Friday, March 30, 2012

Chinese Workers Are Upset With Less Overtime: "We're Here to Work and Not to Play"

Reuters - "When Chinese worker Wu Jun heard that her employer, the giant electronics assembly company Foxconn, had given employees landmark concessions her reaction was worry, not elation.

Foxconn's concessions, including cutting overtime for its 1.2 million mainland Chinese workers while promising compensation that protects them against losing income, were backed by Apple, which has faced criticism and media scrutiny for worker safety lapses and for using relatively low-paid employees to make high-cost phones, computers and other gadgets.

But at the Foxconn factory gates, many workers seemed unconvinced that their pay wouldn't be cut along with their hours. For some Chinese factory workers - who make much of their income from long hours of overtime - the idea of less work for the same pay could take getting used to.

"We are worried we will have less money to spend. Of course, if we work less overtime, it would mean less money," said Wu, a 23-year-old employee from Hunan province in south China.

"We are here to work and not to play, so our income is very important," said Chen Yamei, 25, a Foxconn worker from Hunan who said she had worked at the factory for four years.

"We have just been told that we can only work a maximum of 36 hours a month of overtime. I tell you, a lot of us are unhappy with this. We think that 60 hours of overtime a month would be reasonable and that 36 hours would be too little," she added. Chen said she now earned a bit over 4,000 yuan a month ($634).

HT: Wayne Sanman

24 Comments:

At 3/30/2012 8:38 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Wages can increase substantially without an increase in price:

What Foxconn Changes Mean for Workers, the Industry and You
March 30, 2012

“Labor is only a small percentage of the total cost of a product.”

If a cellphone costs $229, that’s the price it’s going to be.

If labor costs go up and everything else stays constant, it may cost $1 more to make each cellphone, but it’s not going to change that $229 retail price tag.

The manufacturer just has to eat that tiny decrease in profits.

Workers may be paid twice what they were just a few years back. With that in mind, has the cost of the iPhone gone up? Nope.

Foxconn is working on “a compensation package that protects workers from losing income due to reduced overtime.”

 
At 3/30/2012 10:16 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

"We have just been told that we can only work a maximum of 36 hours a month of overtime. I tell you, a lot of us are unhappy with this. We think that 60 hours of overtime a month would be reasonable and that 36 hours would be too little," she added. Chen said she now earned a bit over 4,000 yuan a month ($634).

I guess that the Chinese workers are not exactly happy at the way that activists have decreased their hours and ultimately their pay. While it is clear that given the Chinese inflation rate their wages will keep going up, they will not make as much as they could have if they worked longer.

 
At 3/30/2012 10:48 PM, Blogger Ken said...

This is simply par for the course for progressives. The entire progressive agenda reduces job opportunity and pay for pretty much everyone, which naturally hurts the poor the most.

The problem is that this isn't a bug, it's a feature. It ensures a culture of government dependency on which the progressives depend for political power.

 
At 3/30/2012 10:49 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"I guess that the Chinese workers are not exactly happy at the way that activists have decreased their hours and ultimately their pay"...

Well maybe vangeIV the Foxconn employees could pool together a few bucks and send a couple of guys over and have a discussion with this intrusive fool Mike Daisey...

 
At 3/31/2012 12:51 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Peak,

Your loud complaints about exploited Chinese workers have been heard, and their cruelly long hours have been reduced.

As you can see from the article, they are ecstatic, and thank you for reducing their incomes.

They would like to build a statue in front of their facility at this address:

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd.
No.2, Zihyou St., Tucheng Dist.,
New Taipei City 236, Taiwan

Please email a photo of yourself to this guy so they can create your likeness.

Simon Hsing - Spokesperson
simon.cp.hsing@foxconn.com
+886-2-2268-3466, ext. 3864

 
At 3/31/2012 5:06 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>>> "This is a good company to work for because the working conditions are better than a lot of other small factories."

Stupid Chinese Buffoon!!!

Haven't you heard that the health and safety there are wretched?

>>>> "We are worried we will have less money to spend. Of course, if we work less overtime, it would mean less money," said Wu

Damn, with an attitude like that, I cannot, for the life of me, imagine why ANY company would want non-American workers. I mean, clearly, Americans have a much, much more entitled////// sorry, "enlightened" attitude and should be highly sought after in industry.

 
At 3/31/2012 5:13 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>>> If labor costs go up and everything else stays constant, it may cost $1 more to make each cellphone, but it’s not going to change that $229 retail price tag.

LOL, shows what you know about the business end of even a jackass.

It's long been a truism that, in general, an expense increase of 'x' (in labor, parts, transportation, whatever) leads to a '10x' increase in price at the retail level.

So a US$1 increase in expense will almost certainly result in a roughly US$10 increase in the price at the store.

PT: Cluelessly, you fail to grasp what's already been discussed here, which is reshoring -- that is, bringing manufacturing back to the USA -- which will PUT THOSE EMPLOYEES OUT OF WORK.

It won't lead to vast increases in employment here, either, because the reason it's being brought back HERE is because the factory is being more fully roboticized, and the worker count will be a fraction of what it was in China, with far more robots taking the place of the humans.

Eventually, that happens anyway, but the longer it takes (within limits) the better it is for the Chinese worker base, who get to bootstrap their whole national economy into the 21st Century.... or at least the later third of the 20th.

 
At 3/31/2012 6:22 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

Here's my question.

How much does an unsubsidized IPHONE cost?

isn't it several hundred dollars?

how much does it cost to produce in terms of labor and materials?

Most "stuff" that is made overseas is relatively cheap.

For instance, many good smart phones can be had for a hundred bucks or less.

so what does Apple pay for each SmartPhone that they receive from China?

Somebody is making some money here and it's obviously not the workers building the phone, eh?

 
At 3/31/2012 7:14 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Larry, the labor component to produce an iPhone is small:

Apple pledge likely to boost China factory wages
10 hours ago

"ISuppli estimates that Apple pays less than $8 for the assembly of a 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S and $188 for its components.

The phone sells in the U.S. for $649, though wireless carriers offer them at a subsidized $199 with a two-year service contract.

If Apple were to absorb a Foxconn wage increase to keep pay the same and cut the work week from 60 hours to 49, it would pay about $2 more to have an iPhone made.

Apple's regulatory filings imply that it makes hundreds of dollars in profits per phone.

The minimum wage in Shanghai, one of the world's most expensive cities, is about 1,200 yuan ($200) a month after an increase of more than 10 percent last year.

The northern city of Tianjin raised its minimum wage to 1,070 yuan ($175)."

 
At 3/31/2012 7:44 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Ron says: "exploited Chinese workers...as you can see from the article, they are ecstatic...thank you for reducing their incomes."

Apple manufacturing plant workers complain of long hours, militant culture
February 6, 2012

"Foxconn employees have a saying, "they use women as men and men as machines."

After three weeks of applying more than 4,000 stickers a day onto iPad screens by hand and working 60 hours a week in an assembly line, Chen says she's ready to go back to school and study hard so she'll never have to return to Foxconn.

"It's so boring, I can't bear it anymore. Everyday is like: I get off from work and I go to bed. I get up in the morning, and I go to work.

It is my daily routine and I almost feel like an animal," said Ms. Chen, who aspires to become a biologist.

When asked why humans do machine-like work at Foxconn, she responds, "Well, humans are cheaper."

 
At 3/31/2012 8:42 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

isn't this how unions get formed?

 
At 3/31/2012 9:00 AM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

How much does an unsubsidized IPHONE cost?

What do you mean by unsubsidized?

 
At 3/31/2012 9:06 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Larry, yes. However, in China, workers are restricted to committing suicide.

Foxconn may be one of the better plants to work in China. Nonetheless:

'Mass suicide' protest at Apple manufacturer Foxconn factory
11 Jan 2012

Around 150 Chinese workers at Foxconn, the world's largest electronics manufacturer, threatened to commit suicide by leaping from their factory roof in protest at their working conditions.

In the aftermath of the suicides, Foxconn installed safety nets in some of its factories.

"We were put to work without any training, and paid piecemeal," said one of the protesting workers, who asked not to be named.

"The assembly line ran very fast and after just one morning we all had blisters... The factory was also really choked with dust and no one could bear it," he said.

"Because we could not cope, we went on strike," said the worker. "It was not about the money but because we felt we had no options."

 
At 3/31/2012 9:15 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: "subsidized".

unless you buy an IPHONE for the non-contract full price - the initial price is being subsidized by the carrier.

they essentially set you up on a payment system where if you pay for two years.. they'll make enough off of your other charges to pay for the phone.

But I've read that most carriers are not getting their money fully back and that some of the smaller carriers are actually losing money now.

re: suicide

if you remember back to the early days of the US.... oil and coal companies would send armed thugs to take care of union organizers.

sometimes those armed thugs actually had badges...

but if you have despotic govt that prevents all kinds of liberties including the right to collectively bargain.. is that any better than despotic regimes like Syria or Libya?

Liberty means a lot of things but it includes the right of people to organize to confront entities - as a group rather than as individuals.

 
At 3/31/2012 10:51 AM, Blogger Tom said...

Excessive overtime labor should be voluntary. Workers could be required to work a moderate amount, but after that could opt in or out.

 
At 3/31/2012 12:32 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Only disingenuous white liberals think the Chinese should work less

 
At 3/31/2012 12:42 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Unknown says: "Only disingenuous white liberals think the Chinese should work less."

Not all economies are the same.

What about cutting back on work hours to hire more workers, to boost employment, or at least prevent unemployment?

Of course, that may not work in France.

 
At 3/31/2012 3:04 PM, Blogger Ken said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 3/31/2012 3:04 PM, Blogger Ken said...

How much does an unsubsidized IPHONE cost?

The iPhone is NOT subsidized. The consumer still pays the the full cost, it's just that some of it is paid over a two year contract, instead of up front.

Your way of thinking is like saying that my house is subsidized becaue I didn't pay for it all at once (rather than over a period of 30 years). It doesn't make sense.

Somebody is making some money here and it's obviously not the workers building the phone, eh?

Except that Chinese people have consistently seen their incomes increase over the last few decades.

 
At 3/31/2012 3:55 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

technically.. I agree but practically.. the phone carriers are saying that they cannot charge enough for the plans to fully recoup the cost that the carrier pays for the IPHONE.

I'm all for the Chinese increasing their standard of living..and working overtime when they wish to and not working it if they don't want to.

what individual workers can do (or not) is different than what a unified group of workers can negotiate.

liberty is the ability to organize as workers to have a more level playing field with the employer.

right?

 
At 3/31/2012 5:02 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Remember China=good and Cuba=bad.

In reality, all large Chinese companies are controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) either through voting shares or board seats.

The CCP also controls the police, political and judicial systems.

Does any Western reporter believe they will easily get quotes from worker who will say, "We are overworked." And then those workers lose their jobs and perhaps much more?

There is incredible naiveté here regarding the Chinese system, a sort of fascist-communist mix.

Remember this:

Liu Xiaobo (born 28 December 1955) is a Chinese literary critic, writer, professor, and human rights activist who called for political reforms and the end of communist single-party rule in China. He is currently incarcerated as a political prisoner in China.

Liu served from 2003 to 2007 as President of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, an organization funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, which in turn is almost entirely funded by the US Congress. He was also the President of NED-funded MinZhuZhongGuo (Democratic China) magazine since the mid-1990s. On 8 December 2008, Liu was detained because of his participation with the Charter 08 manifesto. He was formally arrested on 23 June 2009 on suspicion of "inciting subversion of state power."

He was tried on the same charges on 23 December 2009,[6] and sentenced to eleven years' imprisonment and two years' deprivation of political rights on 25 December 2009.
During his fourth prison term, he was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for "his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China."

I do wish Dr Perry and others would apply the same skepticism to China they (rightfully) apply to Cuba.

Yes, it is a fact that China's five-year communist central plans for the economy work better than Cuba's plans. But both are backwaters of political and economic repression.

If you regale China, you are worshipping the success of central planning and the repression of economic and political freedoms. But then maybe that is the GOP way.

 
At 3/31/2012 6:38 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Oh goody, lets work more.

 
At 4/01/2012 7:16 AM, Blogger Ian Random said...

Hopefully, it will drive the workers back to the fields in the country where they can work unlimited overtime in any weather planting rice.

 
At 4/02/2012 6:13 AM, Blogger geoih said...

Quote from PeakTrader: "Wages can increase substantially without an increase in price:"

Price has no relation to cost (i.e., wages). Price is determined by demand and supply. Cost determines profit (or loss).

 

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