Foxconn Chennai strike oppression sparks backlash

Foxconn’s up to its usual tricks with reports of striker oppression toward poorly treated staff in Chennai, South India. The Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) group has said it is wrong that 319 workers were arrested over picketing for wage increases and better working conditions.  

Foxconn production line workers at the plant only get paid roughly $106 a month, SACOM said. It added that this is far less than other factories in the region.

The strike launched in September but was suppressed by the joint efforts of Foxconn and the local police. SACOM added that workers had taken action after demands for $224 for entry-level workers weren’t met. The workers also demanded better working conditions.

Poor working conditions have tarnished Foxconn’s reputation following the well publicised Shenzhen suicides. 

Foxconn employees have allegedly been forced to work shifts of 12 hours or more, in complete silence, with extremely limited breaks and having to eat on the go. The Foxconn culture, according to some reports, places excessive stress on staff to meet aggressive targets. One reporter said he was roughed up by security staff. Workers also claim that at factor dormitories, dozens of people are crammed into single rooms, sleeping in triple bunk beds.

Some workers complained of cockroaches in the dormitories and no running water for days to bathe themselves.

Earlier this year the Chennai plant had to suspend operations for several days on the instructions of the government after workers experienced nausea. The cause of the symptoms was “probably pesticide” sprayed at the facility without proper ventilation, state government officials said at the time.

Last month Terry Gou, founder, CEO of Foxconn and billionaire said in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek that he was initially unconcerned about the Shenzhen deaths and that he didn’t feel he should be taking responsibility. Some of Gou’s preferred mantras are: “a harsh environment is a good thing”, “hungry people have especially clear minds”, and “work itself is a type of joy.”

All of the arrested workers have been released on bail.