Foxconn 'abuses, kidnaps' interns: universities' report

09:33, October 09, 2010      

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The Taiwan-based Foxconn, the contract producer for companies such as Apple, is being accused of abusing interns at its mainland complex in a newly released report.

A total of 20 universities from the mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong, including Peking University, ChineseUniversity of Hong Kong and Taiwan University, compiled the report based on two months of field research on the company's labor practices.

The researchers are calling for a change in the production model from the "world's factory" to a more human attentive model.

Verbal abuse of interns and harsh punishments, as well as poor safety standards in the workplace and unfulfilled salary-hike promises, were listed in the survey, according to China Business News.

The report claims that the interns, who are mainly diploma seekers from Henan, Anhui, Hubei and Wuhan, make up almost half of the labor force in the company and are randomly assigned to work on the assembly lines.

An ex-employee of Foxconn surnamed Yang told the Global Times Friday that they were told to obey and often suffered verbal abuse. "The interns can only adjust screws and stamp tapes."

Xu Qian, an employee with Foxconn, told the Global Times that, in his department, more than half of the employees are interns and the staff turnover rate is high.

"My tutor is only 17, but with one year of working here he is already an experienced employee," Xu added.

The company was described in the report as a "concentration camp of workers in the 21st century," and all the employees are "imprisoned" in the "company empire" in order to serve the manufacturing rule of "just-in-time production."

The students are "kidnapped" to work overtime for the company that takes advantage of a lack of laws and regulations to maximize its profits, according to the report.

Although the company has been plagued with scandals of workforce abuse, Foxconn is a popular choice among potential employees, let alone interns who are desperate to pad their resume.

The company continues to woo employees with the promise of a new round of salary hikes that will start this month at its production base in Shenzhen, according to a Xinhua report.

Hundreds of thousands of candidates flooded the Foxconn Zhengzhou branch in August to join the 200,000-strong workforce after a string of suicides rocked the company.

Lin Xinqi, a professor at the School of Labor and Human Resources at Renmin University of China, told the Global Times that the scarcity of top brand name enterprises makes Foxconn a desired destination for the students.

"The intern posts they can offer are even more limited than the number of the famous enterprises. Students compete for these posts with the hope that they can become a contractual employee after the internship," Lin said.

An official surnamed Gou with Chongqing City Management College, which signed an internship contract with Foxconn in June, confirmed to the Global Times the attraction of these companies.

"Famous enterprises such as Foxconn may attract more students to apply for our college," Gou explained.

He also said more than 100 colleges in Chongqing have signed intern contracts with Foxconn.

But without formal contracts and legal mechanisms in place, the students can only collect their salaries and other benefits by negotiating directly with the companies.

"This limit and loopholes in laws and regulations clearly give the company an advantage. As more and more attention is given to the rights of interns, China should consider establishing relevant laws or regulations," Lin said.

Chen Rui, An Baijie and Xinhua contributed to this story

Source: Global Times


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