Foxconn hires Burson-Marsteller to hit out at underage worker claims -

Foxconn Technology Group has denied claims from a Chinese worker's rights group that it uses child labour in any form.

TechEye has been reporting how Hong Kong-based nonprofit Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) complained that Apple tipped off Foxconn that the inspectors were coming and executives assigned child workers elsewhere.

According to a SACOM report, 16- and 17-year olds are allowed to work under Apple's supplier code of conduct but with special restrictions on types and duration of their work, which Foxconn allegedly ignores.

However, a Foxconn spokesperson has told us that the company is committed to honouring and respecting the codes of conduct of its customers, like Apple, and it takes these things very seriously.

There is no doubt that Foxconn is indeed taking things seriously. The Foxconn spokesperson comes from none other than spin masters Burson-Marsteller, which is a global public relations company which specialises in dealing with enormous PR disasters.

Burson-Marsteller has handled Tylenol poisonings, and, according to Corporate Watch, the Bhopal disaster, and the Three Mile Island. It represented the private military group Blackwater which was accused of being gung-ho against the residents of Baghdad.

There can't be many PR companies which have had clients like the  Argentinian military junta led by General Jorge Videla who helped 35,000 people to disappear. Burson-Marsteller looked after the image of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu and Saudi Arabia after it was pointed out that most of the September 11 attackers were from that country.

Anyway,  Foxconn is telling us that it has strict recruitment regulations to ensure full compliance with worker age regulations and laws.

"We have sufficient access to workers who are of legal age and there is no incentive for us to break our own strict policies and Chinese law on the matter. Let us be very clear, Foxconn does not employ, in any capacity, any underage workers," the spokesperson said.

Foxconn waded into SACOM for trying to find fault with the 16 percent to 25 percent compensation increase that was given to Foxconn assembly line workers in China.

"It is a clear sign that SACOM is not interested in seeing actions that bring real benefit to workers in China. As such, they do a disservice to those companies who do provide competitive wages and benefits," Foxconn said.

According to Foxconn, it had increased wages throughout its operations in China to keep its reputation of being a high payer in the country.

Higher wages mean that it can compete for employees and it is a key reason why Foxconn has one of the highest employee recruitment and retention rates in China, so it goes.

Contrary to SACOM's statements, said Foxconn, it has a high staff retention rate thanks to the fact that 75 percent of its assembly line workers in Shenzhen are getting paid well for their work.

"Foxconn Employees recognise that the picture SACOM paints of our operations is not at all accurate," Foxconn insists.

Foxconn insists that it is paying compensation that is significantly higher than government-mandated wage levels and as high or higher than others in the industry in the same location.

In a sideways swipe to SACOM, Foxconn is working with "credible outside organisations such as the Fair Labor Association" to "ensure that our over a million employees in China have a safe and positive working environment and compensation and benefits that are competitive to everyone else."

Foxconn top brass Terry Gou has been quoted as saying: "Hungry people have especially clear minds". Terry Gou also http://news.techeye.net/business/foxconn-says-sorry-for-calling-employees-animals allegedly said, speaking at a zoo in Taipei: "I have a headache how to manage one million animals."