French journalists expose Foxconn again

Claims by Apple and Foxconn that they had fixed the labour problems have turned out to be spin, according to a French expose by Envoyé Spécial.

Journalists from the public TV station France 2 went undercover at the Zhengzhou iPhone 5 Foxconn factory.

The programme, which is sort of a French Panorama, found many of the same problems the Chinese manufacturer and Apple promised to fix earlier this year.

According to Engadget, the report uncovers a nightmare of working conditions. Workers were forced to stay in partly built dorm rooms that had no elevators, electricity or running water.

A Foxconn manager was filmed warning workers not to plug devices into dorms that did have electricity, saying that eight workers were killed in a fire after overloading circuits.

Hacks interviewed lower-paid student employees who were of legal age to work there but were essentially slave labour. Corrupt school administrators told them they’d lose their diplomas if they didn’t take a job at the plant.

Regular workers also claimed that much of their upgraded $290 monthly salary was still being absorbed by the company through housing, insurance and food charges.

Envoyé Spécial found that Foxconn had methods of clawing back wages from employees. These included a $7 for a psychological test supposed to weed out suicidal candidates. Foxconn does not pay, but workers did.

Foxconn is under pressure from Apple to turn out shedloads of the shiny toys to keep the wealthy and clueless of the world happy.

One employee said it is so difficult to meet the quota, the company has to recruit all the time to stem the turnover of frustrated workers.

Foxconn didn’t discuss the above findings with French reporters on camera but has since admitted that it was not perfect. It said that the company was making progress and was a market leader in meeting the needs of the new generation of workers in China.

Apple told Envoyé Spécial that its subcontractors were required to provide safe working conditions, dignity and respect to employees.

Apple said that it insisted all of its suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever its products are made.

However, neither Apple nor Foxconn seemed keen to have another round of investigations at the new plant.