $7 for a psychological test that's supposed to weed out suicidal candidates. Labor groups claimed that many workers in the region were still putting in up to 150 hours of overtime per month while working up to 90 days straight without a break to make up the shortfall, far in excess of the company's promises.

Envoyé Spécial concludes all this is due to Foxconn's attempt to keep up with iPhone 5 demand at the Apple-focused factory, which one employee said is so difficult to make that the company needs to recruit relentlessly to stem the turnover of frustrated workers. Watchdogs there told French reporters that it's easier to find fresh blood in the provincial region while also shortcutting labor laws, far away from the prying eyes of watchdogs around Shenzhen, the hub of Chinese manufacturing. While Foxconn didn't discuss the above findings with French reporters, Apple told Envoyé Spécial that its subcontractors were required to provide safe working conditions, dignity and respect to employees.

Read the rest at: http://www.engadget.com/2012/12/14/french-reporters-infiltrate-zhengzhou-foxconn-iphone-5-factory/

See also this DU thread about Apple moving some Mac manufacturing back to the US: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1014327786

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