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Foxconn may replace workers at its plants with robots. The plants which have been dubbed as "hellish" by the Chinese media, also are cutting their sucide payouts. They already don't pay for workers who die of exhaustion.  (Source: Telegraph UK)

Foxconn is blame news orginizations' reporting of the deaths for provoking more suicides, dismissing that poor working conditions are to blame.  (Source: Southern Weekly)
Company also blames news networks for the suicides

Foxconn seemed to be turning the corner in working conditions and corporate policy.  It had raised employees' base wages and instituted additional performance based increases, as well.  It even had retracted its contract letters to employees demanding they didn't kill themselves.  Now the manufacturer -- which services Apple, Sony, Microsoft, and a host of other companies -- is turning to some controversial new changes.

First of all, at its annual shareholder meeting yesterday, Terry Gou, CEO of Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry (owners of the Chinese Foxconn unit) blamed news agencies and company payouts for the rash of suicides.  He first read a letter from one of the employees who killed himself, which stated:
...now I'm going to jump off Foxconn, really leaving now, but you don't have to be sad, because Foxconn will pay a bit of money, this is all your son can repay you now.
He also stated that 6 of the 12 suicides, which occurred in May after the story received international attention, may have triggered a "Werther Effect" -- people reading about the story and deciding to kill themselves.  As a result, Gou is handing control over "welfare management work" to the Chinese local government, which may chose to block internet coverage for the events.

He also announced that Foxconn will no longer pay the families of employees who kill themselves.  Recently a worker died, apparently from exhaustion from working long hours and Foxconn refused to pay his family, as well.  The new policy, though, ends suicide payouts that could total as much as 10 years worth of salary.

Foxconn has also started to flee China, where it currently employs over 800,000 people.  In the shareholders meeting it said that the rise in wages from ¥900 ($132) to ¥1,200 ($176), and for top performers up to ¥2,000 ($293), is compelling it to move to countries with cheaper labor or seek alternative options. 

It says that it may replace employees with robots, building a fully automated assembly line in Taiwan.  This suggestion is somewhat ironic, given recent Foxconn factory workers' complaints that they felt like "robots" when performing their duties. 

Chairman Samuel Chen says that the company may also shift employees and orders to its Vietnam plant, where labor is cheaper.  Chen says that Foxconn is working with the companies that contract it to make these moves as smooth as possible.


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RE: Just low....
By moriz on 6/10/2010 11:31:07 AM , Rating: 2
you have to realize that china's society is inherentally unfair. trust me, i was born there, and witnessed all this first hand.

many of these people, whom you've derided as being unwilling or not having the ability to find better jobs, actually do have the will and ability to do so, but are simply unable to. china is a nation that's operating in the 21 century, but is stuck having the social structure of the early 1900s. unlike here in north america, simply having the ability and will is not enough. resources are plentiful, but are shared very unequally. i bet you anything that there are people inside that factory with genius level intellect, but simply don't have the means to go to school. post secondary education is extremely expensive in china, and many people are forced to decide to work in these factories and support their family, or leave and make their family (and themselves) starve.

forcing changes from the inside is also impossible, since this system of inequality and corruption is too well entrenched. under-the-table deals and pulling favors is common practice in china. these workers unionize and trying to demand changes themselves will likely end up being ignored, or worse, end up with them being arrested, or slaughtered. the history of china is smeared in blood, and it might sound callous of me for saying this, but a few drops more won't make a difference. if any change were to happen, it will have to be initiated both from the inside and out. i'm not saying that boycotting products is the way to go, but there's got to be something that we can do.

i've always maintained the opinion that the next great scientist/leader/nobel prize winner/whatever-great-person is currently working away in the fields or factories of china. it's a real shame to have such potential being wasted. if i ever have the great fortune of acquiring a shitton of money, i'd put most of it into a scholarship aimed to find and bring those people out of poverty. it's the least i can do for the country of my birth.


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