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Foxconn employees endure hellish working conditions to earn a tiny wage for building Apple's iPads, iPods, and iPhones.  (Source: Southern Weekly)

The conditions are so bad, some employees have taken their own lives. Foxconn has created the "stress room", a place where emloyees can be away their rage and frustration, in hopes of decreasing the suicide rate.  (Source: Southern Weekly)
Apple's parts supplier Foxconn faces more controversy

Last time a reporter tried to penetrate Apple's veil of secrecy, security guards employed by their parts supplier, Foxconn, beat up the reporters involved.  But questions had to be answered in the wake of the suicide/potential murder of a Foxconn employee which occurred after the employee lost an iPhone prototype.

Chinese newspaper Southern Weekly was determined to find out the true story, and sent a reporter in undercover, posing as a new employee.  Given the fact that Foxconn's Shenzen plant that builds Apple's iPads, iPods, and iPhones has 400,000 employees, that part wasn't too hard.

What was hard, was for the reporter to endure the plant's reportedly hellish working conditions for 28 days. 

So far in the last four and a half months seven workers from the plant have committed suicide, and at least 9 have attempted suicide.  According to reporter Liu Zhi Yi who infiltrated the plant, the likely reason why was that they felt taking their own life was the only option to escape the hellish working conditions of the plant.

According to Liu, the plant makes employees work around the clock, only pausing briefly to eat or sleep.  Most of the time the employees are standing, seldom able to sit down and rest their weary legs.  This is perfectly legal, as employees are required to sign a special overtime document that override Chinese workplace laws and essentially allows the employer to demand whatever hours they want from you, without additional compensation.

Foxconn pays the workers far too little for them to hope to buy one of the Apple products they assemble.  It pays them only 900 Chinese Yuan a month —about $130 USD.  Still the workers have dreams.  They joke that their carts that they haul Apple materials on are "BMWs", dreaming of real BMWs.  They buy lottery tickets and bet on horse races in hopes of miraculously being handed an escape from their purgatory.

But for most, they will live out their lives slaving away to build Apple's products, constantly in danger, while earning only a pittance.  So, according to the newspaper there's little surprise some employees fall into deep despair.

Foxconn at the request of Apple and Chinese state officials has made some steps to decrease the suicide rates.  It's hired counselors and given workers dummies to beat on to vent their rage.  And it's even been so kind as to hire Buddhist monks to allow the souls of those who committed to suicide to escape purgatory.


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Suicide Rate
By lightfoot on 5/19/2010 3:41:39 PM , Rating: -1
The suicide rate in China is 13.9 per 100,000 people. One would expect from these statistics that Foxconn would have 56 suicides per year if they were merely average in China. With a suicide rate of 16 per year (including the 9 attempts) that puts the rate at only 4 per 100,000 employees. That rate is about a third of what the suicide rate is in the United States.

If anything the suicide rate indicates that Foxconn is a very good employer, especially for China.




RE: Suicide Rate
By dark matter on 5/19/2010 3:45:20 PM , Rating: 3
Yup, I bet there are more suicides in the American porn industry than there are at Foxconn!


RE: Suicide Rate
By RealityCheckDude on 5/19/10, Rating: -1
RE: Suicide Rate
By amanojaku on 5/19/2010 4:42:40 PM , Rating: 5
It was a joke, dammit. Because both porn stars and Foxconn employees get f*cked for a living.


RE: Suicide Rate
By corduroygt on 5/19/2010 7:05:36 PM , Rating: 3
But porn stars get paid better


RE: Suicide Rate
By FaceMaster on 5/19/2010 4:49:59 PM , Rating: 2
You don't 'get' sarcasm, do you?


RE: Suicide Rate
By B3an on 5/19/2010 4:53:27 PM , Rating: 2
You're not very bright.


RE: Suicide Rate
By solarrocker on 5/20/2010 8:46:06 AM , Rating: 2
Look up sarcasme someday


RE: Suicide Rate
By Motoman on 5/19/2010 3:46:53 PM , Rating: 5
Well, since they don't give anyone any breaks, it's clear that Foxconn just doesn't give their employees any time to commit suicide.

Besides, it's against company policy. If you kill yourself, you're in big trouble. Think of the paperwork!


RE: Suicide Rate
By SunAngel on 5/19/2010 4:03:22 PM , Rating: 2
This is my first time asking the mods to bump this to a six. Please do it, this comment earned it.


RE: Suicide Rate
By RealTheXev on 5/19/2010 6:49:56 PM , Rating: 2
I vote for a 6 as well.


RE: Suicide Rate
By theArchMichael on 5/19/2010 4:33:32 PM , Rating: 2
Permission to die Sarge!


RE: Suicide Rate
By mostyle on 5/21/2010 1:37:11 AM , Rating: 2
Bathroom break boss?

You don't need to ask for permission, just go!


RE: Suicide Rate
By xmichaelx on 5/19/2010 4:07:22 PM , Rating: 3
The logical fallacy you're committing has already been pointed out in numerous other articles. (But to catch you up, suicide in China (and nearly everywhere else) is most common among the unemployed, teens, and elderly. So no, one would not expect 56 suicides per year at Foxconn.)


RE: Suicide Rate
By lightfoot on 5/19/2010 6:12:46 PM , Rating: 1
What exactly would one expect from an average company in China?

Without that statistic, your speculation is even less valuable than mine.


RE: Suicide Rate
By wired009 on 5/20/2010 2:21:20 AM , Rating: 2
That's not true. Mike made a good point by pointing out problems with your assumptions. Basically, you've jumped to conclusions by ignoring pertinent details.


RE: Suicide Rate
By lightfoot on 5/20/2010 12:03:23 PM , Rating: 3
Nice way to dodge the question. Let me repeat it just in case you missed it:

What exactly would one expect from an average company in China?

Provide verifiable facts, like I did, not opinion like Mike did. Without a "normal suicide rate" it is impossible to judge if this factory is any better or worse than its competition. Mental illness and depression can occur within any demographic, regardless of age and employment status. Without excluding the background noise from the data set it is impossible to draw an informed conclusion from this very limited data set.


RE: Suicide Rate
By xmichaelx on 5/24/2010 3:35:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Mental illness and depression can occur within any demographic, regardless of age and employment status.

Precisely, but your number doesn't take that into consideration. The only way the 46 number makes sense is if suicide rates were identical across all of society -- a ridiculous but physically possible conclusion. BUT it also would mean that suicides were confined to working age people, something far too ridiculous to even consider.


RE: Suicide Rate
By omnicronx on 5/19/2010 4:09:03 PM , Rating: 4
You can swing statistics any way you would like =P..

The average suicide rate in the US is around 0.01%, but do you think that means that every big company in the US hits that average? The answer is not even close, there are particular demographics that fit into the suicidal category, and those with good/less stressful jobs don't usually fall into that bucket.(at least not at the same rate)

Someone with a stressful job, say a Dentist is more likely to kill themselves than say.. a florist..

You can throw all the numbers around you want, but it definately seems the workers are being mistreated when you look at the laws that Foxxconn has been able to bypass. Would you like to work at a facility getting paid chump change, and having your boss tell you that you are going to have to pull a 20 hour work day?

Its also actually 8 suicides now, over a 4.5 month period not a year, so they are averaging closer to 20 suicide deaths per year.


RE: Suicide Rate
By androticus on 5/20/10, Rating: 0
RE: Suicide Rate
By wilki24 on 5/20/2010 1:55:18 AM , Rating: 2
No idea why this was rated down when it asks a legitimate question.

I'm not saying these are great working conditions, but the first thing I thought of when I read the statistics was "How does that compare to the norm?"

This article is a prime example of what is wrong with getting "news" from online sources. Writers are often out to "prove" their preconceived notion, and all too often, the consumers of such editorializing take it on face value, without doing any critical thinking of their own, because the article fits their own preconceived ideas.

Then people go and vote based on that...

Makes me sad sometimes thinking about it.

Jason Mick, you should be ashamed of yourself for perpetuating this kind of "journalism"!!!!


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