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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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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.


"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007














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