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Foxconn CEO Guo Tai-ming insists his company isn't running sweatshops. His company makes the majority of Apple's products, as well as a variety of PC and gaming console motherboards. There have been nine suspected suicide deaths at his company's plants thus far this year.  (Source: CCTV)
Foxconn brings more Buddhist monks to release souls of dead Apple plant workers from purgatory

A ninth Foxconn worker fell to his death today just three days after the last fall.  That brings the total to 11 falls at the Shenzen plant, which primarily manufactures Apple's iPads, iPhones, and iPods (other Foxconn locations manufacture motherboards for Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft game consoles and for personal computers).

The deceased was a 19-year-old male.  The fall occurred around 6:30 a.m., about the same time another young male fell to his death last Friday.

Last year, Foxconn's plant workers had a suicide rate far below the average for rural China, which has one of the world's highest suicide rates.  Last year, the company only had three suicides -- and one of those three was a suspected murder (of an employee who lost an iPhone prototype) that was eventually deemed "conclusively" to be a suicide.

However, this year, a string of employees have been losing their lives in apparent suicides, falling off high windows and balconies in the Shenzhen factory town.  Shenzhen holds anywhere from 330,000 to 420,000 employees.

There's some question over whether the employees are not committing suicide, but rather falling to their deaths from sheer exhaustion.  The company has reportedly been forcing employees to work long hours of overtime -- often unpaid -- to satisfy demand for the iPhone.  The employees spend most of the day standing and reportedly can barely stand by the day's end.

Yet another question is whether Foxconn's policy of security harassment of employees had any role in the deaths.  Apple demands unparalleled security for its production facility and Foxconn has responded by recruiting a reportedly thuggish and brutal security detail. 

A video recently leaked of guards at another Foxconn plant pushing employees and pulling one employee aside and roughing him up.  Shenzhen's security staff beat up one reporter who was trying to interview employees.

Foxconn's CEO Guo Tai-ming finally addressed the suicides, speaking to Chinese reporters today.  In the short interview he said that his company was struggling to deal with the 800,000+ employees it currently has spread out across a couple of massive factory complexes.

He refuted claims that the Shenzhen factory was a "sweatshop".  In the interview he stated:

We are definitely not a ‘Sweatshop’ manufacturer. There are about 800,000 employees in China’s Foxconn, it is difficult for us to handle such a huge production team. We have (the) confidence to stabilize the whole situation.

Many of the management issues, we must only (take action) instead of talking about it, but we have always done well on (that). The press media always loves to report Foxconn’s issues, if there are really problem behind the company, it already (have fallen apart), it will not wait until now. At the moment, a lot of things cannot be said. We are quietly doing (what we can to solve the case).

Foxconn will now be playing Buddhist music on its assembly lines to try to soothe malcontent workers.  It also is reportedly bringing in the Master of Buddhist Association of China to help counsel workers and release the souls of the dead workers from purgatory.



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Rotten Apples
By XSpeedracerX on 5/25/2010 12:33:35 PM , Rating: 3
How can stevie wonder get all sanctimonious about the android being a porn phone and freeing us all from its filth when his phones are manufactured under brutal suicide inducing working conditions using, in some cases, child labor?

Yeah I know, apple's not the only smartphone manufacturer taking advantage of the third world, but I don't hear any of the others crowing on about their superior morality either.




RE: Rotten Apples
By AssBall on 5/25/2010 12:51:32 PM , Rating: 4
Didn't you hear?

Forcing Chinese people to commit suicide is not an issue, it's a FEATURE!


RE: Rotten Apples
By Iaiken on 5/25/2010 1:29:07 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
using, in some cases, child labor


I hate a lot of Apples tactics, policies and other BS, but I have to ask if you've got any proof to substantiate that claim?


RE: Rotten Apples
By XSpeedracerX on 5/25/2010 2:18:04 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
I hate a lot of Apples tactics, policies and other BS, but I have to ask if you've got any proof to substantiate that claim?


http://www.dailytech.com/Apple+Reveals+Child+Labor...

Guess I'm the only one who reads the site?


RE: Rotten Apples
By grenableu on 5/25/2010 2:39:04 PM , Rating: 4
So, out of several million workers in several different companies, Apple found a grand total of 11 people, all less than one year from being of legal age, and none who were still working when Apple checked.

And you condense that down to: "ZOMG! Apple is using child labor!"

You want a lollipop for that one?


RE: Rotten Apples
By The0ne on 5/25/2010 3:15:29 PM , Rating: 2
I'll take that lollipop and ask you to hand over your underage child/niece/nephew so I can have her/him shipped to work at one of our manufacturer. IF you get her back, pray she is still the same. Hey, like you said, what's a few...in this case just 1 child.

NOW HAND HIM/HER OVER!


RE: Rotten Apples
By grenableu on 5/25/2010 3:24:05 PM , Rating: 2
Since the kids in question didn't get "shipped" anywhere, but applied themselves so they could avoid the much worse conditions of agricultural work, I'd say you don't have a leg to stand one. Is sending them back jobless and penniless to the rice fields really a good solution?

Anyway, you're ignoring the real point here, which is that 11 cases out of a couple million shows this isn't any sort of systemic problem at all.


RE: Rotten Apples
By whiskerwill on 5/25/2010 3:55:02 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Is sending them back jobless and penniless to the rice fields really a good solution?
That's the whole bleeding heart outlook on social problems. Do what feels good, rather than what makes sense.

Working conditions in most Chinese factories are 100 years behind the US, yeah. But working conditions everywhere ELSE in China are still in the 18th century. That's why people are flocking to places like Foxconn.


RE: Rotten Apples
By The0ne on 5/25/2010 5:24:57 PM , Rating: 2
And you're ignoring my point that it's only 1 of your kid/nieces/nephew that I like to be in this condition. That's 10 less, that's even more pointless than 11 cases of the millions. You shouldn't even be arguing with me over this but simply hand the kid over.

But lastly you are correct, us fat, lazy, well-off Americans (even the homeless) fair much better than those crazed 3rd world countries. And since they are so freaking poor anyhow, lets just bring them over here for child prostitution so they can earn a much better wage. Anything is better than going home to agriculture right. It's 0.001% better mind you and that's good enough for you and me!


RE: Rotten Apples
By Schrag4 on 5/26/2010 9:42:34 AM , Rating: 2
You're still not getting the point that others are trying to make. If I actually lived there, I'd be happy that my kid/nieces/nephews got a job in these conditions - because it would be better than the alternative. And so would you.

No, I wouldn't ship my kids from the modern society that we're in now to that part of the world. That would be a downgrade for them. For people that live in that part of the world, though, working in that factory is still an upgrade. What you're asking is that they not be allowed to work there, and in essence, forced to endure EVEN WORSE conditions.

I'm not advocating child labor or anything. I'm just pointing out the harsh reality that you seem to be ignoring. Foxconn is a terrible place to work, nobody is suggesting otherwise. But it must smell like roses to people that have tried other work in that area.


RE: Rotten Apples
By theapparition on 5/25/2010 9:29:47 PM , Rating: 2
Not to interject, but do you really "believe" the paperwork on children in China. Those 11 who got caught may have only been the ones who documents hadn't been forged properly.

Oh, don't believe me? Well considering the China just had one of it's Olympic medalists stripped for forged documents (underage), I would say it's not a rare occurance. A second medalist's age was determined as inconclusive. That was from the 2000 Olympics IIRC. The IOC also has investigations into 2004 and 2008 Olypmpic gymnasts.

That's the government doing this, do you think it's any stretch that large Chinese corporations can fudge documentation as well. Considering that most areas in China don't require registration of children (and many are hidden), then I can certainly believe its a far more endemic problem then the 11 that got caught.


RE: Rotten Apples
By JasonMick (blog) on 5/25/2010 2:38:27 PM , Rating: 2
As the above op points out, Apple's own internal audit said that child labor was being used to manufacture Apple products or components for Apple products (without Apple's knowledge) at some partners. The report did not name the company/companies involved, so it is impossible to know whether Foxconn (Apple's largest supplier) was involved.

Apple claims that it is taking steps to address the situation and has terminated contracts with some suppliers. Obviously it has not, and cannot practically, give Foxconn the boot, without massive financial impact.

Is Apple a positive example for reporting these problems, when many of its peers (Microsoft, Dell, Nintendo, etc -- who all have motherboards built by Foxconn) reportedly cast a blind eye to them? Or is it setting a poor example by allowing this kind of activity in the first place (due to negligent supervision) while at the same time preaching a moralistic higher ground (such as Apple CEO Steve Jobs recent moralistic rant on porn)?

That issue is open to debate, and I'm sure many of you have opinions in both directions.


RE: Rotten Apples
By Iaiken on 5/25/2010 3:04:16 PM , Rating: 2
Apple does very little right in my eyes, but performing a voluntary internal audit that then resulted in the resolution of the situation seems to have been the right move considering the offenders were 3rd party contractors.

Doing business in China is a sordid affair.

If you wanted to get something done about it using legal avenues you would have to bribe the right people. Why? Because in many cases these same people were bribed to turn a blind eye in the first place. Even if all they did was put pressure on the contractor to release the children from employment it is more than most companies do. Only you won't have much leverage because you'll face the same problems with most (if not all) of the alternative Chinese contractors.

So you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't.

What blows my mind is that Apple can make an iPhone for $179 and make an average $1680 off each one over the life of the end user contract. That's like a corporate wet dream come true!


RE: Rotten Apples
By Iaiken on 5/25/2010 3:33:30 PM , Rating: 2
The other problem with this entire outlook is that the main reason for child labour laws is to enforce the primacy of education.

This is where pushing our values on China becomes a slippery slope as many of these child labourers would not have received an education regardless and so the entire primacy argument is moot. It then devolves into an argument of "You're too young to work so you're just going to have to do nothing."

Once upon a time in America, people as young as 14 worked the coal mines. Later the minimum age became 16 and now 18.

In Canada, I worked picking fruit in the summer as a student from age 14 to 16. I worked summers at the same steel fabricator as my dad from 17-18. Both kept me in great shape and taught me a lot about myself, like the fact that I wanted to do well in school so that I didn't HAVE to work in a factory. This was all fully complicit to the labor laws of Ontario at the time because I was not a full-time employee.

The point is, out of a massive workforce of 400,000+ employees, only a handful were determined to be below the legal age (and even then only barely). When I compare that to shaping, welding and cutting tons of steel for 50 hours a week in 100+ degree heat, manufacturing iPods is a cake walk.

Once you bring in the argument of circumstance, it pushing things even further into those grey areas. What if these 15 year olds only option was to get a job to support themselves or starve? People DO still starve to death all the time in rural China and unless you have land with which to become a farmer there are few other options due to lack of education.


RE: Rotten Apples
By grenableu on 5/25/2010 3:42:03 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
so the entire primacy argument is moot. It then devolves into an argument of "You're too young to work so you're just going to have to do nothing."
It's a good point, but they won't be doing nothing, they'll be working in the rice fields instead, or gathering bird nests, or working on tiny dangerous fishing boats, or any of the other jobs most poor chinese kids start by age 14.


RE: Rotten Apples
By whiskerwill on 5/25/10, Rating: 0
RE: Rotten Apples
By smackababy on 5/25/2010 1:45:47 PM , Rating: 2
That would hold a lot of water unless you look at the demographic of who is killing themselves. Most of China's suicides is among the unemployed and the elderly.


RE: Rotten Apples
By whiskerwill on 5/25/2010 1:57:49 PM , Rating: 3
Wrong. The median age for suicides in China is age 42, and suicides are committed by those young as age 12. And only 23% of sucicides were unemployed or retired:

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5322a6....


RE: Rotten Apples
By XSpeedracerX on 5/25/2010 2:16:11 PM , Rating: 2
Wow I have to say, the gloss on the base coat of that red herring you typed is just stunning. How many coats of wax did you use? 30? 40?

The fact that factory working conditions in china are inductive to depression and suicide is sad enough since most of our silicon gadgets come from there, but no one else in the gadget industry tries to hold up a halo of superior morality while doing this kind of business other than apple.


RE: Rotten Apples
By whiskerwill on 5/25/2010 2:36:10 PM , Rating: 2
Bzzzt! Wrong again. See the link I posted. Most suicides in China are farm workers. People working at factories are at a lower risk.

I'm guessing you've never worked actually a day of hard agricultural labor in your life if you think sitting in an air-con Foxconn factory is anyway near as bad as a 15 hour day in the rice paddies. Why do you think there are 20 applicants for every Foxconn job?


RE: Rotten Apples
By Icon0clast on 5/25/2010 5:33:18 PM , Rating: 2
Only 20?


RE: Rotten Apples
By XSpeedracerX on 5/25/2010 7:13:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Bzzzt! Wrong again. See the link I posted. Most suicides in China are farm workers. People working at factories are at a lower risk. I'm guessing you've never worked actually a day of hard agricultural labor in your life if you think sitting in an air-con Foxconn factory is anyway near as bad as a 15 hour day in the rice paddies. Why do you think there are 20 applicants for every Foxconn job?


And that proves apple isn't being contradictory when it says it has the moral high ground over android, while making its phones in legalized labor camps at the same time because....


RE: Rotten Apples
By StevoLincolnite on 5/25/2010 1:43:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Yeah I know, apple's not the only smartphone manufacturer taking advantage of the third world, but I don't hear any of the others crowing on about their superior morality either.


I'm not sure why other factories aren't getting reports on this either, I'm sure it would more than likely be something common in a place such as China.

However, the Article does have the world "Apple" in it, so I guess that is why it is being reported.

***

I like my products cheap and of high-quality as possible, but Apple products are expensive to begin with and I am positive they have margins on there products that would make any company drool.

The least they could do is cannibalize SOME of those margins and save some lives.


RE: Rotten Apples
By cmdrdredd on 5/25/2010 10:27:36 PM , Rating: 2
well, ask the same thing about the associate secretary of state apologizing to china for AZ's immigration law. How can they do that? It's simple, china holds all the cards and we let it happen.


RE: Rotten Apples
By mostyle on 5/26/2010 6:50:35 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
android being a porn phone


Whoa! I was trying to wait until a slide out qwerty with a good feature set came to market.. You just motivated me to buy one now! lol!

-Tony


New Feature
By Lifted on 5/25/10, Rating: 0
RE: New Feature
By JasonMick (blog) on 5/25/2010 2:41:08 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Please add the name of the author to everywhere your articles are listed, such as the homepage and on Anandtech. Reading Jason's articles is becoming painful.


Do you have any specific complaints or issues with this article, or are you just generally whining and seeking attention?


RE: New Feature
By Lifted on 5/25/2010 7:15:05 PM , Rating: 1
I just don't think you're a good writer, and almost all of your articles have a childish slant to them.

Example of writing

quote:
Last year, Foxconn's plant workers had a suicide rate far below the average for rural China, which has one of the world's highest suicide rates. Last year, the company only had three suicides -- and one of those three was a suspected murder (of an employee who lost an iPhone prototype) that was eventually deemed "conclusively" to be a suicide.


I won't bother posting about the slant in the article since that, unlikely your writing, must be as obvious to you as it is to everyone else.

Other than the slant, many of your articles read like fanboy hate posts from some childish forum. I don't know what Apple ever did to you, but making a mountain of a mole hill comes to mind when reading these Apple articles of yours.


RE: New Feature
By JasonMick (blog) on 5/25/2010 10:04:51 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Example of writing


I'm still not quite sure about your specific complaints. You have a problem with me using the same phrase twice? "Last year" is a pretty way to describe... "last year". I mean I think you're grasping at straws.

As to my supposed "slant" I always try to provide fair and balanced coverage. That's made be called an Apple lover before, and now apparently it makes me an Apple hater.

If you can't handle negative coverage of Apple, perhaps you should move up to a magical mountain free of internet and other such connections to blasphemous materials. I would suggest the same thing to anyone who can't handle a bit of negative press about their favorite company.

I've written critical coverage of Google, Microsoft, Apple, virtually everyone in the past. I've also written positive coverage of EVERY one of these companies. Honestly, I think it's you who needs to mature a bit or barring that, at least avoid articles that you know are going to get you all worked up.

quote:
I won't bother posting about the slant in the article since that, unlikely your writing, must be as obvious to you as it is to everyone else.


Ultimately I care a LOT about what readers think, which is the only reason I responded to your comment (which seemed a bit trollish) in the first place. I can take criticism. But if you're asking me to never write negative coverage of Apple because doing so somehow makes me "childish" in your eyes, I'm sorry sir, I respectfully decline.

Please feel free to reply with any intelligent thoughts or legitimate concerns.


RE: New Feature
By Anoxanmore on 5/26/2010 10:16:47 AM , Rating: 1
I love you Jason, but you hate apple... wait no you love apple but hate google... wait no you love google but hate microsoft. Help?!

Oh I'm so confused.

Foxy face: =^-^=


RE: New Feature
By AssBall on 5/25/2010 5:07:25 PM , Rating: 3
Please add your name to every post you make about articles that you knew would bother you and yet read and commented on them anyway.

Dork.


This is really getting stupid
By grenableu on 5/25/2010 1:29:28 PM , Rating: 2
A Foxconn factory employs more people than a small town. You would expect several a year to die. This story is just yellow journalism pandering to the weak minded who don't understand statistics.




RE: This is really getting stupid
By DEVGRU on 5/25/2010 2:20:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
This story is just yellow journalism pandering to the weak minded who don't understand statistics.


"There are lies, damned lies, and statistics." - Mark Twain

:P


RE: This is really getting stupid
By The0ne on 5/25/2010 3:19:59 PM , Rating: 2
Absolutely revolutionary quote imo.

If I had a nickle for the number of times I've been asked to present my reports/numbers in a "positive" way I be rich now :D


Jobs needs the monks instead
By gimmeagdlaugh on 5/25/2010 12:30:27 PM , Rating: 2
to pray that there will be no more before wwdc next month, otherwise will be a PR disaster for the almighty iBloodPhone.




RE: Jobs needs the monks instead
By vapore0n on 5/25/2010 1:12:59 PM , Rating: 2
I dont know. Most people would be happy to get a new fancy phone for cheap. I myself am looking forward to the new IJesus.


Oh man what a rough day
By btc909 on 5/25/2010 12:31:30 PM , Rating: 3
Working on the assembly line, work, work, work, woah hey let me get some fresh air (like this is even allowed) oh I feel kinda woozie, oh, OH, i'm falling, still falling, SPLAT.

What a bunch of BS.




Simple...
By wiz220 on 5/25/2010 3:26:52 PM , Rating: 3
The solution here sounds simple...CHAIRS!!! Why can't these people just be provided stools to sit at while they're working? No more exhaustion from standing for 20 hours (or whatever the claim is for overtime)= fewer suicides?




What a sweet picture, father and daughter...
By bupkus on 5/25/2010 4:52:57 PM , Rating: 1
Looking at that photo of Foxconn CEO and probably his daughter is just so sweet. I just goes to show that family values are strong in China. </sarcasm>
Who could even imagine, looking at this photo op, that other men's sons and daughters were being used as work animals for low or no OT wages to give this little darling such a nice dress, home and education.
"Baby look pretty now, mummy?"*

*Reference to Maria Bamford comedy routine contrasting societal impressions to reality.




By bupkus on 5/25/2010 6:24:58 PM , Rating: 2
Who said anything about U.S. level wages? Overtime? Why even pay them at all! Give them some rice and a work station to sleep at. How can there be exploitation in China? They're so poor even exploitation wages are good, right?
Would you want to be hired to work 10 hours a day and then be told you can't leave the building until some lot of work is completed? Additional pay? Oh, boys, we have a trouble maker.
After a 16 or greater hour day, "Hey, all of you! Be back in 4 hours!"
I used to work for the Arizona Republic in production and often we were required to work several hours overtime. There was a union or Osha law that required 8 hours away from work for every given number of hours worked nonstop. Unless you volunteered for more overtime.
I've worked some doubles (2 8 hour shifts with maybe an hour rest between and I can tell you it is grueling. Your feet ache, hands and wrists hurt due to the physical work involved.
Never again for me, pal. I don't care what they pay me.
I feel for those poor bstds. I've been there. Actually, not really. We at least had breaks and lunch. Although I think during the holiday season the machines broke down we were paid for lunch and got lunch after 5 hours into the shift.
I'm sure none of you dicks who use the expression "bleeding hearts" have ever done real labor in your whole life.


Ok...
By Ammohunt on 5/25/2010 2:21:45 PM , Rating: 2
Air conditioned Sweat Shops?




By zaidoux86 on 5/25/2010 6:05:23 PM , Rating: 2
I think European consumers can change the way Apple and others Hi-Tech compagnies kill humain being.
In order to satisfy demand for the iPhones some people live their dinity because they want to eat.
Today we are informed about what happens in Foxxon plant. Zaïdoux Msoili




Context...?
By unsprung on 5/26/2010 6:54:03 AM , Rating: 2
Ohno! Evil Foxconn and evil Apple!

To put it in context, China has a suicide rate of about 20 people per 100,000 per year.

If the factory employs 400,000 people, one could expect that about 80 employees are going to off themselves every year. If they only had 3 last year, and are on track for ~22 this year (or possibly only 11), they are still way below the average. Using our extremely limited sample size of last year and the projected total from this year, their average would be about 13 per year which is less than one-sixth of what would be expected in China...




AMAZING
By Funky Santa Clause on 5/25/2010 2:48:05 PM , Rating: 1
"Foxconn will now be playing Buddhist music"

WOW... why not beat a drum like in slave boats..?

Maybe Steve should say some fancy adjectives to workers and show his 110/70 blood pressure, after all he earns dollar a year, way less than a child labor..!




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