Foxconn Labor Strategy Emblematic of China’s Growing Influence

A pair of University of Padua researchers have written a really interesting comparison of Foxconn’s management practices in Turkey and the Czech Republic versus those in China.

Among the findings:

  • Foxconn relies heavily on a temporary work staff in the CR, where 40% of its 9,000 workers are temporary, but all its 350 staff in Turkey are direct.
  • In both countries, Foxconn’s strategy is to drive down labor costs.
  • Foxconn leans heavily on the respective countries for financial support in the way of tax rebates, worker hiring rebates, tax holidays and other incentives.
  • Foxconn actively seeks to minimize the influence of worker unions.

The researchers say the emergence of China is having a direct impact on labor practices elsewhere, and global production is inseparable from “social reproduction.” It’s worth a read.

How Much Would You Pay?

Would you be willing to pay for more “fair-trade” electronics?

The host of This American Life, a public radio show based in Chicago, revives that debate in a recent segment on Mike Daisey —  the author of The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs  and his visit to Shenzhen (so polluted, it looks like “Bladerunner threw up on itself”).

The issue over China’s labor practices, the show finds, boils down to that question.