Foxconn promises to radically improve working conditions
The New York Times
Hürriyet photoChina's Foxconn Tecnhology, one of the world's largest electronics manufacturers, has announced that it will "sharply" increase salaries and reduce overtime following reports that workers were being treated appallingly, the New York Times reported yesterday.
The decision was a signal that pressure from workers, international markets and concerns among Western consumers about working conditions drove a "fundamental shift that could accelerate an already rapidly changing Chinese economy," the New York Times wrote.
The true meaning of Foxconn's reforms depend on how effectively the company can change an economic system that "relied on luring migrants to work cheaply for long hours," the report said. The company's manufacturing plants have depended on workers being present at assembly lines six or seven days a week and up to 14 hours a day.
A successful transition to a new economic model also depends on Foxconn's clients' – which include Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Dell and other large electronics firms – ability to convince their customers that better working conditions for manufacturing their products is worth an increase in the price of goods.
"In China, for that change to be permanent, consumers have to be willing to bear the consequences," David Autor is quoted as saying. "When people read about bad Chinese factories in the paper, they might have a moment of outrage. But then they go to Amazon and are as ruthless as ever about paying the lowest prices.”
Foxconn is among China's largest employers with 1.2 million employees and assembles 40 percent of the world's smartphones, computers and other electronic gadgets.
Foxconn said it would increase salaries as much as 25 percent, to around $400 a month, after an outcry over working conditions at its factories.
The New York Times said Foxconn had, by bowing to such demands, "conceded that employees and consumers have gained a sway once possessed only by Chinese bureaucrats and executives at the global electronics firms."