Foxconn says to boost China worker participation in union

Mon Feb 4, 2013 6:47am EST
 
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TAIPEI/BEIJING (Reuters) - Foxconn Technology Group, the assembler of most of the world's top-selling electronic gadgets including Apple Inc's iPhone, is trying to raise participation in its union as part of efforts to dispel a rash of bad publicity over poor working conditions and labor disputes.

Taiwan's Foxconn, which employs more than 1 million people, mostly in China at huge factory complexes, hit the headlines in mid-2010 following a spate of worker suicides and widespread allegations of poor conditions, long hours and low wages.

Apple, Foxconn's main client, asked the U.S.- based Fair Labor Association (FLA) to review Foxconn's operations last year following the troubles at its plants and criticism of Apple itself for having its high-priced gadgets made in low-wage Foxconn plants.

Foxconn said on Monday it was increasing the number of junior employee representatives in committees within the union representing its workers. It said all its sites had been holding elections to increase the number of such positions, and the management was not involved in the election process.

"As a part of efforts to implement the Action Plan that was developed together with the Fair Labor Association, Foxconn is introducing measures to enhance employee representation in the Foxconn Labor Union and to raise employees' awareness of the organization," it said in a statement.

Foxconn's latest plan follows recommendations in the FLA report. It has already implemented other recommendations and has increased wages and improved amenities at its sites.

Foxconn is the trading name of Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.

NOT MUCH CHANGE

Labor analysts said that while the latest plans show willingness on the part of the company to engage its workers, they would not mean much of a change, with the key being how the representatives will be chosen.   Continued...

 
Workers walk out of the entrance to a Foxconn factory in Chengdu, Sichuan province July 4, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer