Foxconn Is Pushing Into Retail


Chinese electronics manufacturer Foxconn, which builds products for Apple and many other electronics companies, came under some criticism last year after a spate of worker suicides. But according to a new article in Wired, working conditions in its plants are no worse than most factories in the developed world.

Reporter Joel Johnson toured Foxconn’s huge factory in Shenzhen (with a public relations rep in tow) and concluded that workers face boring and repetitive work, but aren’t forced to work long hours or suffer brutal conditions.

Along the way, he revealed some fascinating facts:

  • Foxconn’s plant in Shenzen employs about 500,000 people. The company has 1 million employees total.
  • The products manufactured by Foxconn account for nearly 40% of the $150 million U.S. consumer electronics industry.
  • Shifts are around 10 hours with two 10 minute breaks and an hour for lunch.
  • The company is building a chain of Chinese retail franchises called 10 Thousand Horses Galloping, and hopes to offer them to employees, perhaps with some working capital to get them started.
  • The company has built counseling centres on factory grounds, but they provide practical help as well as psychological help — one helps workers replace lost keycards or buy phone cards to call home.

As Apple gets ready to introduce the second iPad tomorrow, it’s worth reading the report to remember that these products don’t spring whole from the brain of Steve Jobs and the geniuses at Apple.

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