So, we're not sure how much bargaining power unions have in a Communist country, but much to our surprise, the Chinese provincial government of Shenzhen has actually demanded
that Hon Hai Precision Industry allow its "iPod City" workers to unionize. Unlike American unions, which are generally organized by trade, the Chinese versions are company-specific, and must be affiliated with the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (or ACFTU) -- a body that has repeatedly been accused of colluding with management and security personnel in breaking up employee-led protests. You might think that the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions -- which had criticized Apple's investigation
and subsequent report
concerning working conditions at the Foxconn plant -- would be pleased with this development, but actually it argues that the ACFTU, as a non-independent body, "cannot be regarded as an authentic voice of Chinese workers." So in the end, are the Foxconn laborers really any better off now than they were before that Daily Mail article
initiated this whole series of events? In reality, probably a little, but not much -- yes there may be some cutbacks in their hours and the dormitories may be a little cleaner, but until China as a whole is able to upgrade everyone's standard of living, the lives of workers in iPod City and countless plants like it will unfortunately remain mostly unchanged.