Out now | Flexible workforces and low profit margins: electronics assembly between Europe and China

Jan Drahokoupil (ETUI), Rutvica Andrijasevic (Univ Bristol, UK) and Devi Sacchetto (Univ. Padua, Italy)


This book investigates restructuring in the electronics industry and in particular the impact of a ‘Chinese’ labour regime on work and employment practices in electronics assembly in Europe. Electronics is an extremely dynamic sector, characterized by an ever-changing organizational structure, as well as cut-throat competition, particularly in manufacturing. Electronics assembly has become notorious for poor working conditions, low unionisation and authoritarian labour relations.
Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics manufacturing service provider, is studied in detail. The company is best known as the main assembler of Apple’s iPhone and iPad and for the harsh working conditions in its mainland Chinese factories. Foxconn has become an important employer also in Europe, establishing factories in Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary and Turkey.
The chapters analyze the labour regime that Foxconn has exported from mainland China to Europe and the factors influencing the adaptation of the firm’s practices in different European countries. The objectives are, first, to investigate the export of work and employment practices from Foxconn’s Chinese to its European subsidiaries and second, to examine whether and how work and employment relations established in mainland China have been adapted to the social actors and institutional context of the European host country. This provides a basis for identifying challenges involved in organizing workers and opportunities for improving working conditions in the electronics industry through labour representation.