The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 76/No. 4      January 30, 2012

China workers push back
bosses sack-or-move plan
Recent protests at Foxconn Technology in Wuhan, China, have drawn worldwide attention to the unsafe conditions, speedup and company treatment of workers in the plant and their determination to do just about anything to confront it.

Around 150 workers gathered on the factory roof threatening to jump to their deaths if their demands were not met. The protest began Jan. 2 after the company said it was closing down one of its production lines and moving some workers to jobs elsewhere in the country.

“Foxconn initially offered severance pay for those that wanted to leave rather than be transferred, but then reneged, angering the workers,” reported the Washington Post.

Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer, is a unit of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. in Taiwan. It makes iPads and iPhones for Apple, Xboxes for Microsoft and other electronic gadgets. Its Wuhan factory in central China employs 32,000 workers.

“We were put to work without any training, and paid piecemeal,” a protesting worker, who asked that his name not be used, told the London Telegraph. “The assembly line ran very fast and after just one morning we all had blisters and the skin on our hand was black. The factory was also really choked with dust and no one could bear it.”

Some workers had been forced to move from Foxconn’s southern Chinese coastal city of Shenzhen to Wuhan. The company then backtracked on the wages they had promised to pay. Instead of getting $450 a month, including overtime, they received one-third less, reported the New York Times.

In a statement released Jan. 12 Foxconn claimed, “The welfare of our employees is our top priority.” Yet their record over the past two years tells a different story. Last May three workers died and 15 were injured from a “combustible dust” blast at Foxconn’s iPad factory in Chengdu. Another explosion seven months later at another Chinese iPad facility run by Pegatron Corp. injured dozens of others.

Foxconn has a bleak record of workers committing suicide at its plants. In 2010, 18 workers threw themselves from the factory’s top, with 14 deaths, according to the Telegraph. That year Foxconn, feeling some heat, more than doubled wages for some workers, reports Bloomberg News.

In a Jan. 12 statement, Foxconn said 45 of the workers in Wuhan resigned and the rest agreed to return to work, though settlement details have not been released to the media.

In another development, city officials in Zhengzhou, capital of the mostly rural Henan province, is offering to assist Foxconn in recruiting more than 100,000 workers at much lower wages for its local factory there.

Labor costs in Zhengzhou are about two-thirds of those in China’s coastal cities, Deputy Mayor Xue Yunwei told Bloomberg News. “You can’t find entry-level workers in Shanghai offering only 1,500 yuan ($237) of monthly salary. But we can,” he said. Part of the local government’s plan is to encourage the 21 million migrant workers who have left the province in search of work in coastal cities to return.
Related articles:
Back ILWU struggle against union busting!
Port workers prepare visible, disciplined protest
Locked-out Ohio tire workers: ‘Community is really behind us’
Texas mill workers’ strike in 9th month, ‘In it to win’
Honor of picket line strengthened strike against Indiana Limestone
USW faces contract expiration at Cooper Tire in Ark
Solidarity with longshore workers!
Calif. candy workers ‘lost a battle, but not the war’
Quebec paper mill closed after workers reject wage, pension cut
NY Cablevision workers fight for union recognition  
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home