22 Aug 2022


Unethical Working Conditions at Foxconn

Format: MLA

Academic level: College

Paper type: Essay (Any Type)

Words: 674

Pages: 2

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Last year August another story on bad working conditions featured on BBC news. The story reported by Hanna Yusuf was about Costa Coffee franchise workers “not treated like humans” as the headline read. The workers' complaints include managers’ alleged refusal to pay for annual or sickness leave, retention of tips and working outside contracted hours. The employees also complained they work for an average of 60 hours a week despite being contracted to work for 48 hours as they are expected to arrive at the stores as early as 5:30 in the morning. The employees at certain stores claimed they regularly worked 13-hour shift with 20 minutes breaks. With such serious complaints I do not think that Maitland’s arguments can be used to show that the working conditions at Costa Coffee stores are morally acceptable. Maitland’s arguments are based on compensations based on market levels without considering the fairness of such compensations, the nature of work and even the working conditions. The employees’ complaints are basically on exploitation and violation of their work contracts as they work on the terms contrary to the ones in their contracts. 

The video from Foxconn industries presents various unethical work conditions from long working hours to low wages. Although there is no evidence of forced labor from the video the bad working conditions have serious implications on the workers' social and even mental health. Apple products are some of the best electronic devices in the market with most of these products being manufactured in Foxconn factories in China. Considering the violations of works ethics in Foxconn industries as presented in the video is it ethical for a company like Apple to rely on these companies to make their products? 

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From the Foxconn case, there is more than a violation of work ethics the company also violated labor laws and human rights as there are cases of suicide. I believe a Utilitarian ethical approach would effectively solve the problems presented in the case, therefore I would choose an ethical approach that will yield the greatest good for the majority (Mills, 2016). Foxconn industries employ millions of people who depend on these industries to make a living, hence shutting down their operations will severely affect thousands if not millions of people in China. Consequently, companies such as Apple and Samsung should not cease producing their products in these factories. However, they should advocate for better working conditions and increased wages for these employees. 

Foxconn as a company has a reputation to protect, thousands of people in China depend on their factories to earn a living. Apple being the largest technology company, with the strongest brand recognition globally, have better chances and resources to negotiate for better working conditions and compensation for Foxconn workers. If Apple terminates its engagements with Foxconn industries it will find another factory to produce its products. On the other hand, if Apple withdraws its productions from Foxconn it is not only the factory owners that will suffer but millions of Chinese on their payroll. Evidently, shutting down Foxconn or pushing Apple to stop its productions in Foxconn industries will not be in the best interest of the majority. Therefore, the best ethical action to take in this case is to urge Foxconn to improve their working conditions by employing more workers to avoid long working hours, improve workers' meals, increase their wages and improve their worker’s housing conditions. The implementation of these recommendations will not only protect the image of Foxconn and Apple but will also change positively the lives of millions of people working in these factories. The judgment, in this case, is supported by the Utilitarianism approach which maintains that the most ethical choice is the one that benefits the majority (Mills, 2016). 

Somebody would argue that Foxconn violated work ethics, labor laws and human rights considering cases of suicides reported at the factory and they deserve to pay for the harm they have caused their employees. Somebody would say that the application of Utilitarianism, in this case, is not in the best interest of the majority instead it is in the interest of Foxconn factories since they remain operational and continue making profits. Such arguments are wrong because taking extreme measures on these factories could lead to job loss for millions of people working in these factories consequently loss of livelihood and source of income for thousands of households in China. 


Mill, J. S. (2016). Utilitarianism. In  Seven masterpieces of philosophy  (pp. 337-383). Routledge. 



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StudyBounty. (2023, September 14). Unethical Working Conditions at Foxconn.


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