Terry Gou dances with the group of 126 Foxconn employees on April 28. (Photo/Chang Kai-i)
Foxconn chairman Terry Gou, who has often been accused of running "sweatshops" at the company's factories in China said Saturday that there is nothing wrong with working his employees hard as long as no law is broken. The Taiwan-based company is the world's largest contract manufacturer of electronics products and is the chief producer of Apple's iPhone and iPad.
"What's wrong with sweatshops? All farmers sweat before they harvest," said Gou as he met a group of 126 of his Chinese employees who were chosen from his workforce of over one million as a reward for outstanding performance over the last year. The employees each received an iPhone and a bonus of 5,000 yuan (US$800) and were also treated to a trip to Taiwan at the company's expense.
"We sweat and bleed, as long as we comply with the law," Gou said, stressing that the group and its employees deserve what they earn through their hard work.
Rejecting suggestions that the move was intended to improve the company's image after recent negative publicity concerning strikes and conditions at its Chinese factories, Gou said that the employees were all nominated about two or three years ago and the schedule confirmed one year ago. To prove that the trip is not merely something to cover up the current situation, Gou said the company may hold one such event or more for its employees every year.
Gou also said that Foxconn will open more plants in more provinces to allow more employees to work closer to their homes. Cities with a population of 5 million or greater will be the targets for Foxconn to build factories, R&D centers and sales outlets in the future.
Gou said that since China adopted its one-child policy in 1978, the country's population structure has changed tremendously, leaving only one person of working age to support four grandparents in the future. Gou said this problem could only be solved by technology and efficiency.
Earlier this year, Apple commissioned a private labor watchdog to inspect Foxconn's plants in China. The watchdog's findings were mostly favorable about the living and working conditions in the factories, which had been criticized after a spate of suicides among workers in 2010.