Foxconn, Samsung face dilemma with plan to cut overtime at Chinese factories
Both companies plan to bring down worker's overtime at their factories to within China's legal limits
IDG News Service - Assembly line workers are logging 12-hour days to churn out the latest handsets for Samsung Electronics at a factory in Huizhou, China.
24-year-old Wang Hong Wei knows what it's like: He and about four to six others would collectively assemble 2,700 Samsung Galaxy S III phones each day at the factory run by HTNS Shenzhen Co. But they could never finish the job within normal working hours.
"They told us we could complete it in ten hours, but ten hours was not enough," Wang said when interviewed in late November. "Every day we kept working, but we couldn't finish."
Long working hours are often cited as one of the major labor law violations occurring at electronic manufacturers in China. But for many workers in the country, the excessive overtime is simply the norm, and even sought after. In exchange, employees receive higher salaries, and companies such as Samsung and Apple supplier Foxconn can ship out more product. But after facing increased scrutiny over working conditions in China, both Samsung and Foxconn have pledged to bring down workers' overtime hours over the next two years.
By July 2013, Foxconn plans to limit the overtime at its factories to the Chinese legal limit of 36 hours per month. Samsung also plans to do the same by the end of 2014 for its supplier factories in the country.
But meeting the goal will mean overcoming serious challenges, which if mishandled could lower the salaries for workers, many of whom are dependent on the extra wages to make a living.
"It will definitely be bad for us if they cut overtime," said Li Xiaoan, a Foxconn worker. "Then our money will be less."
At the Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou, China, workers are assembling Apple's iPhone 5. But already, employees such as Li said on Tuesday that demand for overtime hours at the factory has dried up.
"It's the low season," he said, referring to how demand for shipments of the iPhone 5 has fallen. Now Li works only eight hours a day, and occasionally sees overtime hours and every now and then. During the next few months, he expects his monthly wage will be around 2000 yuan (US$318), a little above the 1800 yuan base wage.
"When I first came here, I was making 3200 yuan, and working 10 hours each day, including two hours overtime," he said.
Labor protection groups are also aware that many workers want to keep their overtime, even as the groups have continually criticized Foxconn and Samsung for the long working hours. "I remember one worker told me, don't report on the overtime. If you talk about overtime, the companies will cut it," said Li Qiang, the founder of New York-based China Labor Watch.
- Silicon Valley's 19 Coolest Places to Work
- Is Windows 8 Development Worth the Trouble?
- 8 Books Every IT Leader Should Read This Year
- 10 Hot Hadoop Startups to Watch
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Aberdeen Group: Marketing Analytics for Manufacturing: Forging Customer Insights There are no recalls for poor marketing. Manufacturers need to get their customer intelligence and messaging right the first time. Learn how.
- The Brave New World of Customer-Centric Manufacturing The Unique Opportunity for Manufacturers to Better Understand their Consumers
- See the Possibilities Utilizing Data Visualization Do you simply want to collect data, or do you want to derive business insights from it? What if you could quickly and...
Changing the Way Government Works: Four Technology Trends that Drive Down Costs and Increase Productivity
This paper discusses four technology-based approaches to improving processes and increasing
productivity while driving down department and agency costs.
- Top 4 Digital Signage Fails Join RMG Networks for a look at four of the most common reasons digital signage fails in corporate businesses. Learn about strategies to...
- Building Tomorrow's Infrastructure Listen to this podcast to discover how Crider Foods worked with PC Connection to update their IT infrastructure, while maintaining compliance and control. All IT Industry White Papers | Webcasts