Under Fire for Reported Worker Abuse, Apple’s Supplier Foxconn Increases Wages

Foxconn Technology Group, the company that helps make some of the world’s most popular consumer electronics devices, reportedly has raised wages for its Chinese workers after facing significant criticism over worker conditions thanks to media reports and organizations that rallied critics to hold Foxconn’s famous customer Apple Inc. accountable.

Apple’s component’s supplier, Foxconn, said it has raised wages of its Chinese workers by 16 – 25 percent, Reuters reported.

“As a top manufacturing company in China, the basic salary of junior workers in all of Foxconn’s China factories is already far higher than the minimum wages set by all local governments,” the report quoted Foxconn as asserting in a statement.

Taiwan-based Foxconn has faced pressures after media reports, including an investigative article from The New York Times and a report from Chicago Public Radio’s This American Life, depicted the company as one that hires children and subjects workers to continuous shifts, crowded living quarters and other abyssal conditions. That prompted petitions calling on Apple to respond to worker abuse and make its next-generation iPhone — dubbed the iPhone 5 — ethically.

Citing a Foxconn statement, Reuters said the pay of junior level workers in Shenzhen has risen to 1,800 yuan ($290) per month and could be further increased above 2,200 yuan if a worker passed a technical exam.

The pay increase is at least the second concrete action that has been taken this week in response to the various criticisms over worker conditions.

Earlier this week, Apple revealed that the Fair Labor Association (FLA) was conducting volunteer audits of its assembly suppliers, including Foxconn factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu, China at Apple’s request. The FLA, Apple said, will interview thousands of employees about working and living conditions, including communications with management, compensation, health and safety, and working hours.

“The inspections now underway are unprecedented in the electronics industry, both in scale and scope, and we appreciate the FLA agreeing to take the unusual step of identifying the factories in their reports,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement Monday.

Responding to the recent developments, one critic indicated that Apple could do even more to protect workers abroad.

“It would still be great to see Apple use some of it’s hallmark creativity to issue a worker protection plan so that the injuries and suicides that have marked new product launches to date, quickly become a thing of the past,” said Mark Shields, who created a petition that was circulated earlier this month to Apple stores in major cities around the world.

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