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Suicides at Foxconn factory - Click HERE for Original Thread

Manhattan
Geez...hard to look at my iPhone in the same way again.

The Taiwanese-owned company Foxconn will not be making Fortune's list of the best companies to work for any time soon. Over 300 workers recently staged a protest on the roof of one of Foxconn's factories threatening mass suicide. This may seem like a bizarre form of collective bargaining, but the fear of worker suicide is an everyday reality at Foxconn. After a spate of suicides in 2010, the company required its workers to sign a no-suicide pledge. Since many of the workers jumped to their deaths, the company also installed anti-suicide netting on its buildings.

Foxconn has been accused of running "labor camps" with military-style drills.

The company's cynical response to these suicides is an indicator of the types of management practices going on in China and the kind of cold calculation that is often involved in handling workers. After being initially slow to respond to concern about the suicides, Foxconn's CEO Terry Gou (pronounced "Gwo") gave a press conference that seemed like a scene from a dystopian science fiction movie. Gou coldly rationalized the suicides as a function of the growth in China's GDP. Give this guy the Montgomery Burns award!

Foxconn CEO Terry Gou

Gou's reaction is certainly in stark contrast to that of image-conscious American companies like Apple and Microsoft who rely on Foxconn to produce circuit boards. While Foxconn has been around for 35 years, the suicides brought the company a lot of unexpected and unwanted international attention, and also prompted a series of investigations into Foxconn's labor practices by 20 Chinese universities and two NGOs. These investigations characterized Foxconn's factories as "labor camps" that treated workers like machines in order to meet an insatiable production demand for iPods and iPads (one factory makes 137,000 iPhones each day, or 90 per minute).

The word 'machines' is fitting since Foxconn plans to replace its human workforce with "an empire of robots" in the next three years. As Big Think detailed in a previous post, the number of robot workers may be as high as one million.

The repetitive work of Foxconn's employees is being fazed out by robots.

While some have pointed out that Foxconn is hardly the worst offender in China, the company has still become the poster boy for labor abuse in the region. Controversy has also thrust the formerly reclusive Gou into the spotlight. And so for the first time in the company's history Foxconn hired a PR firm, the New York-based Burson-Marsteller.

So who is Terry Gou? Is he a slave-driving "industrial monster" or a master innovator, the architect of a manufacturing renaissance in greater China? Gou built Foxconn from scratch and has an estimated fortune of $5.7 billion, according to Forbes.

There are also a number of bizarre anecdotes about Gou, such as his claim to have received a signal through his cell phone from the Chinese god Guan Yu. "A harsh environment is a good thing" and "hungry people have especially clear minds" are among the Maoist-sounding aphorisms that appear in Gou's autobiography.

What's the Significance?

The use of industrial robot labor is spreading rapidly in China. Foxconn is an industry leader, and other manufacturers will have to follow suite. Access to the cheap labor is key to manufacturing, and a driving force behind the economic development of greater China.

In fact, there is a joke at Foxconn that the electronics manufacturing giant will make all the products in the world some day, and Wallmart will sell them all. And yet, this model of China manufacturing cheap goods for American consumers could soon be history, as Vivek Wadhwa recently wrote in The Washington Post:

These robots will perform repetitive, mechanical tasks to produce the circuit boards that go in many of the world’s most popular consumer gadgets. But even these robots and circuit boards will soon be obsolete. As my colleague Neil Jacobstein, who co-chairs the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics program at Singularity University explains, there are three exponentially accelerating technologies—artificial intelligence, robotics, and digital manufacturing—that will reshape the competitive landscape for manufacturing. Specifically, these technologies will make manufacturing more creative, less expensive, more local and more personal.




GTS4tw
I find it amusing that they are so concerned about this even though Foxconn's little city has a lower suicide rate than the country average. They had 10 out of 300,000 people kill themselves while the national average is 22.23 per 100,000 (wikipedia). Just a story someone in the media thought would sell a few ads. :closed:

Edit: Just double checked, Canada has a higher suicide rate than Foxconn.
Merritt
Not surprised. I've heard countless stories like this. Steve Jobs was OK with it.
C_Dave45
Wow....so weird because on Sunday morning, just out of the blue I wanted to find out about Foxconn. Spent an hour reading all about their factories and this suicide topic.
Media sure likes to blow things out of proportion don't they? Not even close to either the US or Canada's national suicide rate.
Interesting read though.
LollerBrader
Originally posted by Manhattan
Geez...hard to look at my iPhone in the same way again.



It's good you're "getting it", but slightly scary that you didn't. How is it possible that shit keeps getting more plentiful and cheaper without slave labor? Do you think these were the boons that the scientists had cooked up in their laboratories to make things better for everyone?

Make no mistake: The high standard of living you enjoy is bourne by a huge plundering of human capital - Not to mention exploitation of the environment.

The better you do, the worse everything else does.

CanmoreOrLess
Much ado about nothing. Move production to India and let these jumpers move onward to another mark.
kertejud2
Was the 4S really that much of a letdown?
DboyNismo
Originally posted by kertejud2
Was the 4S really that much of a letdown?



Apparently it was to die for...

Manhattan
Originally posted by LollerBrader


It's good you're "getting it", but slightly scary that you didn't. How is it possible that shit keeps getting more plentiful and cheaper without slave labor? Do you think these were the boons that the scientists had cooked up in their laboratories to make things better for everyone?

Make no mistake: The high standard of living you enjoy is bourne by a huge plundering of human capital - Not to mention exploitation of the environment.

The better you do, the worse everything else does.



This is a garbage argument. While exploitation of labour in developing countries plays a small role, most of our increases in standard of living are due to technological advancements. As bad as Chinese workers have it today it was even worse a hundred years ago in just about every part of the world. Technology improves at an exponential rate so in the near future nearly all such manual labour will be eliminated which will improve people's lives further.

arian_ma
Originally posted by Manhattan


This is a garbage argument. While exploitation of labour in developing countries plays a small role, most of our increases in standard of living are due to technological advancements. As bad as Chinese workers have it today it was even worse a hundred years ago in just about every part of the world. Technology improves at an exponential rate so in the near future nearly all such manual labour will be eliminated which will improve people's lives further.


Losing jobs will absolutely not improve people's lives.

Eleanor
I really hate how it's always "iPhone" factory or "iPad" factory.

Does anyone know the list of Foxconn's clients?

Sony, Samsung, Microsoft, Motorola, Dell, Intel, HP, IBM, ASUS, Logitech... the list goes on and on.

Everyone in electronics is exploiting cheap Chinese labour, welcome to the real world.
D'z Nutz
Originally posted by arian_ma

Losing jobs will absolutely not improve people's lives.



Are you kidding? People were devastated when he died. He's this generation's Leonardo Di Vinci!

Zephyr
Originally posted by Eleanor
I really hate how it's always "iPhone" factory or "iPad" factory.

Does anyone know the list of Foxconn's clients?

Sony, Samsung, Microsoft, Motorola, Dell, Intel, HP, IBM, ASUS, Logitech... the list goes on and on.

Everyone in electronics is exploiting cheap Chinese labour, welcome to the real world.



QTFTW.

Seriously, is this a sensationalist title or what? I hope you guys know Foxconn doesn't just make iPhones, in fact the keyboard you are typing on is probably made at Foxconn or another factory within the same region in China.

Apple's products make up less than 10% of what Foxconn produces. But "iPhone" is a hot word that brings attention and page views.

Xtrema
Using our NA labour standards, it does seems to be abuse.

But Foxconn did not collect these workers @ gunpoint. Nor are they prevented to leave their jobs behind for something better. Sure, there are management misstep that created some tension but nothing you don't see over here.

And many has left for greener pastures as there are better places to work than Foxconn. This is why the mfg cost has been driven up in China and businesses are slowly moving to Vietnam, Cambodia and India for cheaper cost.
Zephyr
Originally posted by Xtrema
Using our NA labour standards, it does seems to be abuse.

But Foxconn did not collect these workers @ gunpoint. Nor are they prevented to leave their jobs behind for something better. Sure, there are management misstep that created some tension but nothing you don't see over here.

And many has left for greener pastures as there are better places to work than Foxconn. This is why the mfg cost has been driven up in China and businesses are slowly moving to Vietnam, Cambodia and India for cheaper cost.



Once it moves to Thailand, India, Brazil, etc I bet these same situations will rise in those countries. The price we pay to want cheaper goods.

LollerBrader
Originally posted by Manhattan


Technology improves at an exponential rate so in the near future nearly all such manual labour will be eliminated which will improve people's lives further.



SRSLY?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Holy fuck dude this is your brain on star trek.

Maybelater
Originally posted by Manhattan
Technology improves at an exponential rate so in the near future nearly all such manual labour will be eliminated which will improve people's lives further.



The elimination of manual labour by replacement of machinery/computerization won't improve lives over the long-term. With the destruction of unions and the manufacturing sector we are already starting to see the problems of a society where you have no choice in life but to be a few years educated to even get a moderate paying job at best.

broken_legs
Originally posted by GTS4tw
I find it amusing that they are so concerned about this even though Foxconn's little city has a lower suicide rate than the country average. They had 10 out of 300,000 people kill themselves while the national average is 22.23 per 100,000 (wikipedia). Just a story someone in the media thought would sell a few ads. :closed:

Edit: Just double checked, Canada has a higher suicide rate than Foxconn.



canada and other groyps of people have within them smaller groups of poor, depressed, type people that commit suicide. you cant compare a company with an entire country which includes unemployed, drug addicts, psychotics, criminals etc. People with a steady job are a specific group.

lets make your comparisson slightly more fair and compare the suicide rate of foxconn employees to employees at another company, like say.... Apple.

Sugarphreak
Originally posted by broken_legs
lets make your comparisson slightly more fair and compare the suicide rate of foxconn employees to employees at another company, like say.... Apple.



I don't think you can compare one company to another in a totally different country. You have a totally different environment inside and outside. Wouldn't that be like comparing an oranges to apple?

Maybe other companies in the same country, although where could you even find that statistic?

LollerBrader
Originally posted by GTS4tw

Edit: Just double checked, Canada has a higher suicide rate than Foxconn.



Quality of life is a factor, as well. Just because people aren't offing themselves, doesn't mean they're ok.

Make no mistake - These people are overworked and undercompensated.

I suspect there are cultural/family issues related to duty and obligations that affect the suicide rate.

Maybelater
I'm really at conflict with all this, people talk about labour shifting to other parts of the world already because Chinese workers are finally getting wise. Chew them up and spit them out.

So what happens to China? In the cases of Japan and Korea the long-term benefits for those nations were great but on the backs of their relatives. But, the world has changed significantly since Japan and Korea. Does that mean the new happenings of foreign investment won't even result in real prosperity of nations experiencing it?

If that is the case, then I have almost no reason to feel good about these kind of practices.

Slaves lowered the labour cost to produce agricultural goods to nearly nothing in the USA, doesn't mean its was a good thing.
n1zm0
Originally posted by Eleanor
I really hate how it's always "iPhone" factory or "iPad" factory.

Does anyone know the list of Foxconn's clients?

Sony, Samsung, Microsoft, Motorola, Dell, Intel, HP, IBM, ASUS, Logitech... the list goes on and on.

Everyone in electronics is exploiting cheap Chinese labour, welcome to the real world.



:werd: 2/3rds don't follow work hour abiding regulations either according to this audit:


http://images.apple.com/supplierres...ress_Report.pdf

According to Apple's audit, at 93 facilities more than 50 percent of people worked more than its limit of 60 hours per week. At 90 facilities it found people worked more than 6 consecutive days at least once per month, and 37 facilities failed to ensure that workers took at least 1 day off in out of every 7. In response Apple began weekly tracking of working hours at facilities where excessive work hours were commonplace.



http://gizmodo.com/5875882/nearly-t...er-hours-limits

Xtrema
Originally posted by Zephyr


Once it moves to Thailand, India, Brazil, etc I bet these same situations will rise in those countries. The price we pay to want cheaper goods.



We will never run out of people to exploit.

Originally posted by Maybelater
I'm really at conflict with all this, people talk about labour shifting to other parts of the world already because Chinese workers are finally getting wise. Chew them up and spit them out.

So what happens to China? In the cases of Japan and Korea the long-term benefits for those nations were great but on the backs of their relatives. But, the world has changed significantly since Japan and Korea. Does that mean the new happenings of foreign investment won't even result in real prosperity of nations experiencing it?

If that is the case, then I have almost no reason to feel good about these kind of practices.

Slaves lowered the labour cost to produce agricultural goods to nearly nothing in the USA, doesn't mean its was a good thing.



Let me put this in terms that's closer to home.

How do we treat our interns? Do you pay them a lot? Do they do a lot of stuff that we don't want to do? What motivate interns?

The principle is for intern do grunt work in hope that to get experience to gain economic independence and rank up. We exploited Japan to the point they became developed economic power house, then Korea which is now slowly becoming a tech leader, now it's China's turn. It's China's opportunity to see if they can get out enough experience to promote themselves out of doing grunt works like Korea/Japan did.

LollerBrader
Originally posted by Maybelater

So what happens to China?



A great question. I recommend the book "The price of a bargain", as it may help answer this for you.

Simply an excellent book, and highly recommended.

Kg810
Originally posted by Xtrema

We will never run out of people to exploit.



QFT

It's a bittersweet reality.

DboyNismo
Originally posted by Xtrema


We will never run out of people to exploit.



Let me put this in terms that's closer to home.

How do we treat our interns? Do you pay them a lot? Do they do a lot of stuff that we don't want to do? What motivate interns?

The principle is for intern do grunt work in hope that to get experience to gain economic independence and rank up. We exploited Japan to the point they became developed economic power house, then Korea which is now slowly becoming a tech leader, now it's China's turn. It's China's opportunity to see if they can get out enough experience to promote themselves out of doing grunt works like Korea/Japan did.



Thats a great way to look at it.

ClearBluewater
Originally posted by DboyNismo


Apparently it was to die for...



How did everyone miss this!!?!?!

BOOOOM!

LollerBrader
Originally posted by ClearBluewater


How did everyone miss this!!?!?!

BOOOOM!




HAHAHA STUPID CHINESE SLAVES DYING

SO FUNNY

TELL THE WHOLE BUNCH

Feruk
LollerBrader: It seems fitting that on a topic about Apple (sorta), I noticed your icon is that of the human centipad. :rofl:



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