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Foxconn is giving the parents of its worker who commited suicide after the company harassed him a payoff, in hopes of quieting the matter.  (Source: PSD Blog)
Company hopes that payment will lay matter to rest

Apple and its Chinese iPhone manufacturer Foxconn made headlines when an employee Danyong Sun committed suicide.  The circumstances were anything but ordinary.  Mr. Sun had been given a set of never-before-seen iPhone fourth generation prototypes to deliver for testing.  He lost one of these prototypes and was subsequently the victim of a burglary and assault, reportedly by his employer's security division.  He then committed suicide.

Following initial statements by Foxconn and Apple, new details have emerged.  Foxconn has announced that it will pay off the family of Mr. Sun in hopes of laying the matter quietly to rest.  It has agreed to pay his parents a lump sum of $52,000 and a yearly payment of $4,400 for the rest of their lives.

The government is still investigating the incident.  Apple says it will wait until that investigation finishes before it takes action.  The main subject of the investigations is Mr. Gun Qinmin a security supervisor.  Mr. Qinmin insists that he's innocent, though he admits to sending people to search Mr. Sun's office.

The average salary of a worker in one of China's cities was 5,000 yuan ($3,560 USD) in 2007

The incident continues to highlight both Apple's veil of secrecy about its products and the pressures that young engineers in China face.  Officials with both Chinese companies and government agencies have a history of taking severe tactics at times to stomp out improper behavior.  China publicly executed its former food and drug administration head in 2007 when he was found guilty of taking bribes.

Despite the potential dangers associated with manufacturing products in China, most major electronics manufacturers build their products in China due to the lower cost of skilled labor.  Product design and testing is also increasingly being sourced to China.

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RE: $52,000
By lightfoot on 7/28/2009 3:37:56 PM , Rating: 2
a 25-year-old college graduate working in product communications

My apologies, it wasn't an engineer, just a marketing kid. But probably still earned significantly above average.

RE: $52,000
By Rookierookie on 7/28/2009 4:09:46 PM , Rating: 2
That's not the point. The average cost of living, even in the rich cities, is close to one-tenth of that in the US.

I haven't paid much attention to Chinese economics lately, but I believe that even now, $1000/month is what a highly trained professional can expect to earn.

RE: $52,000
By lightfoot on 7/28/2009 5:07:19 PM , Rating: 5
Part of the reason that cost of living is one-tenth is that most professionals have their housing provided by the employer. Thus your entry-level $12,000 salary does not include such benefits nor are housing costs included in cost of living calculations. (Much like healthcare in the US - it's not counted as salary coming in, and isn't counted in cost-of-living on the way out.)

Thus the settlement of $4,000 per year + $52,000 is the equivalent to a lost income settlement to the parents, not a wrongful death settlement.

It is just enough to keep the parents quiet, not enough to act as a deterrent to prevent future abuses. In the US we allow punitive damages to compensate not only for the loss to the victim, but to punish the offender to prevent future violations. This however would require a functional civil court system, something that China does not have.

RE: $52,000
By Samus on 7/28/09, Rating: 0
RE: $52,000
By The0ne on 7/28/2009 6:11:42 PM , Rating: 2
An operator makes about 700-1000RMB per month. A superivisor makes about 1500/month. An engineer makes about 4000/month. A project manager makes about 6000-8000 per month. Its not much considering the cost of eating out is about the same in US for a decent restaurant. Last I check, Mcdonalds and KFC were almost the same price as here in the US, with portions being smaller of course. For example, their KFC drumstick is equivalent to the size of the drumstick on the chicken wing here :P I thought it was pretty funny hahaha

However, their cost of living is substantially cheaper than US. I mean really cheap. A crappy apartment can go for a few hundred RMB and a really nice one for about 2000. this 2000RMB apartment that our China project manager has is like a medium class condo...not your $2000 apartment. Problem is no one, I mean absolutely no one, takes care of the complex and in a few years the whole freaking building would be rusty, dirty and in dire need of repairs.

Still, things don't quite add up and it's pretty amazing how people still are able to survive there with the pay they get.

RE: $52,000
By zsunjian on 7/28/2009 6:23:43 PM , Rating: 2
$1000/month is what a highly trained professional can expect to earn.

Nope. That's only about 7000 yuan, which quite a few of my old friends were earning fresh out of college. And that was a few years ago. The housing in major cities in China have ballooned recently, with a decent condo in Shanghai often costing 2 million yuans and upward. Even the cost of food has increased tremendously in recent years. Their offer is meager in comparison.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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