Apple-Foxconn Labor Scandal. Free Essay Example

Published: 2023-01-22
Apple-Foxconn Labor Scandal. Free Essay Example
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  Company Stress Mental disorder Business ethics Employment law
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1787 words
15 min read

Since its inception in the year 1976, Apple Company has grown over the years into one of the most significant and valuable firms across the globe. With over three hundred retail stores spread across the world, Apple Company has a large consumer base in demand for its wide range of products. Therefore, to efficiently satisfy the needs of its consumers, Apple has a legally binding contractual agreement with Foxconn Company; the most prominent private supplier and manufacturer of electronic products on contract across the globe. Initiated by a Taiwanese national by the name Terry Gou, Foxconn manufactures as well as supplies different Apple products such as iPhones. Over the years, Foxconn has emerged as the leading and primary manufacturer of Apple products as well as products for other globally recognized companies such as Samsung and Amazon. However, in recent years, Apple and Foxconn have suffered unprecedented global backlash as a result of a massive labor scandal. In January 2010, workers from the assembly-line began a spree of committing suicide (Chan & Pun, 2010). One after the other, employees threw themselves both at day and night from the rooftops of towering buildings located within Foxconn's facility as a show of desperation as well as a demonstration against poor working conditions at Foxconn (Chan & Pun, 2010). As a result, there were 18 identified attempts to commit suicide, whereby 14 of them were successful (Chan & Pun, 2010). Moreover, another 20 were successfully prevented, which otherwise would have increased the overall number of suicides to 34 (Chan & Pun, 2010). As the high rates of suicide attempts led to the Apple-Foxconn labor scandal, the write-up will discuss the ethical, legal, and industry related business issues as well as the solutions for the case. Moreover, it will also evaluate the social values of the resolutions and the implications and personal evaluation of the case for the future.

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Ethical, Legal and Industry Related Business Issues

With such a high number of employees committing suicide in protest of the working conditions at Foxconn, there were ethical, legal as well as industry related business issues of controversy in the Apple Foxconn labor scandal as this write-up depicts.

Ethical Issues

As described above, out of a total of 18 suicide attempts, 14 of them were successful. Such cases have been directly linked to the working conditions at Foxconn's facilities. This particular factor forms the basis of the ethical controversy regarding the Apple Foxconn labor scandal as Foxconn Company has been accused of subjecting its employees to poor and un-conducive working environments in addition to employing a prohibited labor force (Chen et al., 2018). Usually, employees at Foxconn tend to work for extended hours under conditions which are detrimental to their health. For instance, an ordinary employee at the company works for more than 12 hours each shift with only a small duration of time allocated for resting in between shifts (Chan & Pun, 2010). However, the limited rest time consequently causes the employees to struggle with the pressure of work while at the same time suffering from accumulated exhaustion (Chan & Pun, 2010). Moreover, during work hours, the company's management strictly prohibits its employees from talking to each other as it would lead to a negative record (Chan & Pun, 2010). Even worse, Foxconn Company has been engaged in child labor as a means of cutting costs and maximizing profits regardless of the prohibition of child labor across the globe ("Illegal Student Labor," 2017).

Legal Issues

Regarding the legal issues of controversy in the Apple Foxconn labor scandal, the company was accused of disregarding various internationally recognized labor laws (Porter, 2017). Firstly, the company uses illegal forms of labor as employing children or interns posted at Foxconn as part of their educational studies all intending to cut costs and resultantly maximize profits ("Illegal Student Labor," 2017). Secondly, the company exposes its employees to working conditions which are unsafe in addition to overworking them. Employees at Foxconn customarily work for over 60 hours a week, which is 20 hours more than the legally stipulated 40 hours weekly under Chinese labor laws (Huvelle & Baskir, 2013). Also, employees work under harmful conditions whereby buildings lack adequate channels for ventilation in addition to working without the necessary gears for protection which consequently contributes to loss of life due to dust explosions or the inhalation of harmful substances such as n-hexane (Huvelle & Baskir, 2013). Moreover, for the extra hours which employees are at work, the company does not offer fair compensation for working overtime, which is also illegal in the Chinese constitution (Huvelle & Baskir, 2013).

Industry-Related Business Issues

For the industry related business issues at controversy regarding the Apple Foxconn labor scandal, they incorporate the aspect of human resource management, whereby Foxconn faces accusations of poor management of its employees (Porter, 2017). The company tends to treat its employees as soldiers in a military camp who must adhere to strict rules and regulations as well as suffer the severe consequences of disobedience. For instance, during work hours, employees are strictly under instructions not to communicate with each other as such an act would lead to a bad overall performance record (Chan & Pun, 2010). Moreover, in case of a mistake, managers tend to humiliate the employees by publicly scolding them in the presence of their colleagues or forcing them to write an apology letter (Chan & Pun, 2010).

Solutions to the Apple-Foxconn Labor Scandal

After experiencing negative publicity that led to a global backlash, the two giant companies Apple and Foxconn both involved in the labor scandal made different decisions and took some steps intending to resolve the issue at hand as this essay will portray. In general, the labor scandal was fixed by Apple Company commissioning an internal audit within all Foxconn facilities to establish the state of working conditions for employees (Huvelle & Baskir, 2013). After the review was complete, Apple went further an announced to the world that it would commit a large sum of its revenues for purpose of improving working conditions across all facilities run and managed by Apple through Foxconn Company (Huvelle & Baskir, 2013). The sentiments were also shared by Foxconn, which also promised to dedicate a significant portion of its revenues to improve working conditions within its facilities.

Therefore, working in collaboration with its partner Apple, Foxconn presented a wide range of specific solutions that the company believed would resolve the various controversial issues surrounding the scandal at hand. For instance, one of the most contentious issues in the scandal was the employment of children as well as interns as part of the labor force. Therefore, for this case, Foxconn announced that it had stopped entirely using illegal labor that is prohibited across the globe (Huvelle & Baskir, 2013). Moreover, the organization indicated that it had put in place measures that would ensure that the employment of minors and interns would never happen again at the firm.

Another issue of controversy was the working conditions in which Foxconn subjected its workers. In addition to overworking and underpaying them, Foxconn Company exposed its employees to hazardous working conditions. Therefore, in this case, the company announced that no employee would work for more than 49 hours every week, including overtime hours (Huvelle & Baskir, 2013). Moreover, the firm pledged that it would also increase the wages of its employees at a rate of 20% across the board (Huvelle & Baskir, 2013). Such a solution indicates a shift from the common phenomenon whereby employees at Foxconn would customarily work for an extra 80 hours every month, thus reducing the accumulation of exhaustion among workers (Huvelle & Baskir, 2013).

Last but not least, the company was also struggling with accusations surrounding the unfair compensation of employees for the extra hours they spent at work. For instance, previously, employees would only acquire monetary compensation for an additional 30 minutes they were at work. Such an aspect tends to mean that an employee who did not complete 30 minutes of overtime would not receive any compensation (Chan & Pun, 2010). Therefore, in response, Foxconn announced that all its employees would henceforth receive fair compensation for any overtime hours spent working for the firm (Huvelle & Baskir, 2013). Moreover, the organization also announced that it would settle all previous debts that were unpaid to employees for working overtime outside the legally stipulated working hours (Huvelle & Baskir, 2013).

Value of the Apple-Foxconn Labor Scandal Resolutions

Regardless of the many critics who would argue that the solutions presented by Apple and Foxconn are not useful or meaningful in any way, this paper will exhibit the social value of the various resolutions already depicted in this write-up.

Social Values

The wide range of solutions presented by the two giant companies would have different social values as exhibited below. For instance, the company proposed an increase in wages at a rate of 20% for all employees across the board (Huvelle & Baskir, 2013). Such a resolution would be socially valuable as it would help improve the living standards for the employees working at Foxconn as well as their families whom they tend to send some money (Ullah et al, 2017). As different experts across the globe argue, an increase in wages for the ordinary employees enables individuals and their families to escape extreme poverty as well as reduce dependency on aid from government or charity organizations which resultantly translate to improved standards of living (Blank & Schmidt, 2001).

Moreover, an increase in wages would also be socially valuable as it would work towards improving employee morale as well as how they view and consider the organization they work (Ullah et al, 2017). Different experts across the globe support this particular opinion as they tend to argue that an increase in wages serves as an encouragement and motivation to the employees (Blank & Schmidt, 2001). According to such experts, employees would become encouraged and motivated as increased wages translates into a feeling of being wanted, loved, and most of all, valued (Blank & Schmidt, 2001).

Furthermore, the companies in question also promised that they would reduce the working hours for their labor force as a solution to the accusations of overworking employees. Therefore, similar to all other resolutions developed; this particular solution would also be socially valuable as it would help improve the health of the employees at Foxconn Company (Ullah et al, 2017). Such an idea is well supported by medical experts such as psychologists and psychiatrists who argue that working for fewer hours works towards reducing stress levels as individuals tend to have enough time to rest or engage in other activities which divert one's attention from the daily obligations of work (Blank & Schmidt, 2001). Therefore, reduced stress levels would translate into a better mental as well as a physical status, which thus tends to improve an individual's overall health (Blank & Schmidt, 2001).


As depicted above, the Apple-Foxconn labor scandal attracted international backlash as it had controversial ethical, legal as well as industry related business issues.

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