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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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RE: Heartless Bastards
By JasonMick on 6/2/2010 2:14:51 PM , Rating: 1
Has it been officially determined he died as a result of working these long shifts?
Could he have died from natural causes/disease?

I certainly don't want to make excuses for Foxconn, but we shouldn't just automatically assume that someone who died working there died because of being worked to death.

According to all the translate Chinese reports I read he died of exhaustion. The guy did work a 34 hour shift and then a 12 hour shift, with only a brief break for sleep. Even if the long shift wasn't the exclusive cause of death, it sounds like it played a major role in it.

RE: Heartless Bastards
By MrTeal on 6/2/2010 2:47:13 PM , Rating: 1
Do you have a link to a real translation? Google and Babelfish mangle it so bad that it's almost unreadable.

Also, unless there's some underlying condition, I would think it should take more than one 34 hour shift to kill the guy. He was fairly young. I've worked longer shifts with less rest between, and while it does suck and you do get a little squirrely by the end of it, doing it once in awhile shouldn't kill a healthy individual. If I were Apple I would be looking deeper into the nutrition and other living conditions at the factories, rather than just getting a promise from Foxconn to keep shifts under 24 hours.

RE: Heartless Bastards
By tedrodai on 6/2/10, Rating: 0
RE: Heartless Bastards
By sebmel on 6/2/2010 6:11:59 PM , Rating: 3
This is a sad but also complex issue. Foxconn is not acting entirely ruthlessly and I have yet to see it covered fully. This is an excerpt from an article which points out the compensation Foxconn is paying and that it might just be a motivation in some cases. Though that seems crazy, someone contemplating suicide isn't acting rationally:

"... Foxconn finds itself in the position of continuing to pay 110,000 yuan ($16,000) in compensation to every person who jumps. For a depressed Foxconn employee, who still feels an obligation to repay his family for the cost of his or her upbringing and who would like to give his parents a lump sum that could transform their lives, this is a very tempting sum.

For a worker on the basic rate of 900 yuan a month, the compensation amounts to the equivalent of over ten years of gross salary. For a worker who is doing overtime and earning 1500 yuan a month, the compensation is still worth six years of salary."

RE: Heartless Bastards
By Azure Sky on 6/3/2010 11:20:11 AM , Rating: 2
What I would like to know is about the shifts b4 these, if he had been being worked hard b4 hand that could easily account for the death, Poor food+poor rest cycle+lots of work=bad health or, very likely in this case death.

I have seen people endup in the hosp here in the states from working to many long shifts with to little down time between, very possible that they had been working this guy 12-16hr shifts with as little as a few hours for sleep between for days/weeks b4 this and then the 34hr shift just was to much.......

RE: Heartless Bastards
By chrnochime on 6/2/2010 3:15:15 PM , Rating: 5
No need for "better" translation using other online tools. I can read Chinese just fine since it *is* my first language and will give you the summary.

The article linked to "Mingbao"(which I believe is actually a Hong King publication) does indeed indicate, according to the family of the deceased that he died of exhaustion. The article does NOT indicate the official cause of death.
The Chinese police has ruled out suicide/homicide, thus making this a non-criminal investigation, and as such any request for examination by the coroner will actually cost the family ~8000 RMB, which is roughly 1000 USD.

RE: Heartless Bastards
By drycrust3 on 6/2/2010 3:42:39 PM , Rating: 2

It would be interesting to find out what the Chinese police define as homicide, because if the management coerced him to stay at work and refused to let him go home to sleep, then they definitely killed him, and they can't say it was an accident because every manager should know sleep deprivation will kill a person.

RE: Heartless Bastards
By Moishe on 6/2/2010 4:15:32 PM , Rating: 2
34 hours of sleep deprivation including work won't harm anyone who is healthy.

Clearly we don't know all of the info.

RE: Heartless Bastards
By Reclaimer77 on 6/2/2010 5:32:59 PM , Rating: 4
34 hours of sleep deprivation including work won't harm anyone who is healthy.

You're an idiot. 34 hours, once or twice a year, won't harm anyone usually sure. However I doubt this was the case. Unless you actually believe this was a one time situation, he was almost certainly suffering from CHRONIC sleep deprivation which is much more serious. Most prevalent being a acutely weakened immune system, high blood pressure, heart attacks or heart failure, and a MUCH higher chance of having a stroke. Not to mention very high stress levels which further compound all these symptoms.

Clearly we don't know all of the info.

Well.. it's clear YOU don't.

RE: Heartless Bastards
By Cheesew1z69 on 6/2/2010 8:20:30 PM , Rating: 3
Neither do you.....

RE: Heartless Bastards
By Moishe on 6/3/2010 9:19:49 AM , Rating: 2
I find it hard to believe that someone is suing for something like this, but that they would fail to mention details like "the guy stayed up working 34 hours straight *multiple* times over the course of the last few months."

Not to mention... he just has 10 hours of rest before starting another shift. Like I said, clearly there is more to this than just 34 hours of work. We don't know everything.

If you wish to start throwing around the term "idiot" as usual, you're welcome to, but you don't *know* that the guy worked a bunch of 34 hours shifts, and you don't know what killed him. If he had chronic sleep deprivation, I think that it would be mentioned because it has a lot of bearing on the situation.

Trying to discover cause in a vacuum simply doesn't work very well.

RE: Heartless Bastards
By Gul Westfale on 6/2/2010 8:59:42 PM , Rating: 1
34 hours of sleep deprivation including work won't harm anyone

well, not according to george W. and the friendly staff at guantanamo hotel.

RE: Heartless Bastards
By Moishe on 6/3/2010 9:12:57 AM , Rating: 2
No doubt the terrorists at Guantanamo get better care than the people at this factory.

RE: Heartless Bastards
By BZDTemp on 6/3/2010 4:10:16 AM , Rating: 1
Unless the bullying was done by someone holding a gun to his head I'd say the real reason for his death is stupidity!

Sure no employer should be allowed to demand such work from their workers and they are to blame in his death. However the guy should have said stop - no job is worth dying for.

On a somewhat related note. What sort of quality work is being performed by workers under such conditions. That really sounds to me like stupid and short term thinking by Foxconn and it's customers.

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