Foxconn workers charged over leak of iPad 2 specs

Three workers from the notorious Foxconn plants in Shenzhen have reportedly been arrested for leaking the iPad 2’s design.

According to Digitimes, Apple was alerted to the leak by the fact that seaveral accessory manufacturers were able to offer cases for the iPad 2 ahead of the product itself going on sale.

While some were clearly guessing about the design, others were clearly prepared, rising Apple’s suspicions.

The three workers were arrested at the end of December, and were charged a week ago with violating trade secrets.

Foxconn, which is part of Hon Hai Industries, makes the iPhone, iPad and MacBook for Apple. It also produces products for HP, Dell, Microsoft, Sony and Samsung. It received notoriety last year after a spate of suicides by workers.

The company installed nets to stop employees jumping to their deaths and promised pay rises, although many workers have complained that they’ve failed to materialize.

But pay rise or no pay rise, the reward for details on such a widely-anticipated product as the iPad 2 must be tempting; even the best-paid employees at the plants earn just $300 per month.

And the criticisms of Foxconn just won’t go away. While an investigation into factory conditions in February by Apple itself concluded that things had improved, others beg to differ. In January, a group of campaigning organizations raised a number of questions about health and safety, as well as about worker pay.

“In the aftermath of the suicide tragedies, Foxconn has increased the basic wage for workers with seniority of more than six months. This is a positive development, but a considerable number of workers, including student workers, have not benefited from the pay rise,” says Debby Chan Sze Wan from SACOM, the local research partner of makeITfair.

“At the same time, Foxconn plans to relocate its operations to inland provinces where wage levels are lower than in Shenzhen.”