Four Foxconn Workers Attempt Suicide In A Month: Are Low-Cost Gadgets The Reason?

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News Posted: Fri, Apr 9 2010 4:32 AM
So, it turns out those reports last October about Foxconn making the new Apple tablet (renamed iPad) were probably true. But it also seems that some of those folks who couldn't quite keep a lid on Apple's secrets may be in very bad positions over in China. A report stemming from the country and coming just days after Apple announced that it had sold 300,000 of their tablets on the first day in America has shocked the collective tech world, and not in a positive way.

Foxconn's Longhua plant is veiled in secrecy. It's said that around 300,000 workers both live and work at the plant, which makes consumer electronics for Apple, Dell, HP, Nokia and tons of other companies that brand the goods you buy and enjoy each day. It's a strange situation; the company keeps a curtain around their methods in order to keep others in the dark, yet no one really asks questions so long as the quality of product is high and we keep getting them cheap. It's a Catch 22, of sorts.



But now, reports from the Chinese media have found that four workers have attempted suicide in the last month alone. Some say they were and are under great amounts of pressure, and when you consider the demands that are likely being placed on them to produce goods that are in high demand elsewhere in the world, you can probably start to share in the pain.


Electronics Manufacturing Assembly Line - China

Of course, no actual explanation has been given yet, and it's not likely that the truth of the matter will ever be revealed. Reporters who have tried to gain access into the Foxconn plant have been assaulted, leading us to think that something may not be quite right just inside those locked doors. We know 300,000 is a large population, but what other employer of any size have you heard of having four suicide attempts in a month?  Something doesn't smell right...
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AKwyn replied on Fri, Apr 9 2010 7:38 AM

That's sad when workers attempt suicide, they have all that product to fill yet the pressure on them... Really makes it hard, but still...

I'm wondering if the iPhone girl is feeling the same thing as well?

 

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Catch 22, Yeah but for who.
 
We all know China is still communist, and we all know what Communism does to its people!
OK,  Well maybe not the youth of today :P
 
That's the real Question. 300K workers making products that come here. That we buy, so that money can go over there, which we then have to borrow back at higher rates?
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3vi1 replied on Fri, Apr 9 2010 8:05 AM

It's less concerning once you realize that 'attempted suicide' in China is when you ask the foreman for a 15 minute break during your 11hr shift.

Maybe not.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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animatortom:

Catch 22, Yeah but for who.
 
We all know China is still communist, and we all know what Communism does to its people!
OK,  Well maybe not the youth of today :P

If I remember correctly, they are still technically communist, but my Asian friend from school who hails from China says that they are basically undercover totalitarians. Who knows. 

I bet that these iPads are really difficult to manufacture, considering their fragile yet tough design to make. The workers that are assigned to the Apple making district probably have a lot of pressure because they can't meet the demands of the consumers. Apple is probably knocking on their door needing more iPads and they are just now coming off of the production line. 

 

 

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RyuGTX replied on Fri, Apr 9 2010 3:09 PM

There was negative news years ago about the Apple iPod with claims of low wages and bad working conditions.

http://www.truthout.org/article/ipods-children

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I did not under stand that 3vi1. :D

Well they should look for manufactures that pay their workers fairly if they want them to work happy and faster :)

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RyuGTX replied on Fri, Apr 9 2010 5:03 PM

I'm sure Apple has a good amount of influence over Foxconn. I would think it would be a pretty big hit to revenues if Apple took their business else where. So in a way, I guess it is up to Apple if they want to investigate or something. Because it can hurt Apple and its image. Not sure by what magnitude though.

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News:
Other reporters who have tried to get into the Foxconn plant have ben assaulted, leading us to think that something may not be quite right or just inside the locked doors.

It's a freaking modern-day slave-labor camp. Are you enjoying your Foxconn/Apple products?

 

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Inspector replied on Fri, Apr 9 2010 10:26 PM

um... i feel bad for those workers but i got to say i am enjoying my iphone Sad. How come no one is taking some actions against this? Its like one of those Germany concentration camps back then :O. Those workers get to leave right?...

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Yes inspector, just like those camps, the workers do get to leave!

They wont take action, that is the whole point of cheap outsourced labour. It is only about getting the work done and nothing about the workers of the world:)

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Damn that's really messed up. They probably "keep a curtain around their methods" because these "methods" aren't exactly humane. Something reminiscent of a sweat shop for example.  

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eunoia replied on Sat, Apr 10 2010 12:05 PM

.

...pending.

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RyuGTX replied on Sat, Apr 10 2010 1:45 PM

eunoia:

Let's look at this another way:

WHO reports the Chinese suicide rate at 13-14.8 per year per 100,000:

http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suiciderates/en/

So Longhua with 300,000 workers should average 39-44.4 suicides/year or up to 3.7 actual suicides per month.  Only four attempts in a month seems ridiculously low.

Other sources put China's suicide rate at 287,000 per year:

http://english.people.com.cn/200211/28/eng20021128_107637.shtml

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2007-09/11/content_6095710.htm

Which works out to 23 per 100,000 which works out even higher at 5.75 per month at Longhua.  Again, actual suicides, not attempts.  Hard to believe that Longhua workers are that much happier and relaxed than the general population, especially considering the average age of workers should skew towards even higher suicide rates.

 

They may not be happier. Can't really measure happiness well based on suicide rates. They could be working to support themselves and their family (sending a portion of their earnings back to their family). This is a pretty common situation. Therefore, suicide would make the situation worse.

 

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eunoia replied on Sat, Apr 10 2010 3:34 PM

.

...pending.

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Dave_HH replied on Sun, Apr 11 2010 9:53 AM

The problem, as I see it, with just looking at the statistics approach, eunoia, is that this population lives under the community and community services of Foxconn presumably, which therefor places more responsibility on Foxconn to overlook the welfare of their community and also more closely couples the welfare of that community to Foxconn's environment.

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eunoia replied on Sun, Apr 11 2010 5:50 PM

.

...pending.

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ceetoot replied on Sun, Apr 11 2010 10:52 PM

Wow, that is truly incedible. Who woulda thunk it??

 

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Eccent replied on Sun, Apr 11 2010 11:32 PM

1) As you pointed out, Apple isn't the only company that uses Foxconn: Dell, HP, Sony, Cisco, Amazon, Motorola, and more use them. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foxconn

2) However, Apple is the only company that has done working conditions audits of Foxconn.

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Super Dave replied on Mon, Apr 12 2010 12:06 AM

Employment practices

In June 2006, allegations of Foxconn operating abusive employment practices came to light as reported by Mail that were later denied by Foxconn.[6][7] Apple launched an investigation into such claims.[8] The result was that the claims of mistreatment of employees were judged by the Apple inspection team to be largely unfounded, but the inspection team also discovered that at peak production times some of the employees were working more hours than Apple's acceptable "Code of Conduct" limit of 60 hours, and 25% of the time workers did not get at least one day off each week.[9] These same workers complained there was not enough overtime in off peak periods. The auditing team also found that workers had been punished by being made to stand at attention for long periods,[10] and that all junior employees are subjected to military-style drill.[11]

Foxconn admitted it makes workers do an extra 80 hours overtime per month while the local labor law only permits 36 hours[12] Foxconn sued Wang You and Weng Bao of China Business News, the journalists responsible for revealing these practices, for $3.77 million and filed a successful court ruling to have the journalists' assets frozen.[13] Some disagree with the demands and the court ruling.[14] Reporters Without Borders sent a letter to Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs to implore Foxconn to drop the case.[15] Later Foxconn reduced the demand to a symbolic 1 yuan (12 U.S. cents), withdrew the request to freeze the journalists' personal assets, and initiated legal proceedings to sue their employer.

^The above excerpt was ripped from Wikipedia. You can read the entire entry HERE

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eunoia replied on Mon, Apr 12 2010 12:16 PM

.

...pending.

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Surprised we didn't have this when all of the Xbox 360's in the world were RROD'ing. Almost all parts inside the 360 was made by Foxconn. I've cursed them several times having to bust it open again and try to get it working! :]

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bt003 replied on Wed, May 26 2010 2:08 PM

This is very sad, but not necessarily related to conditions. Obviously that shouldn't be ruled out, but it shouldn't be assumed either. There have been a number of similar concentrations of suicides, usually out of proportion with any obvious cause. Malcolm Gladwell documents this phenomenon in 'The Tipping Point', and there was another spate in Bridgnorth in South Wales in 2008 - see eg http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article3399813.ece.

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