Foxconn Resolves Pay Dispute With Workers.

Via nytimes.com – Image: wikipedia.org

Contrinutor: DAVID BARBOZA.

SHANGHAI — Foxconn Technology, the largest contract electronics manufacturer in the world, said Thursday that it had resolved a pay dispute with scores of workers at one of its factories in central China, following a large protest that involved threats by some workers to commit suicide by leaping from the top of a factory building.

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The company, a major supplier of products to Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and other electronics giants, said the dispute last week had been resolved successfully and peacefully but that 45 workers had resigned.

In a statement released Thursday, Foxconn said most of the protesting workers had agreed to return to work after negotiations were held with the company and local government officials. But details of the agreement were not released. One of the workers said they had been promised additional compensation.

Foxconn said the protest had involved about 150 of the 32,000 employees at its campus in the city of Wuhan. It was the latest in a long-running series of labor troubles to befall the company, which supplies popular goods like the Apple iPhone, the Amazon Kindle and the Microsoft Xbox.

In 2010, Foxconn was hit by a wave of suicides by distraught workers at several of its Chinese sites. The company, which is controlled by Hon Hai Hai Precision Industry of Taiwan, has been accused of forcing workers to endure long hours and harsh working conditions for little pay.

Under pressure from Apple and other major brands, Foxconn has pledged to improve working conditions in China, and the company has even hired psychiatrists to counsel workers. The company has also embarked on a huge program to invest in robots and to move some of its production to central and western parts of China, where labor is less costly and more abundant. The company says the new campuses also allow migrant workers to live closer to their hometowns.

But while working conditions at Foxconn and other exporters in China may be slowly improving, the demands of workers seem to be rising faster.

There has been a rash of strikes and labor protests throughout the nation in recent months, partly in response to inflation and a greater awareness of the labor laws. The strikes, which sometimes involve thousands of workers, often include demands for higher pay, insurance and better working conditions.

In Wuhan, some of the workers who protested said they were angry about being forced to move from Foxconn’s biggest campus, in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, to Wuhan.

One worker who participated in the Wuhan protest said by telephone that workers shifted to Wuhan had been promised about $450 a month in salary, including overtime pay, but that they had been given about a third less than that and that working conditions in Wuhan were much more difficult.

The worker, who asked not to be identified for fear of being punished by Foxconn, said more than 100 workers had decided to protest on the roof of a three-story building on the campus. The protest lasted more than eight hours.

Several threatened to commit suicide if their demands were not met, he said.

“That day was very cold,” he said. “Some women could not stand the freezing temperatures and fainted.”

In a statement released Thursday, Foxconn said: “The welfare of our employees is our top priority, and we are committed to ensuring that all employees are treated fairly and that their rights are fully protected.”

 

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