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Print 44 comment(s) - last by Dylock.. on Nov 8 at 2:40 PM


Another suicide has hit Foxconn's Shenzhen plant. According to a recent report one in six employees at the plant were physically abused by the company.  (Source: Telegraph UK)
Workers are reportedly toiling under sweat-shop conditions, abuse to produce popular electronics

A recent expose by a state-run news agency in China revealed that approximately one in six workers at electronics manufacturing giant Foxconn had been physically abused by their employer.  Foxconn, a subsidiary of Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, responded quickly, saying the employees were lying and that its working atmosphere was "positive".

How "positive" that atmosphere really is has been brought into question yet again as yet another young employee has died in what appears to be a suicide.  The 23-year-old male was found dead outside a dormitory early on Friday.

Previously this year there had been 13 confirmed suicides at Foxconn's Chinese factories.  Despite China's high suicide rate, the suicides are unusual.  Most suicides in China occur among older rural residents -- heavily older rural females.  The Foxconn deaths though have been largely young males, living in an urban setting -- a demographic that has a much lower average suicide rate.

Employees interviewed by multiple Chinese news organizations report abuse and hellish working conditions.  The government is growing increasingly frustrated with Foxconn as they feel the company is casting the nation in a negative light and that the suicides may be caused by the poor conditions at the plants.

Other employees have died under questionable circumstances and may have committed suicide as well.  At least one employee is thought to have been worked to death.

Foxconn commands a lot of power in the electronics industry, though.  It is the primary manufacturer for Apple, Inc. making the company's popular iPhones, iPods, iPads, and Mac computers.  The company also makes hardware for Dell, HP, Microsoft, Nintendo, and more.  If you walk into a Best Buy store's electronics section it is a fair bet that the majority of products were at least partially assembled by Foxconn.

Despite the reportedly sweat-shop working conditions many young people have journey to Foxconn's massive factory towns that house hundreds of thousands of workers, lured by the promise of steady income and higher wages.  When they get there, though, many become homesick and bemoan the lack of promised raises.

Foxconn promised to give its employees a big raise to curb suicides and possibly move employees to midwest China, closer to its workers' homes.  According to investigative reports it has done neither.



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Boycott Apple
By rika13 on 11/5/2010 10:31:28 AM , Rating: 4
Simple as that, boycott iCrap, not for a day, but a massive unrelenting boycott of Apple until they switch to an American supplier. Losing a big customer will definitely make Foxconn think. We also need political pressure. As much as the damn politicians talk about shipping jobs overseas, maybe they could organize the boycott of iCrap?




RE: Boycott Apple
By phatboye on 11/5/2010 10:33:48 AM , Rating: 4
if you are going to boycott Apple, then you also need to boycott ever other company that continues to do business with Foxconn.


RE: Boycott Apple
By xpax on 11/5/2010 10:44:57 AM , Rating: 2
Indeed. That's easy though. I'd never buy an HP/Dell machine, I already have a 360, and the Wii sucks.

The problem is that people are too brainwashed when it comes to Apple products. They've just got to have that junk, and the news of a few dead Chinese workers isn't going to deprogram them.


RE: Boycott Apple
By theslug on 11/5/10, Rating: 0
RE: Boycott Apple
By B3an on 11/5/10, Rating: -1
RE: Boycott Apple
By Wolfpup on 11/6/10, Rating: -1
RE: Boycott Apple
By xti on 11/5/2010 11:28:46 AM , Rating: 2
The jobs that make things happen around you are using hp/dells to run their business.

Did you stop eating taco bell when their tomato supplier wouldn't give their pickers a few extra cents? do you boycott coke and their bajillion products for similar issues?

No one is brainwashed, saying you never do something isn't going to "deprogram" anything either.


RE: Boycott Apple
By kingius on 11/5/2010 12:28:04 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps we should also do the things you've mentioned and show the corporations where the real power has always lain.. with the people.


RE: Boycott Apple
By The Raven on 11/5/2010 12:28:52 PM , Rating: 2
The only way to fix this detachment problem is to get rid of the minimum wage. It is easy for us to employ people living on wages of that standard if those workers aren't in our country.
But do it in our country and it is criminal (like allowing legal immigrants from Mexico to work at rates they would be willing to).

Whatever makes all you people feel good. That is what the US has become. It doesn't matter if it makes sense or if it even makes a difference in the environment. Just so long as it feels good to vote for it or buy it.

Put the free market to work and it will return the favor.


RE: Boycott Apple
By kingius on 11/5/2010 12:35:02 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah and an invisible hand will come along and save us all. Tell us another fairy tale, why not.


RE: Boycott Apple
By The Raven on 11/5/2010 3:31:53 PM , Rating: 1
You got a better story? One that makes sense? Or is it just a feel good everyone lives happily ever after tale based in some fantasy land?

Mine's based on a true story.


RE: Boycott Apple
By Dylock on 11/8/2010 2:40:18 PM , Rating: 2
'The Raven' is right. We can't legislate for other countries where our products are made, but we can stop sending jobs there by doing one of the following...
A) Place an import tax on products based on the differences in wage earnings in that country (this would solve some of our trade deficit problem too)
B) Remove our minimum wage to become competitive. If things are cheaper to make here, then the jobs here can be legislated to be made fair

Option A is wiser at this time, from my understanding


RE: Boycott Apple
By Gul Westfale on 11/5/2010 1:04:34 PM , Rating: 2
it's not just apple and dell... foxconn is a subsidiary of hon hai precision, and its clients include practically everybody who sells electronics, including apple foe nokia.
and it's also a given that in order to remain competitive with hon hai, other taiwanese companies use similar labour practices.

and yes, hon hai is based in taiwan, not china. only the manufacturing is done there, but the HQ is in taiwan. so perhaps our politicians could exert some pressure on taiwan to regulate the industry a bit... but we all know that won't happen.


RE: Boycott Apple
By MozeeToby on 11/5/2010 11:25:58 AM , Rating: 5
920,000. That's the number of people that Foxconn employs. 450,000 of which work in 'Foxconn City' where the "suicide outbreak" took place. Think about that, think of a nearby city that is around that size, I'll give you some time... Now imagine that someone in that city commits suicide. Is that really news worthy? Now imagine

Let's put it this way. The average suicide rate in China is 6.6 per 100,000 people. If Foxconn employees were at the same average as the rest of China, you would expect, on average, to see 61 employee suicides per year, 30 in Foxconn City alone. Of course, during the "outbreak" there were 13 suicides in a 8 month period, well below the expected rate of suicides for a population that size. But hey, maybe China's suicide rate is unusually high, right? Actually, they're pretty average, lower than the US, the UK, lower even than Switzerland and Luxemburg, two countries with the highest per capita GDP in the world.

So, in summation. All those suicides at Foxconn so close together? They're a statistical anomaly, well within the expected variation for a population of that size.

And as for the $16000 in suicide compensation that was offered and apparently no longer is... that is a horrible, horrible thing to make available for people you think might be suicidal (again, not that Foxconn employees are especially suicidal). Personal responsibility is all that keeps many suicidal people from going through with the act, promising their surviving family members a small fortune if they go through with it is a terrible idea.


RE: Boycott Apple
By xti on 11/5/2010 11:31:12 AM , Rating: 2
imma need you to stop being logical. you will never get a job here!


RE: Boycott Apple
By Golgatha on 11/5/2010 11:47:14 AM , Rating: 2
Cloud the issue with facts why don't you?! Very good points. I'd like to see some hard numbers on the statistics of the suicides to see if the number at Foxconn are statistically significant.


RE: Boycott Apple
By FaaR on 11/5/2010 12:31:57 PM , Rating: 1
How about you just read the article properly? It already states that the suicides at Foxconn are anomalous because mostly young have been killing themselves, where in general it's the elderly that commit suicide in China.

Using the national average suicide rate to try and portray the situation as if there isn't a grave problem isn't "clouding the issue with facts", it's clouding the issue with desinformation.


RE: Boycott Apple
By Golgatha on 11/5/2010 2:01:02 PM , Rating: 3
Taken from the World Health Organization

Urban areas

15-24 = 3.0M, 4.8F per 100k

25-34 = 5.8M, 6.8F per 100k

In a population of 460k you would get 4.6x3.9 (3.9 is the average of male and female numbers) or roughly 18 suicides to be expected in a year. In the 8 month period mentioned there were 13 suicides, which is almost exactly 1 more than expected for a Chinese urban population comprised of only people aged 15-24. Obviously the older you go, the more suicides that are to be expected, and my numbers only take into account the employees who work on-site. The suicide rate seems to be in good agreement with the national rate in China.


RE: Boycott Apple
By Solandri on 11/5/2010 2:11:02 PM , Rating: 2
I'll add that the U.S. suicide rate for 20-24 year olds is 12.7 per 100,000 in 2007. So Foxconn actually has a considerably lower suicide rate for this demographic than the U.S.

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/suicid...


RE: Boycott Apple
By Golgatha on 11/5/2010 2:03:42 PM , Rating: 2
I will agree with you that the working conditions are atrocious and need to be changed. However, the suicide rate is not unnaturally high for an urban Chinese population of this size.


RE: Boycott Apple
By Murst on 11/5/2010 12:12:11 PM , Rating: 2
The issue, as mentioned in the article, is that the people who are committing suicides at foxconn do not tend to fit the stereotype of people who typically commit suicides in China.

Perhaps it is just an anomaly, but my guess is that if news didn't report about this stuff, these people would be very quickly forgotten. And if there really is a problem there, then it would never get fixed.

Not to mention that there is already a history of very questionable behavior by foxconn security(for example, the lost iphone prototype) which may have contributed to suicides.


RE: Boycott Apple
By kingius on 11/5/2010 12:31:16 PM , Rating: 1
You conveniently ignored the key fact that 1 in 6 workers have been physically abused. Now where's your statistics to downplay that horrible bit of inconvenience?


RE: Boycott Apple
By Shining Arcanine on 11/6/2010 1:14:07 PM , Rating: 2
How do you know that it is a fact?


RE: Boycott Apple
By Strunf on 11/5/2010 12:53:44 PM , Rating: 4
You can't put it the way you did cause suicides aren't random, also you don't take into account that a city let along a country is made from all kinds of people, workers, beggars, criminals, drunks, old people, young people and so on... to make it fair you would need to pick a comparable population "type", basically a company and see the suicides rates of its employees, and even so it wouldn't be that "enlightening" cause a small company could have a high suicide rate even if only 1 of its employs made the step... it's for no reason that statistics are the preferred tool of politicians, they can say whatever they want with them.

The issue here is not the number of suicides but the why they are taking place! You say Switzerland and Luxembourg but how many of those suicides take place cause of poor working conditions and little to no rights? not many I bet.


RE: Boycott Apple
By FaaR on 11/5/2010 12:23:49 PM , Rating: 4
This unrelenting, mindless Apple hate is really getting old hat by now.

I own two Dells that were almost exclusively produced by Foxconn; barring the power supplies which came from other sources (and assembly of those might have been outsourced to the company too for all I know, lol) almost everything in those boxes bears a Foxconn logo on it. This includes the metal and plastic parts of the casing, other various plastic bits and bobs like CPU cooler shroud and card slot retention mechanism, motherboard, even cables for ATA/SATA, audio, front panel connectors, everything.

If you're gonna boycott one company you're going to have to boycott them all, or you'll just become as big a sham yourself.


RE: Boycott Apple
By zmatt on 11/5/2010 4:49:03 PM , Rating: 2
already doing that, but not for these reasons. It wont make a difference anyways. Foxconn isn't the only electronics corporation in the east that does this. They all pretty much do to some degree or another. We just hear about them more. And we, as in westerners really can't do much to change it because there isn't an alternative that has a perfectly clean conscience. It is up to the workers themselves to do this. And they eventually will. Right now most of the east and especially china is where we were in 1900 as far as society goes. They haven't had a worker's revolution yet as ironic as that may seem. It a natural step in the development of a free and capitalistic society. They are just behind us, and have the crutch of doing it under a less than free government. So it will probably take longer than it did so for us. But that is the only way it can happen.


RE: Boycott Apple
By MikadoWu on 11/5/2010 7:39:49 PM , Rating: 2
I do not wish to sound cold people but this is not that bad. The US Suicide rate is around 5.5 per 100,000 people. There are 750,000 people at Foxconn. So in the US that would equate to 37.5 people. At only 15 or what 2.1 per 100,000 suicdes that puts them around 60th on the world.


"Death Is Very Likely The Single Best Invention Of Life" -- Steve Jobs














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