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Foxconn Workers On Strike Over iPhone 5 Production

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the take-this-job-and-shove-it dept.

China 184

itwbennett writes "That army of robotic assembly line workers we mentioned yesterday apparently can't get started soon enough. As many as 3,000-4,000 workers are on strike at Foxconn's Zhengzhou factory, upset at stricter quality control requirements with the iPhone 5 and having to work through a national holiday this week. 'According to workers, multiple iPhone 5 production lines from various factory buildings were in a state of paralysis for the entire day,' China Labor Watch said. Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo are both blocking searches in Chinese for 'Foxconn strikes.'"

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184 comments

big surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41563881)

china unhappy.

Re:big surprise (5, Interesting)

The Snowman (116231) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564035)

They'll be even more unhappy once they realize that robots can do their jobs even cheaper than they can. You know it's bad when even mainstream media is picking this up. A few months ago I was watching one of those Nightline/Dateline/Whateverline evening news shows that was talking specifically about Foxconn. At the end they showed the up-and-coming robot that does the work of the Chinese workers and in half the time of a human for half the cost. The reporter asked something along the lines of "what is going to happen when businesses realize they can assemble the gadgets in the U.S. and not pay to ship them across the ocean?"

Re:big surprise (4, Funny)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564089)

But in the US they have a high tax rate, and aren't allowed to just dump their waste in the local river... so that wont happen anyway.

Re:big surprise (4, Insightful)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564153)

Which American companies actually pay American Taxes? Not Google, Apple, Microsoft, General Electric, or any other large company that has the resources to hire good accountants. The cost of waste disposal for an assembly line probably isn't that much.

Re:big surprise (5, Interesting)

tomhath (637240) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564343)

I suppose if you call billions of dollars paid in taxes [factcheck.org] as nothing, then yea, GE paid nothing. Pretty sure it's the same with the other companies, but you can research it yourself.

Re:big surprise (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41564483)

That article doesn't really say quite what you're asserting that it does.

Re:big surprise (5, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year and a half ago | (#41565463)

http://www.ctj.org/taxjusticedigest/archive/2012/02/press_release_general_electric.php [ctj.org]

General Electric's (GE) annual SEC 10-K filing for 2011 (filed February 24, 2012) reveals that the company paid at most two percent of its $80.2 billion in U.S. pretax profits in federal income taxes over the last 10 years.

Following revelations in March 2011 that GE paid no federal income taxes in 2010 and in fact enjoyed $3.3 billion in net tax benefits, GE told AFP (3/29/2011), "GE did not pay US federal taxes last year because we did not owe any." But don't worry, GE told Dow Jones Newswires (3/28/2011), "our 2011 tax rate is slated to return to more normal levels with GE Capital's recovery."

As it turns out, however, in 2011 GE's effective federal income tax rate was only 11.3 percent, less than a third the official 35 percent corporate tax rate.

"I don't think most Americans would consider 11.3 percent, not to mention GE's long-term effective rate of 1.8 percent, to be 'normal,' " said Bob McIntyre, director of Citizens for Tax Justice. "But for GE, taxes are something to be avoided rather than paid."

Pretty sure it's the same with the other companies, but you can research it yourself.

GE is one of 280 profitable Fortune 500 companies profiled in "Corporate Taxpayers and Corporate Tax Dodgers, 2008-2010." The report shows GE is one of 30 major U.S. corporations that paid zero -- or less -- in federal income taxes in the last three years. The full report, a joint project of Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, is at http://ctj.org/corporatetaxdodgers/ [ctj.org] .

The difference between the 47% of Americans who don't pay federal income taxes and GE, is that GE makes billions of dollars per year.

Re:big surprise (1)

arekin (2605525) | about a year and a half ago | (#41565479)

The cost of waste disposal for an assembly line probably isn't that much.

It may be cheaper to pay China to eat our production waste than to make our product and dump their own waste. Either way China wont miss their 7 toed children bathing in toxic waste.

Re:big surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41565613)

hmm might it be more cost effective to just export the waste? How far is the distance between the US mainland and international waters? I'm imagining there are problems with dumping this stuff in the ocean although if we are importing electronics what about exporting the waste instead? I think there are laws on this in Europe although I'm not so sure about the USA. I think you can get around these laws and they are only limiting exporting waste to Africa- not to China anyway.

Re:big surprise (4, Funny)

Tough Love (215404) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564563)

They'll be even more unhappy once they realize that robots can do their jobs even cheaper than they can.

Don't be silly, they'll be building the robots.

It can't be bargained with... (1)

MrSteveSD (801820) | about a year and a half ago | (#41565445)

It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity or remorse or fear and it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are unemployed.

Good for them! (3, Insightful)

s.petry (762400) | about a year and a half ago | (#41563897)

Strike, it's the only power they have. Until they get shot for being on strike that is, or run over by a tank.. this is happening in China you know..

And actually, China lets them strike because it hurts the US more than China. It's not like Apple is going to close the slave labor camps any time soon, even if they lose a few bucks.

Re:Good for them! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41564235)

Strike, it's the only power they have. Until they get shot for being on strike that is, or run over by a tank.. this is happening in China you know..

No, I don't know, throwing a few links would be helpful. China has few human rights when compared to developed nations, but I doubt they'd shoot random people over nothing. "Encouraging" people to not cause trouble is much more efficient in the long term (e.g. you strike you become unemployable; I'm not saying they do this, but it would work better than shooting people). And sometimes the best you can do is do nothing at all, if you push people too hard too often they might strike back.

And actually, China lets them strike because it hurts the US more than China. It's not like Apple is going to close the slave labor camps any time soon, even if they lose a few bucks.

Foxconn workers striking is troublesome for Foxconn, and on a lesser degree for Apple and China. But Apple is an important customer, so I'd bet the one hurt the most, by far, is Foxconn, they might even have to give some discounts to Apple if the strike continues for too long.

I just hope the strikers manage to get something, it's about time the Chinese people can have a share of China's amazing growth.

Re:Good for them! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41565037)

You may be too young to remember the events of Tiananmen Square of 23 years ago. I wasn't. And although I cannot find the picture now, the image of a headless body with bloody tank tread tracks leading away from where the head should have been is something that deeply affected my young self and I remember it quite vividly. (If you're posting from china and can still see this post, I suggest using a foreign proxy for your search about what I'm talking about.)

Re:Good for them! (2)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564309)

You do know that Apple recently opened up manufacturing in Brazil, right?

Re:Good for them! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41564477)

You do know that Apple recently opened up manufacturing in Brazil, right?

Apple only opened the Brazil plants because Brazil wouldn't let them sell iPhones in Brazil unless they did. Don't act like they did it out of the good of their hearts. If that law didn't exist they'd shut down the Brazilian plant faster than you can say "Saint Steve Jobs" and move it back to China.

Re:Good for them! (5, Insightful)

ZorinLynx (31751) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564509)

>Apple only opened the Brazil plants because Brazil wouldn't let them sell iPhones in Brazil unless they did.

Anyone else think that we (the US) should follow Brazil's example?

I mean, there it is, a perfect example of regulation bringing manufacturing jobs back to a country. We could certainly use that right now.

Re:Good for themI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41564767)

No

Re:Good for them! (5, Insightful)

s.petry (762400) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564845)

How dare you speak common sense you protectionist!

While I agree with your point, I have seen anyone that tries to implement common sense laws to protect the US economy labelled and belittled by people that make more profit sending things overseas for cheap labor. If you speak common sense about an economy, you are silenced by propaganda. It's not about the people of the US any longer, it's about the top getting more at all costs (and no, I'm not referring to the upper 10%, more like the upper .1%.

I wrote an article about 20 years ago which was ignored, stating that the shipping of industrial jobs overseas would kill our economy. Hell, I was not alone by a long shot. Numerous economists, philanthropists, etc.. etc.. were already warning of it way before I was. The Ford model worked, and made us prosper. Middle class people spend their money, the upper 1% does not. This is how we get and hold our positions in the economy.

Look at Detroit and Flint. Tons of cash was there for both the upper and middle classes. Every middle class household owned 2 cars, and a mortgage. Increases in pay meant that the middle class purchased snow mobiles, boats, motorcycles, wave runners, hunting gear, fishing gear, "Big Screen TV", etc.. The middle class money tends to be very liquid.

The upper class in Detroit owned houses they rarely stayed in. They go on trips, they don't spend locally. They invest to get more money and property, they don't purchase locally and definitely nothing trivial like a snow mobile or wave runner. If they purchased a boat, it was an investment boat and again not generating money locally. That makes sense, it's how the wealthy remain wealthy and increase wealth.

The lower class in Detroit were all in line to become middle class. They stood outside the auto plants applying all the time, took shop classes, got GEDs and went to school all in hopes of getting to the middle class.

So when we sent all the middle class jobs overseas, the economy collapsed. At first, the wealthy still had money. But in short order, even they lost out. Property values dropped massively sticking everyone that owned property with huge debt and no capital. The lines stopped forming at the plants, and people started dropping like flies out of school. Now once prosperous areas in Detroit are like ghost towns.

All of these things were called out in the 80s, before NAFTA was passed and the plants were moved first to Mexico then to China. Not by me, but by countless economists gave warnings and said "DON'T DO NAFTA!". Those guys were told that they were just being protectionist, if they were heard at all.

Re:Good for them! (3, Funny)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564967)

Chinese worker: $350/month.
Chinese robot (if the article is correct): $175/month.
Unionized US worker including benefits and taxes: $4000/month for doing a worse job slower.

20,000,000 iPhone users in the US paying 4x price for their phone so that 2000 can get jobs: priceless

Brazil is causing small companies trouble though!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41565651)

This might seem like a good idea at first although it ensures small companies don't enter the market. Brazilians can buy Apple- they can't buy ThinkPenguin laptops or a Raspberry Pi . It's screwed up that Brazil has ensured a monopoly / duopoly of the largest or largest players.

What they should do is only enforce this law on large companies or importers. That way there is no issue with small companies getting products to the Brazilian market. The way it is people in Brazil are being done a disservice.

Why strike now? (4, Interesting)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about a year and a half ago | (#41563903)

Couldnt they go on strike the day(s) of the holiday, just return the next day and start working?

Re:Why strike now? (5, Funny)

tqk (413719) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564077)

Couldnt they go on strike the day(s) of the holiday, just return the next day and start working?

Nah. That'd mean double time and a half strike pay. It'd brick the union.

Re:Why strike now? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41564371)

It's not the holiday. It's the company's insistence that the products pass quality control. That's unheard of in Chinese manufacturing.

Re:Why strike now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41564981)

The iPhone5 is harder to make.
Workers get beaten for defects.

Re:Why strike now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41564603)

the holiday last whole week.

Won't someone... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41563907)

Won't someone think of the hipsters?

But.. but.. but.. (0)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about a year and a half ago | (#41563953)

But.. but.. but... I thought by boycotting Apple I was helping the workers!!

Re:But.. but.. but.. (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year and a half ago | (#41563983)

But.. but.. but... I thought by boycotting Apple I was helping the workers!!

Clearly you were [if its true]. That is kind of the point of the article.

Re:But.. but.. but.. (2)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about a year and a half ago | (#41563991)

But.. but.. but... I thought by boycotting Apple I was helping the workers!!

You know what, I totally misread the summary. It's my bad and I apologize. Please mod my post down.

Good for them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41563979)

But to be honest, I hope that both they get what they want AND the iPhone 5's quality goes up. The build quality seems to be pretty hit and miss at the moment. I'm actually thinking of buying a Samsung Galaxy 3, fragile behemoth that it is, just so I don't have to worry about getting a lemon iPhone 5.

Re:Good for them. (1, Funny)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564059)

But to be honest, I hope that both they get what they want AND the iPhone 5's quality goes up. The build quality seems to be pretty hit and miss at the moment. I'm actually thinking of buying a Samsung Galaxy 3, fragile behemoth that it is, just so I don't have to worry about getting a lemon iPhone 5.

I thought everyone was choosing the Galaxy III over the iPhone because of NFC, storage and screen size ;) No wonder Samsung is expecting to earn $7.3bn while Apple are reducing orders on chips and screens.

I hope I have satisfied your off-topic troll comment trying to spin worker abuse as a good thing, with a lie.

Re:Good for them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41564139)

OP here.More power to them, they've picked a good time to strike.

Good to see people standing up, wherever they are. (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564001)

Though I suppose there's some big syndicate behind them, which invariably is not a good thing.

This is as good a forum as any.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41564007)

I've seen a lot of people with iPhones and Samsung Galaxy S3s. Whenever I see a Galaxy S3, I think, how in the fuck can you actually USE that thing? So my question is, do you have first hand experience with the S3, and is it just too ridiculously big?

I'd rather have an Android but will gladly go to the iPhone if it means getting a rocking phone that actually fits in my pocket and doesn't make me look like a dork.

Re:This is as good a forum as any.. (2)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564121)

I've seen a lot of people with iPhones and Samsung Galaxy S3s. Whenever I see a Galaxy S3, I think, how in the fuck can you actually USE that thing? So my question is, do you have first hand experience with the S3, and is it just too ridiculously big?

I'd rather have an Android but will gladly go to the iPhone if it means getting a rocking phone that actually fits in my pocket and doesn't make me look like a dork.

I believe that Android phones come in a variety of shapes and sizes. You may not believe it is true that there is not one true phone. Android phones come with keyboards; projectors; even larger sizes [and smaller ones]; at every price point; game pads; waterpoofing; 2 sim slots. Personally I quite like the HTC S for a good android phone with a smaller screen. ...but then this is another off topic post to try and detract from worker abuse at Apples manufactures.

Re:This is as good a forum as any.. (1)

tqk (413719) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564175)

I'd rather have an Android but will gladly go to the iPhone if it means getting a rocking phone that actually fits in my pocket and doesn't make me look like a dork.

Too late.

Re:This is as good a forum as any.. (1)

Dr. Hellno (1159307) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564985)

I'd rather have an Android but will gladly go to the iPhone if it means getting a rocking phone that actually fits in my pocket

Maybe it's time to trade your oshkosh b'gosh for grown-up pants? You're a big kid now.

Re:This is as good a forum as any.. (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about a year and a half ago | (#41565549)

Maybe it's time to trade your oshkosh b'gosh for grown-up pants? You're a big kid now.

As opposed to 93-pocket cargo pants, which make people really look mature.

this bring them up to US mid 19th century (5, Interesting)

hguorbray (967940) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564011)

when US and European Labor movements really started to assert themselves and address inequities and call the Robber Barons to task.

China has their army and Police -US companies had Police and Pinkertons....the workers still prevailed in the end, although much has been lost recently...

Hopefully it will not be bloody, but they deserve better than they are getting even if it means we might be paying slightly more for the next plastic POS we buy.

I'm just sayin'

Re:this bring them up to US mid 19th century (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564499)

Their 'robber barons'? You mean the companies that moved to China and started production there? Or do you mean the local companies that saved enough money and presented a viable business plan and started working?

Or maybe you actually mean their government, which steals from every Chinese worker by devaluing Chinese money?

Because if you talk about robber barons, you have to make sense, you have to talk about people who take something from those workers without giving them something back that they voluntarily agreed to, and that would be government running inflation and devaluing the renminbi and preventing those very Chinese workers from being able to use their own earnings to buy the very products that they are creating.

--

As to a strike - a private union is all fine as long as there are no laws that force the employer into being obligated to work with it. There has to be freedom of association and it must work both ways. No person has a 'right' to a job being provided by any other person.

Re:this bring them up to US mid 19th century (0)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about a year and a half ago | (#41565181)

You live in a fantasy world. Capitalism brought us the standard of living that we have and it is finally being allowed do the same in China and other places around the world that finally overthrew the collectivist scum who held back the enormous creative energy that only competition among free people can unleash. If unions truly wanted to help the workers they would be protesting in Washington, Beijing and other places where the corrupt ruling class is setting unfair rules to benefit themselves and their cronies and not calling for strikes against companies which are the source of wealth for all of us. Foxconn offers wages far in excess of average wages in China which is why people are queuing up to apply for a job there.

I hope you fucking hipsters are proud (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41564019)

Next time you trend-slaves want to buy a cell phone, try choosing one that won't ruin everyone's holiday.

Re:I hope you fucking hipsters are proud (5, Insightful)

m0nkyman (7101) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564323)

Gladly. Please point me to a cell phone that is made 100% in the first world and I will immediately buy it.

Re:I hope you fucking hipsters are proud (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41564765)

Technically China was Second World

Finland was also Third World

Re:I hope you fucking hipsters are proud (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564835)

Gladly. Please point me to a cell phone that is made 100% in the first world and I will immediately buy it.

...Sony is Japanese and have there own manufacturing plants. That is not forgetting that Samsung manufacture their chips in America, Google is trying to bring manufacturing to America in the form of the Nexus Q.

It is not really that hard to find companies with manufacturing facilities where workers rights are protected, or companies trying to do the right thing...but then your not interested in that your interested in defending Apple, rather than support more ethical companies. The world would be a better place with more ethical consumers.

Re:I hope you fucking hipsters are proud (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about a year and a half ago | (#41565661)

It is not really that hard to find companies with manufacturing facilities where workers rights are protected

I wish that were as true as you may be trying to imply. Workers' rights are rapidly going the way of the dodo bird, especially in the USA. Meanwhile countries who actually respect their workers are facing economic instability due to our runaway unchecked capitalism and the fact that some arrogant bastards on wall street damn near broke the world. This leads to even higher unemployment in countries where workers rights were respected, as their (now former) employers go to places where 18 hour work days for near zero pay are considered acceptable practices.

Re:I hope you fucking hipsters are proud (1)

ZorinLynx (31751) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564527)

Ya'll realize the iPhones, Galaxys, HTCs, etc. are probably not only made in the same country, but in the same building, right?

Sadly there's very little choice in the matter if you want a cel phone.

Re:I hope you fucking hipsters are proud (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564693)

Not really. At least some S2s were made in Korea, for example. Nokias used to be made in Finland (not anymore, unfortunately).

Re:I hope you fucking hipsters are proud (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564719)

Ya'll realize the iPhones, Galaxys, HTCs, etc. are probably not only made in the same country, but in the same building, right?

Sadly there's very little choice in the matter if you want a cel phone.

...are you sure. I am pretty positive that Samsung manufacture their CPU's in America [supports workers rights]. HTC is a Taiwanese manufacture so most of their phones are made there, both use Google OS which famously left china for ethical reasons...and tried to bring Manufacturing back to America with the Nexus Q. That is ignoring the abuses in this instance question are about iPhones not other Phones...but the short response is the ethical consumer simply does not buy Apple products, realistic alternatives are trivial to find.

Ethical alternatives (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41564901)

I spend most of my time in China and Taiwan, whence the following data point, and the reason for my posting anonymously.

Workers on the Apple product assembly lines make the same repetitive motions 2,800 times per day (Macbooks) up to over 3,400 times per day for the tablets and phones. 10 minute breaks every two hours. 10 hour work days. 6 day work weeks. (But, the iphone5 is so successful, the day off is cancelled.) High-school kids in parts of china have been dragooned into serving as operators, with the threat that they MUST do these or not graduate. They get paid $US340 per month, and that's not a lot of money, even in the Chinese hinterlands.

I have two HTC phones, both on the basis of the fact that they were made in Taiwan. I simply will not own products where I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the supply chain is unethical in its treatment of workers.

Re:I hope you fucking hipsters are proud (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564977)

... which famously left China for ethical reasons?...
They left because they could not gain enough marketshare over established local brands.

Re:I hope you fucking hipsters are proud (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | about a year and a half ago | (#41565475)

Keep in mind that Foxconn is a Taiwanese company. That said, they're engaging in the same cutthroat business practices that most Chinese companies would. The distinction is that they make some of the world's most desirable consumer electronics and they're Taiwanese. So the Chinese government is less likely to clamp down and the likelihood of the western media hearing about it is slim. Not that the Chinese government isn't eager to get this strike under control, because it doesn't bode well for them in the long run. Many HTC phones are indeed manufactured in Taiwan where conditions are a lot better. But if you happen to have one made in China, chances are things aren't all that different than at a Foxconn factory.

The mechanization of the manufacturing process is a strong likelihood, especially for higher end products. Whether it reminds in China or moves elsewhere, it's not good for China. I suspect the weakening Chinese economy is a big factor in the strike. I wouldn't be surprised if there's pressure from the top to over deliver in order to keep foreign interests happy.

turns out (4, Insightful)

nimbius (983462) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564029)

the ipod's promise to revolutionize the way we live, only applies to its consumers.

Re:turns out (1)

Guru80 (1579277) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564167)

Oh it's revolutionizing alright, even in the form of a revolution across Chinese factories as they finally are embolden enough to fight for their rights. HOWEVER, those 2-3,000 will be fired and the 1 million lined up for their jobs will be fighting mortal kombat style for the spoils of open jobs.

Re:turns out (-1, Offtopic)

winner41 (2746353) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564809)

With this kind idea of go to bed in time i can boldly say that it what call very interesting in such way of help many people out there. http://deltakitchen-faucets.com/ [deltakitchen-faucets.com]

Re:turns out (1)

router (28432) | about a year and a half ago | (#41565459)

This is awesome! Fake post to slashdot, fake website for kitchen faucets...is this the intarwebs everyone else gets?

I don't have my abuse numbers anymore, can someone rid the net of this scum please?

andy

surprising really (5, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564037)

I don't see how a country with such a large workforce can have any traction in a strike? Foxconn is a huge employer over there. Their working conditions are what most westerners would describe as "sweatshops", but then so are 95% of the rest of the manufacturing plants over there, so despite being unusual for "us", it's not at all uncommon for "them".

I wonder how long it takes for Foxconn to find another 4,000 workers willing to do the job for the pay? I simply can't believe that any of those employees weren't fully aware of what was and could be asked of them. They just want more pay for what's probably more work, and certainly longer work weeks. But if there are three people lined up behind you waiting to do that job for that pay the moment you turn your back, a strike doesn't seem like a good idea.

Strikes and unions just don't make sense for unskilled labor. And just because it's electronics doesn't make it skilled - if you're doing something that could be replaced with a robotic arm, it's not "skilled", skilled refers to mental skills, not physical.

I wish I had more insight into this "chinese holiday" thing though. I get the impression they take it a lot more seriously than we're giving them credit for. I see a lot of the chinese stores going on holiday all at once, it's obviously a widespread thing, maybe that five day vacation is their unwind time for the rest of the year in the sweatshop? In that case I think I can start to understand where it becomes a big deal. Kinda stupid of Apple to expect them to launch a new production line at that time, they had to see that one coming. I would expect them to have had a conversation with foxconn, "can you DO this?" And foxconn either adding a premium to the cost during that time, or sniveling and saying they'll make it happen, to keep their biggest customer. Oh to be a fly on the wall...

Re:surprising really (5, Insightful)

amorsen (7485) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564203)

There aren't that many workers lining up in China any more. Well there is in the interior, but that is not where the factories are (yet). Mass migration from the interior to the coast is no longer very practical.

When you have moved a thousand km away from home and get to see your family a few times a year, you really don't want to lose a day of holiday. You're already likely to spend a day travelling at each end of the holiday.

Anyway, the days of doing low-wage manufacturing in China are almost over. Luckily.

Re:surprising really (5, Insightful)

MalleusEBHC (597600) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564319)

Strikes and unions just don't make sense for unskilled labor. And just because it's electronics doesn't make it skilled - if you're doing something that could be replaced with a robotic arm, it's not "skilled", skilled refers to mental skills, not physical.

Actually, unions make far more sense for unskilled laborers. As an engineer, I don't need a union to bargain for my wages. My bargaining power lies in the fact that my skills are in short supply. Companies must pay me competitive market wages because it would take them years to train someone to replace me. Contrast that with an unskilled laborer. They have no bargaining power by themselves because, by definition, they can easily be replaced by anybody else the company hires. Only by joining with all the other unskilled workers do they gain any sort of bargaining power. A single unskilled worker threatening to quit has no real effect on a factory, but the entire group of laborers can effectively shut down the factory in the short-term.

Unions can be pretty fucked up in practice, but in theory they represent the only way unskilled laborers can gain any sort of bargaining power.

Re:surprising really (2)

thegarbz (1787294) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564971)

A single unskilled worker threatening to quit has no real effect on a factory, but the entire group of laborers can effectively shut down the factory in the short-term.

And because they are unskilled in an economy where people are looking for work you can let them all go and head out to the job market to replace them.

You have to remember lock-outs are just as viable as strikes in industrial dispute. A short term loss is easily absorbed if you manage to suppress the rising cost of your workforce. It's amazing how quickly people back down when they don't bring a paycheck home at the end of the day.

Where I work this was done. The workforce threatened to strike every day and rarely actually striked completely disrupting our production planning. End result is every day they threatened to strike they were locked out. After a few days of no pay the union caved.

Don't assume because someone is an organised group they are all powerful.

Re:surprising really (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#41565267)

And because they are unskilled in an economy where people are looking for work you can let them all go and head out to the job market to replace them.

New people still need to be shown how to do the job, even for unskilled roles. And will take a few days to get up to speed. Not a problem when you're replacing one at a time. But if they all go at once, there's no experienced ones to train the new ones. And where you're taking a workforce of thousands, even if management know how to do all the jobs, it's going to take them a long time to get a new workforce trained and up to speed.

It's amazing how quickly people back down when they don't bring a paycheck home at the end of the day.

The UK miner's strike lasted a year.

Re:surprising really (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41565393)

Don't assume because someone is an organized group they are all powerful.

Don't assume they're powerless either. Both unions and companies are simply groups of people getting together to increase their total market power at the expense of some of their individual freedoms. Both have similar advantages and disadvantages. In this case a relatively small group of people in a relatively large market means that they have to be largely prices takers, not price makers.

Re:surprising really (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41564425)

Strikes and unions just don't make sense for unskilled labor. And just because it's electronics doesn't make it skilled - if you're doing something that could be replaced with a robotic arm, it's not "skilled", skilled refers to mental skills, not physical.

The factory cities are mostly staffed by people who by and large ARE the educated work force of China. Most of the miniature assembly work is semi technical and does require training. Also you are very sadly mistaken about how important the labour movement was to the low paid work force that made North America great! Sounds like you have been drinking far too much Republican coolaid and your sensibilities are really out of whack with what is really going on.

As long as we are led to believe that our so called "intellectual property" is more valuable than real work, the whole consumer driven economy of the so called "skilled West" is going to crash. The Mennonites have it right and knew long ago that we are headed for a disaster with a social system based solely upon unrestrained consumerism and greed. Justified by a perverse Darwinian survival of the richest economic philosophy. That is exactly why some still refuse electricity and cars, including some of my close relatives. We are dooming ourselves as a society with our stupidity and greed, the only bright lights happen when the rich start to give back some of the ridiculous amounts they have hoarded in a gesture of penance before they die. I am not saying the answer is communism like the Chinese, what I am saying is that great employers realise the true value of their employees all the way down to the ones sweeping the floor.

When good employers are being forced by a companies like Walmart to pay less wages or off shore to survive it only goes to prove that our economic system is broken and will only crash down on our heads as very soon we will not be able to pay off our debts and our income to debt ratio will become unsustainable.

Re:surprising really (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41564607)

I wonder how long it takes for Foxconn to find another 4,000 workers willing to do the job for the pay?

The unemployment rate in the city that this strike is happening in was 3% in 2010, so it would probably take them quite a while to find, hire, and train the staff to do this and seems like it would be pretty disruptive to their operation there. And really, if the current batch of workers are getting pissed off at their working conditions, do you really think the next 4,000 are going to think it's fine and dandy? No, they'll get pissed off and probably make the same threats later on.

Re:surprising really (2)

aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564669)

"I wish I had more insight into this "chinese holiday" thing though. I get the impression they take it a lot more seriously than we're giving them credit for. I see a lot of the chinese stores going on holiday all at once, it's obviously a widespread thing, maybe that five day vacation is their unwind time for the rest of the year in the sweatshop?"

Try this BBC video, "China's 'left behind' children growing up without parents" (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19787240).

From the accompanying text: "For many people in China, the mid-autumn festival and National Day holiday, falling within days of each other this year, means a week off work and a chance to spend time with friends and family."

I'm not sure if this is the same holiday the workers are striking over. But this could be a hint that Chinese workers do take their holidays seriously. If you're underpaid and you know you're underpaid, a day or two with your loved ones would be Mastercard priceless. After all, they're one of the reasons you left the farm.

Re:surprising really (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41564699)

The holiday that they didn't get is the Asian version of Thanksgiving. Major celebration with all the fanfare of Thanksgiving here in the US. Piles of food, drink, and families getting together.

Re:surprising really (1)

EnsilZah (575600) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564729)

I imagine that even if it's 'unskilled labor' you still can't take a random person off the street and have them start doing the job on the same day, at the same speed as a veteran worker.
If you give me a hoe and ask me to dig a ditch I could do it but I'd probably take ten times longer than someone who's been doing it for a living for the last five years.

So how long does it take to post an opening, hire enough people, get them up to speed on how the work is done?
If it takes ten days, would that lose you more money than just giving the current proficient workers a day or two off?
What's to ensure that the new workers won't go on strike later?

It's not a strike. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41564091)

It's a "We love this work and low wages" parade. These people love these jobs and would do anything for them. They don't mind the low pay because it's actually high. Now, economists say that the wage there is equivalent to getting about $5/hr in America. However, from what I understand Romney and Co saying, is that $5/hr plus foodstamps and welfare puts a person in a better position than any American millionaire. Truly, the poor are blessed.

So, I must conclude this is a voluntary day off to have a parade in support of wonderful working conditions that every young Chinese person dreams about.

I get that right Apple fanboys?

Like Wearing Fur (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41564107)

When you walk around with an iPhone 5, you might as well be wearing a fox fur coat - the kind with the paws and head done up taxidermy-style, draped over the shoulders.

Nerve Staple 'Em (1)

Aardpig (622459) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564189)

I've said it before, and now I'm saying it again. Nerve stapling all around, or failing that, off to the punishment sphere with the lot!

1st Anniversary of Steve Jobs' Death (4, Interesting)

theodp (442580) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564227)

Neat coincidence, no?

Re:1st Anniversary of Steve Jobs' Death (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41564839)

I agree, we should celebrate that he's dead.

Just wait... (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564349)

...for the Chinese government to come in and do some hard core strike breaking any day now. Workers of the world flee in terror!

Ah, the irony of "The People's Party". Seriously, now, why do we even bother calling China a Communist country any more, it should just officially be changed to a "Totalitarian Bureaucratic Oligarchy".

maybe they're holding it wrong (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564511)

Stricter quality control requirements with the iPhone 5?! So the purple flare really does come standard? And Foxconn doesn't make the maps app but if they did, it might be more accurate, lol. I don't have numbers on iphone failure rates but if the 4s was worse than previous versions as reliability, I could see them cracking the whip (probably literally) on version 5 production. I know that from 2007 to 2009 the macbook quality dropped from 2nd place to 6th so it does seem likely. If you're curious, an ASUS, MSI, Toshiba, Sony, and Samsung are all now more reliable than a macbook, and at most 1/2 the price.

Re:maybe they're holding it wrong (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about a year and a half ago | (#41565451)

If you're curious, an ASUS, MSI, Toshiba, Sony, and Samsung are all now more reliable than a macbook, and at most 1/2 the price.

Citation?

Reality check (1, Insightful)

Tough Love (215404) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564515)

Consumer disk storage is 6 cents a gig. Still a factor of 16 less than flash. As long as that ratio holds there will be no overnight takeover of the storage market by flash. Instead it's a creeping progression largely driven by the mobile market, outside of which the vast majority of mass storage being sold is still rotating disks. Sure a few geeks like me have begun to swap out their noisy, slow hard disks for ssd, but that's a few geeks. The PC market, the cloud, and enterprise storage, which together completely dwarf the mobile segment in terms of capacity, will continue to prefer cheap over fast and quiet for some time to come.

Quality control issues (5, Informative)

juicegg (1683626) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564587)

Here's more relevant information about the reasons for the strike: http://www.businessinsider.com/foxconn-workers-go-on-strike-2012-10 [businessinsider.com] The important bit is that workers are striking not because they are against stricter quality, but because tighter quality checks meant they must work harder to produce iPhone components presumably at the same rate as earlier models. And they were told to do this without additional training.Victory for workers would mean Foxconn hiring more workers and less exhausting working pace for all workers there.

Re:Quality control issues (2)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564605)

The important bit is that workers are striking not because they are against stricter quality, but because tighter quality checks meant they must work harder to produce iPhone components presumably at the same rate as earlier models.

And what better way to increase quality than to squeeze more productivity out of workers?

But Apple says they're happy! (1)

fluffernutter (1411889) | about a year and a half ago | (#41564997)

Apple wouldn't obscure the truth would they?

Re:But Apple says they're happy! (1)

LodCrappo (705968) | about a year and a half ago | (#41565141)

Apple doesn't obscure truth, they simply create new truth as needed. 1984 wasn't like "1984", but that was only because Apple hadn't perfected the technology yet.

Why are we still using people as labor? (1)

hessian (467078) | about a year and a half ago | (#41565151)

Machines do a better job of repetitive tasks, and humans should be (if you believe all the promises made about technology a century ago) healthier, working less, and spending more time in pursuit of self-fulfillment.

It's time to liberate ourselves. Put the robots in the factories, and put the humans back on the couch (with crisps, remote control, maybe a bluetooth keyboard and game controller).

Re:Why are we still using people as labor? (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | about a year and a half ago | (#41565421)

Because the robots can't do everything ... and how do you motivate people to do the work which does have to be done? (Personally I think we should be cutting work weeks.)

Foxcunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41565289)

Apple, and by extension, Foxconn is a cunt. Anyone who buys their products is a cunt. Don't be a cunt.

Robots deserve a fair wage! (1)

McDrewbie (530348) | about a year and a half ago | (#41565305)

Robots should be compensated at a fair wage. For several reasons: 1. So that humans can still get jobs (albeit crappy ones) 2. So when the Robots become sentient, they can't hold being made unpaid slaves as a grievance against the human race. 3. So plutocrats just can't fire/low ball every human worker.

Quality (1)

microbee (682094) | about a year and a half ago | (#41565465)

So, the US consumers (us) complain about scratches caused by rubbing keys on the iPhone 5, which probably caused the whole "stricter quality control" thing, and then turn around and complain about the stricter quality control thing?

No wonder customers are always right.

hyperbole and FUD as usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41565561)

I'm sure there are legitimate grist for CLW to chomp on but this just sounds like their usual bullshit.

upset at stricter quality control requirements with the iPhone 5

How are assembly line workers going to influence quality significantly after the fact of design freeze and production commencement?
Are they inserting the board upside down into the case?

This latest incident followed tighter rules to prevent tiny indentations on the phones and scratches to the phones' frames and back covers. The new iPhone 5 is said to be more susceptible to such markings.

Are you fuckin kidding me ITWORLD?
So the assembly line workers are now responsible for hardening plastic and steel alloying?

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