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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 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.


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