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Chinese Apple and IBM worker-drones strike

by Alistair Lowe on 25 November 2011, 10:13

Tags: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), IBM (NYSE:IBM)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qa77e

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1,000 out of 3,000 Chinese workers, producing products primarily for Apple and other multinationals such as the likes of IBM and LG, are striking at a factory in Shenzhen, owned by Taiwanese Jinguan Computer Group, who focuses on the production of peripheral devices.

A typical working day for the factory workers is supposed to be 7:00 - 11:30 am and then 1:00 - 5:00 pm, however workers were having to work further hours from six in the evening up to two in the morning, 100 to 120 hours overtime per month. Taking these extended shifts on Saturdays was denied as workers would have been entitled to being paid double time.

The workers claim that management is too demanding and verbally abusive and that this, coupled with heavy overtime in a dangerous environment, low-pay, zero-benefits and mass lay-offs of older workers, simply isn't worth it. We would tend to agree.

China Labor Watch is strongly urging clients of the factory, with focus on Apple as the primary client, with 300 dedicated workers on the keyboard peripheral assembly-line alone, to tackle the problem directly with Jinguan Computer Group. Director of the China Labor Watch Li Qiang stated that the factory itself must change the brutal management system as workers become aware of their rights.

Strikes are an increasing trend as of late, recently more than 400 female workers at a bra factory in the same region cut power and lay down their tools as a manager told a worker to "jump off a roof and go to hell." Just last week over 7,000 workers at a factory in nearby Dongguan, producing shoes for popular sporting brands such as Adidas, New Balance and Nike, went on strike over lay-offs and wage cuts.

Manufacturers in China are already questioning the future of cheap labour as minimum wages rise, with companies like Pegatron and Foxconn now planning to increase automation in factories. A move that has surprised a little as Foxconn chairman and president, Terry Gou, had once said: "Hungry people have especially clear minds."

With China looking to automate, we wonder two things; should western countries perhaps look to re-enter the low-cost manufacturing market as competition with cheap labour drops off and focus switches over to automation, a speciality in many Western countries, and; where in the world might cheap labour attempt to move to next?



HEXUS Forums :: 14 Comments

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There's plenty happening in Brazil.
120 hours of overtime per month?! That's probably about the amount of hours I do, without overtime. :o

That's just craziness!

I hope something gets done about it soon, these big companies are making far too much money from these unfortunate people in undeveloped countries.
Hoonigan
I hope something gets done about it soon, these big companies are making far too much money from these unfortunate people in undeveloped countries.

Exactly. I know that many of these people probably are probably from villages where there is not much work, but OTH taking advantage of this fact and pushing them to do such long hours is almost like slavery. Yet,companies like Apple and IBM (not only them) which sell higher end products at a premium and are making massive profits are using contractors which are abusing their workers. Its bad enough for cheap products but for more expensive products assembly costs are just a tiny part of the BOM.

FFS,they probably do know and are just saving pennies - why can't these companies simply go for contractors which treat their workers better;these companies would not do this to their US and European employees. It also means more expensive contractors in China or in other countries which actually treat their workers better are less competitive and it encourages them to the same thing as others. I am sure if they priced their products even a few pounds more people would still buy them and then they could put it towards pay.
With China looking to automate, we wonder two things; should western countries perhaps look to re-enter the low-cost manufacturing market as competition with cheap labour drops off and focus switches over to automation, a speciality in many Western countries, and; where in the world might cheap labour attempt to move to next?
Don't want to come across like a Red Robbo, but I can't help wondering if our government aren't going to try and bid for this work. After all, they seem hell-bent on rolling back any workforce protections and portraying strikers as work-shy troublemakers.

Then again, I'm biased, having previously been in a business that got privatised under Major. The bosses got “obscene” (Public Accounts Comm'tee description) bonuses and payoffs - we got our unions de-recognised and more or less forced to join a toothless “staff association” instead. Redundancies, pay-freezes and pension hits followed.

And before anyone asks, yes - I am a union member (Unite), but I'm not on strike next week. As such, I side totally with the Chinese workers, hopefully someone will be able to get some management heads banged together and stop this slavery. :whip: