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According to Chinese reports, a man recently was worked to death at an Apple plant. Foxconn, the manufacturer, is reportedly denying the man's family full benefits, as the death was not a suicide.  (Source: Ming Pao)
Foxconn refuses to pay family of employee who died of exhaustion after 34-hour shift as it wasn't suicide

The Shenzhen factory-city in southern China that primarily serves as a manufacturing site for Apple's iPads, iPhones, and iPods has claimed another life, only this time it wasn't a suicide. The man was a 28-year old plant engineer who reportedly died of exhaustion after being forced to work 34 hours nonstop.

Foxconn reportedly has been making employees work increasingly long hours to satisfy the growing demand for the iPad, including unpaid overtime.  It also has reportedly been bullying employees at the Shenzhen Apple plant and elsewhere.

The company is currently refusing to pay the family of the man, Yan Li, full benefits typically given for workers that commit suicide.  Instead, despite having apparently worked him to death, the company plans to only give the family a smaller "humanitarian terms" payout.

The man died shortly after suffering from shortness of breath.  After the 34 hour workday, he had rested for 10 hours, then had returned to work and had worked for 12 hours before becoming ill and dying.

Foxconn manufactures motherboards and other electronics for a variety of companies including Dell, HP, Microsoft, Nintendo, Nokia, and Sony.  However the Shenzhen factory serves primarily as a manufacturing facility for Apple products big and small.  It has all been the site of all the deaths thus far this year.

Since the start of the year, 11 Shenzhen workers have committed suicide, while several more have made unsuccessful attempts.  The string of suicides have brought to light the poor working conditions that the employees toil under daily.

Hon Hai Precision Industry owns the Foxconn unit that operates the plant.  The company has tried many approaches to stop the suicides -- Buddhist monks, "anger rooms", even contracts asking employees to promise not to kill themselves.  However, the death toll has continued to rise.

Foxconn's latest bid to halt the death toll is to give employees a long promised raise.  The company just instituted a 30 percent pay bump at the Shenzhen facility, bringing workers' average starting wage from $132 USD a month to $172 USD per month, enough to buy one of the iPad Nanos they manufacture (after a month's work).

The raise is rumored to be subsidized by Apple.  Apple reportedly is taking a 0.7 percent loss on the iPad's cost to pay for the raise -- or rough $3.50 per iPad sold.  This means that Apple's profit per unit sold will like drop from around $200 to around $196 per Wi-Fi iPad sold.

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Apple at fault?
By psenechal on 6/2/2010 1:48:48 PM , Rating: 2
What a sad story...

While the vast majority of products produced at that plant are for Apple, I'm not sure you can actually put any blame on them for the result of Chinese management. I think you have to put the blame on Foxconn for overworking their employees. I'm sure Apple put pressure on Foxconn to increase manufacturing, but it was Foxconn's decision not to cut into their profits and hire additional workers to meet the demand.

Apple's willingness to slightly cut into their HUGE profit margin on the iPad is a tiny bit commendable, but they should seriously consider moving their manufacturing to a different contractor. I don't know how you could in good conscious support the conditions under which Foxconn makes their employees work.

RE: Apple at fault?
By poly15 on 6/2/2010 2:05:26 PM , Rating: 2
In no way am I supporting foxconn here, i actually think the leaders of foxconn should be burned at the stake, but if Apple switches off of foxconn what happens to the 420,000 employees? Then instead of 420,000 mistreated employees you now have 420,000 unemployed in china. Like I said I am not supporting foxconn I just think the best idea in this situation is reform, not abandonment.

RE: Apple at fault?
By psenechal on 6/2/2010 2:21:39 PM , Rating: 2
You have a very good point...I'm not holding my breath on the Chinese government stepping in to help reform labor conditions in places like this though. What to do...what to do?

RE: Apple at fault?
By poly15 on 6/2/2010 2:24:02 PM , Rating: 2
If apple THREATENS to change manufacturers unless there is reform maybe they can get the overtime they so deserve. The other option is a union which might be what has to happen...

RE: Apple at fault?
By JediJeb on 6/2/2010 5:09:19 PM , Rating: 2
Union in a Chinese plant? I don't see that happening.

RE: Apple at fault?
By Krotchrot on 6/2/2010 5:24:37 PM , Rating: 2
UNions are actually supported in China -

RE: Apple at fault?
By mcnabney on 6/2/2010 2:25:22 PM , Rating: 2
Just because Apple subcontracts out the job of assembling their products does not reduce their culpability. These people are dying based upon how the factory is run by a SELECTED , VETTED , and APPROVED vendor (Foxconn). The Foxconn management is just the tool that Apple has used to pad their profit margins. In a similar situation, BP contracted the drilling of their well to Transocean. Is BP responsible for THAT disaster? You bet!

RE: Apple at fault?
By psenechal on 6/2/2010 3:25:06 PM , Rating: 3
Not sure I agree with you on the BP comparison. If a Transocean employee died on the job as a result of the way Transocean managed their working conditions, then I think you would still blame Transocean, not BP. Now when you're talking about the resulting product, that's a different story. If all of a sudden iPads started blowing up and killing people, then you can blame Apple for a faulty product...not FoxConn because they assembled it to Apple's specs.

RE: Apple at fault?
By DarthKaos on 6/3/2010 9:52:09 AM , Rating: 2
I would have to disagree about it being Apple's fault in any way, shape, or form. Apple is in a business to sell it's products. It needs more products to meet demand. Of course it is going to talk to it's manufacturing partner. Foxconn in turn could have hired more workers (I am pretty sure lots of people want to work), opened a new facility and hired employees for there, etc... I would be willing to bet that if Foxconn told Apple it would need to work employees to death to meet demand that Apple would have asked if there was something else they could do instead.

RE: Apple at fault?
By gaiamantic on 6/3/2010 3:41:46 PM , Rating: 1
no one is forcing him to work like that. he can quit any time he wants to. apple has nothing to do with the policies. apple pays for a product to be delivered. china has the control over the labor laws. i taught english in shenzhen for 2 years. most of these people would be thieves and whores if it was for export companies. also, working for 34 hours as an engineer kills you? natural selection at its finest.

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