Colossal technology company, Foxconn, the principal manufacture of Apple products, has seen an 11th person commit suicide at their southern Chinese factory in the last year.
The factory, which employs roughly 300,000 people, pushes its employees to capacity, where long hours, severe punishment for mistakes, and low pay are the norm, according to labour activists.
These are all factors, it appears, contributing to an emerging pattern of employees jumping from the company’s Shenzhen factory.
The latest death, according to Chen Hongfang, Deputy Chairman of Foxconn’s union, was 19 year old Li Hai, who had been at Foxconn for just 42 days.
The highest profile death to date was seen last July, when Sun Danyong, 25, leapt from the factory’s heights after being interrogated over a missing iPhone prototype.
Li Hai’s death’s occurred just hours after Foxconn urged its employees, in writing, to promise not to kill themselves. The suicide waiver follows emerging comments, such as those of a 22 year old female employee, who reportedly told Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, “I feel like I have an empty life and work like a machine”.
Apart from harsh labor, the workers are also exposed to the chemical n-hexane, which is used to clean Apple iPad and iPhone touch screens. Young factory worker, Bai Bing, who has spent months in an eastern Chinese hospital from n-hexane poisoning, warns consumers to look beyond the glossy screen when selecting their product.
Interestingly, Foxconn’s website prides itself on its “green manufacturing process“, as well as its commitment to “investing in its people long term”. Apparently all at the lowest “total cost solution to increase the affordability of electronic products for all mankind”. A foxy con indeed.
But who am I to get all high and mighty? Where this is but another example of capitalist shortcomings at the expense of the fellow worker? Especially as I type this on my nifty little MacBook that has never let me down thus far. Oh the irony.
As one blogger has pointed out:- Given the national suicide average, nine (at the time of writing) suicide deaths out of 300,000 workers is not bad. He even goes on to say that slagging Foxconn is simply unfair.
Before anyone starts feeling a little guilty, Foxconn’s chairman, Terry Gou, has repeatedly apologised over the deaths, telling reporters he would do everything in his power to prevent further suicides from happening.
Lately, nets have been put around the building, and 100 mental health counsellors are being trained, all while Mr Gou has had trouble sleeping at night.
Meanwhile, interest in Apple’s new iPad is “off the charts”, as 1 million have sold in 28 days in the US, compared to the 78 days it took the iPhone to reach the same number…