Why Foxconn Workers Want Even Longer Hours

The Atlantic
Why Foxconn Workers Want Even Longer Hours
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Why Foxconn Workers Want Even Longer Hours

When Foxconn workers complain that their days are too short, they really mean that the pay at the notorious Chinese electronics manufacturer is still too low. Since labor groups came in to the Chinese factory system last year and demanded shorter, more humane shifts for laborers, factory workers have worried that the loss in overtime would effect wages. Eight months later, numerous Foxconn employees have told The Wall Street Journal's Paul Mozor that they work more than the legal limit and would prefer to work even more than that. It's not that these workers love sitting in the same spot for 12 to 15 hours performing the exact same activity. (Many have described the job as tedious and boring before.) This is about getting as much money as possible, as fast as possible. It's exactly because the job sucks that these people want to work overtime. "I don't want to continue to do this forever," one worker told Mozor. The longer the hours in the day, the fewer day the job lasts. Many of Foxconn's workers arrive there from rural parts of China in order to save money and bring it home to their families or to start their own business. Reducing overtime only gets in the way of that goal. 

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A bigger pay increase could mitigate some of that frustration. Foxconn has raised wages three times this year, from a base pay of 2,000 yuan ($321) per month to 2,200-2,500 yuan ($350-$400) per month. With overtime, workers can earn varying amounts of money — the wage calculations there are much less straight forward than here, as The New York Times explained. One worker interviewed by the Journal pulled in about 5,000 yuan (around $800) per month. It's unclear if he worked a legal or illegal amount of hours. Chinese laws limit workers to 49 hours per week, including overtime. With those constraints, the pay increases don't match the decrease in work, according to one Foxconn worker. "We don't know how much our salary will go up. But after being here three years, I don't have much incentive to stay, since my wage probably won't rise much," he told Mozor. 

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