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Apple partner Foxconn says it's not a 'sweatshop' as suicides mount

post #1 of 73
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A Chinese employee of Foxconn, the overseas manufacturer of numerous Apple products, jumped from a building to his death Tuesday, marking the 10th apparent suicide for the company in the last year.

According to the Associated Press, Li Hai, a 19-year-old worker who had been with the company for just 42 days, committed suicide on Tuesday. The death was the ninth at Foxconn's plant in the southern city of Shenzhen, a massive facility that houses more than 300,000 workers, while a tenth suicide occurred in January at a smaller plant in the norther Hebei providence. Two others at Shenzhen also attempted suicide, but survived.

Foxcon Chairman Terry Gou spoke with reporters on Monday, before the latest death, and said his company is "not running a sweatshop. We are confident we'll be able to stabilize the situation soon."

Last Friday, a 21-year-old worker at the factory jumped from a four-story building. That incident came only days after Southern Weekend issued an undercover report, revealing that employees sign "voluntary overtime affidavits" to take home more than the $132 equivalent local minimum wage that can be earned through a regular 36-hour workweek. Workers at the plant reportedly said, "without overtime, you can hardly make a living."

The most high-profile Foxconn-related suicide occurred in July of 2009, when a worker jumped from a 12-story building after one of 16 prototype iPhones he was responsible for went missing. Reports claimed that the man told friends before his death that security guards with Foxconn had aggressively questioned him regarding the missing prototype. Company officials alleged that the employee had a suspicious history.

Foxconn is believed to be the manufacturer of Apple's next-generation iPhone, expected to be unveiled at the start of the annual Worldwide Developers Conference, with a keynote from Chief Executive Steve Jobs set for June 7. The partnership with Foxconn has remained, but Apple now conducts an annual audit of its overseas partners. Last year's review found that more than half weren't paying their workers valid overtime rates.

Another Apple partner, Wintek, also recently came under fire in China when a number of employees were reportedly exposed to a poisonous chemical, n-hexane, which was used to clean the displays of some iPhones. Wintek said it treated workers for the exposure, but some have planned a lawsuit against the company. At least 62 workers have allegedly been hospitalized from exposure to n-hexane since August of 2009.

Despite its disclosures through the annual audits, first begun in 2006, Apple's partnerships with businesses in China have not gone without scrutiny. In February, U.S. Sen Dick Durbin, D-Ill., questioned the Mac maker, along with 29 other technology companies, for information on its human rights practices as they relate to Apple's presence in China.
post #2 of 73
We're not a sweat shop, BUT... We will allow our employees to work 100+ hours each week in order to earn a decent wage. BUT, it's all legal cause they sign a release to be worked into the ground. AND, we provide cute white uniforms with no pockets for a nominal fee.
post #3 of 73
This really represents a failure of the Chinese government to pass and enforce labor protection laws. If Intel employees were committing suicide over harsh conditions at a plant in the US, would it be Apple's responsibility to investigate and blow the whistle? Of course not -- it would be the responsibility of the state and federal governments to take action against Intel. Similarly, it really ought to be the Chinese government taking the lead here, not Apple. I mean, it's nice that Apple is doing it, but this is ultimately a Chinese failure.
post #4 of 73
At this point I think they really should investigate to see if it's really suicide.
post #5 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by FormerARSgm View Post

We're not a sweat shop, BUT... We will allow our employees to work 100+ hours each week in order to earn a decent wage. BUT, it's all legal cause they sign a release to be worked into the ground. AND, we provide cute white uniforms with no pockets for a nominal fee.

unfortunatly that's true :/
post #6 of 73
300,000 people living in housing facilities must be very stressful regardless of the actual working conditions. Most of those people are probably young not used to be away from their families. I can see where 10 people a year might be unstable enough to become suicidal. What is that? .003 percent?

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post #7 of 73
The World Health Organization indicates the nationwide suicide rate in China is something like 14 per 100,000 people. Foxconn's 10 out of 300,000 in one year is actually lower than that.
post #8 of 73
Yeah but we could never afford all our cool Apple toys without slaves making them for us. Thanks Mr. How Long.
post #9 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

This really represents a failure of the Chinese government to pass and enforce labor protection laws. If Intel employees were committing suicide over harsh conditions at a plant in the US, would it be Apple's responsibility to investigate and blow the whistle? Of course not -- it would be the responsibility of the state and federal governments to take action against Intel. Similarly, it really ought to be the Chinese government taking the lead here, not Apple. I mean, it's nice that Apple is doing it, but this is ultimately a Chinese failure.

Well Apple is demanding they produce the goods at the lowest possible price, so this is a consequence of that.

For supposedly premium products, why does Apple use a low tier manufacturer like Foxcon? Their motherboards not well regarded in the PC world, so I doubt things are different with Apple. Mac do seem to have very high rates of logic board failure.
post #10 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nothlit View Post

The World Health Organization indicates the nationwide suicide rate in China is something like 14 per 100,000 people. Foxconn's 10 out of 300,000 in one year is actually lower than that.

Before you start spouting those statistics, you should read the story of what life is like for those workers. I would kill myself too if I lived like that.

http://gizmodo.com/5542527/undercove...s-hell-factory
post #11 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

This really represents a failure of the Chinese government to pass and enforce labor protection laws. If Intel employees were committing suicide over harsh conditions at a plant in the US, would it be Apple's responsibility to investigate and blow the whistle? Of course not -- it would be the responsibility of the state and federal governments to take action against Intel. Similarly, it really ought to be the Chinese government taking the lead here, not Apple. I mean, it's nice that Apple is doing it, but this is ultimately a Chinese failure.

It may not be Apple's responsibility per se, but that doesn't not mean they have to sit idly by. They are in a unique position to apply pressure and affect change. They could really take the lead here as far as computer companies go like they have with their "green" initiatives. You are paying a premium for a "boutique" computer. It would be nice to see that extra expense be leveraged for a program like this.
post #12 of 73
Doesn't China have like a law that prohibits its citizens from having more than two children?
post #13 of 73
This is nonsense and shameful reporting. Of course, the author fails to mention that FoxConn labor force is larger than some cities and statistically, the suicide rate for that number of people they still falls below the "norm" for a city with that general population. But hey, the author gets extra web hits by inserting "Apple" into it.

There could be numerous reasons why those individuals decide to commit suicide. Factor in their age, the stress of trying to make a living, they got dumped by their girlfriend, etc...

It's still sad to read it. At the minimum, I hope the negative press covereage FoxConn and Wintek is receiving will at least lead to better working conditions instead of the herded farm animals style of living.
post #14 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by zindako View Post

Doesn't China have like a law that prohibits its citizens from having more than two children?

Yes. A friend of mine here is an exchange student from Beijing. She told me that the single-child policy is still in effect.
post #15 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

Yes. A friend of mine here is an exchange student from Beijing. She told me that the single-child policy is still in effect.


That in itself can have negative effects on a child's mental well being. Two parents and four grand parents all spoiling them. An entire society without a brother or sister.

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post #16 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by str1f3 View Post

Before you start spouting those statistics, you should read the story of what life is like for those workers. I would kill myself too if I lived like that.

http://gizmodo.com/5542527/undercove...s-hell-factory

Sure, but that's not really the point. This article is saying that suicides are 'mounting', but in fact the suicides are below the national average for China as well as the US and a large number of other countries.

The fact that the working conditions are bad is obviously of serious concern - but the suicide rate doesn't really seem to be.
post #17 of 73
Apple needs to move its manufacturing to the US and invest heavily in automation. There no justification to use economic slavery in the quest for profits. Especially for a company with $30-40B in cash. There are a lot of states in the US that do not have relatively low labor cost, and no state income taxes.
post #18 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by stonefree View Post

Well Apple is demanding they produce the goods at the lowest possible price, so this is a consequence of that.

For supposedly premium products, why does Apple use a low tier manufacturer like Foxcon? Their motherboards not well regarded in the PC world, so I doubt things are different with Apple. Mac do seem to have very high rates of logic board failure.

This is, of course, nonsense.

First, you're assuming that Foxconn is at fault here. Given the figures that have already been provided, the suicide rate is LOWER than the national average, so it's not clear why you're not offering Foxconn a medal.

Furthermore, Apple is alone of US computer manufacturers who actually audits their suppliers for labor issues. When the last round of Apple-bashing came out, several suppliers indicated that only Apple even bothered to check - and the problems were found specifically due to Apple's investigations. So why are you blaming Apple?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AjitMD View Post

Apple needs to move its manufacturing to the US and invest heavily in automation. There no justification to use economic slavery in the quest for profits. Especially for a company with $30-40B in cash. There are a lot of states in the US that do not have relatively low labor cost, and no state income taxes.

Please name a state in the U.S. that has laborers who work for $1 per day. And please explain where Apple can inexpensively buy the level of automation that would be needed to build these devices - automation that would quickly become obsolete.

Do you really believe that Apple hasn't looked at U.S. manufacturing options? It really amazes me how many people think that they know the situation well enough to tell Apple what to do.

It's a societal problem. We've become so enamored of inexpensive products, that nothing else matters - the Walmartization of America. Then, to make matters worse, we never came down hard on China 15 years ago to force them to let their currency float. That is clearly one of the worse economic decisions we've EVER made in this country.
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post #19 of 73
Their strategy of killing themselves until the union gets what it wants is failing miserably.
post #20 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

...That incident came only days after Southern Weekend issued an undercover report, revealing that employees sign "voluntary overtime affidavits" to take home more than the $132 equivalent local minimum wage that can be earned through a regular 36-hour workweek. Workers at the plant reportedly said, "without overtime, you can hardly make a living."

I have no idea what that paragraph means.
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post #21 of 73
One of the problems is that this article ignores the overall suicide rate in China. With over 3000,000 employees in one city alone, there are bound to be a certain number of suicides each year. Whether working conditions have anything to do with this or not is a real question. However a responsible reporter would bring up this connection with the overall suicide rate.

How many people who work for any American big company commit suicide in one year? So McDonalds has almost 500,000 employees and USA has rat of about 22 suicides per 100,000. So I imagine that McDonalds has about 100 employees commit suicide every year. But no one is writing about it.

See:
"Because the assertion of a "suicide cluster" is something that need not be accepted uncritically. Let's do the sad math. The rate of suicide in China is, according to the WHO, 13.0 per 100,000 for men, and 14.8 per 100,000 for women (China is one of the few countries where the female suicide rate exceeds the male one). Given 300,000 employees at Foxconn's massive Shenzhen facility, we should, therefore, expect somewhere between 39 and 43 suicides a year -- tragedies, but also the interplay of known suicide rates and a large company population."

http://seekingalpha.com/article/2053...er-blame-apple
post #22 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nothlit View Post

The World Health Organization indicates the nationwide suicide rate in China is something like 14 per 100,000 people. Foxconn's 10 out of 300,000 in one year is actually lower than that.

Yup. Actual facts lost on "journalists" trying to fabricate a crisis.
post #23 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nothlit View Post

The World Health Organization indicates the nationwide suicide rate in China is something like 14 per 100,000 people. Foxconn's 10 out of 300,000 in one year is actually lower than that.

By the article you quote it is 14.8 for women + 13 for men = almost 28/100,000 population (assuming roughly equal number men/women).
post #24 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by str1f3 View Post

Before you start spouting those statistics, you should read the story of what life is like for those workers. I would kill myself too if I lived like that.

It's like college and dorms.
post #25 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by stonefree View Post

Well Apple is demanding they produce the goods at the lowest possible price, so this is a consequence of that.

For supposedly premium products, why does Apple use a low tier manufacturer like Foxcon? Their motherboards not well regarded in the PC world, so I doubt things are different with Apple. Mac do seem to have very high rates of logic board failure.

Apple (and every other company) demands the same thing of Intel and every other supplier, and customers demand the same thing of every company in the world. We all want the best product we can get for the lowest price. That doesn't mean that we're all responsible for the Chinese government's unwillingness to pass and enforce labor laws.
post #26 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by bloodstains View Post

It may not be Apple's responsibility per se, but that doesn't not mean they have to sit idly by. They are in a unique position to apply pressure and affect change. They could really take the lead here as far as computer companies go like they have with their "green" initiatives. You are paying a premium for a "boutique" computer. It would be nice to see that extra expense be leveraged for a program like this.

And they are doing more than any other tech company that uses these suppliers. Apple did their own investigation and published the findings -- findings that were not at all flattering. Apple is doing more than their fair share. Frankly, the Chinese government should be embarrassed that Apple feels the need to do it at all. Whose responsibility is it to protect Chinese citizens -- a foreign multinational company or the Chinese government? Can you imagine if US workers had to rely on Toyota to force an American tire supplier to follow US law because the US government was so completely negligent in its duties?
post #27 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmmx View Post

By the article you quote it is 14.8 for women + 13 for men = almost 28/100,000 population (assuming roughly equal number men/women).

No, 14.8 per 100,000 women + 13 per 100,000 men == 27.8 per 200,0000 or ~14 per 100,000
post #28 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by AjitMD View Post

Apple needs to move its manufacturing to the US and invest heavily in automation. There no justification to use economic slavery in the quest for profits. Especially for a company with $30-40B in cash. There are a lot of states in the US that do not have relatively low labor cost, and no state income taxes.

As noble a thought as that is, the smart people at Apple would have done that if it were feasible. What you morons fail to notice is that while almost all of the other consumer electronics engineering has moved outside of the states, Apple develops these products in Cupertino. Stop vilifying this company, holding it to a ghost standard. Hold other companies to Apple's standard, let's start there.
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post #29 of 73
And for all the trolls spinning this as Apple's problem alone this from Foxconn's Wikipedia entry...

"Among other things, Foxconn produces the Mac mini, the iPod, the iPad, and the iPhone for Apple Inc.; Intel-branded motherboards for Intel Corp.; various orders for American computer manufacturers Dell and Hewlett-Packard; motherboards for UK computer manufacturer Zoostorm; the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 for Sony; the Wii for Nintendo; the Xbox 360 for Microsoft, cell phones for Motorola, the Amazon Kindle, and Cisco equipment.[2][3][4][5]"

The trolls (journalists?) seem to leave this little fact out when bashing Apple for this unfortunate state of affairs.
post #30 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by AjitMD View Post

Apple needs to move its manufacturing to the US and invest heavily in automation. There no justification to use economic slavery in the quest for profits. Especially for a company with $30-40B in cash. There are a lot of states in the US that do not have relatively low labor cost, and no state income taxes.

Also, I bet you're the same dude who will balk at paying full price for cellphones, balk at airfares in America, balk at the cost of American made goods. You can't have it both ways. You also can't wait till someone gets successful and then demand that they share their bounty with you. While I'm no ardent supporter of Ayn Rand's brand of objectivism, your situation reminds of the Atlas Shrugged story, where people demanded to ride on the backs and strong shoulders of the few people that actually bothered to do something.
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post #31 of 73
Condolences to the person and their family.

That said foxconn suicide rate is still way lower than their national suicide rate, and lower than a lot of tec companies. Ask France telecom who have the count of 30+ if I remember correctly.

But of course a lot of money is spent nowadays to the press by competitors to throw dirt at apple, since they can't put any decent product on the market. I am sure if someone tracked ms, intel, dell, google etc. they past 6 months they will have their fair share of suicides, if they didn't it would defy international statistics on suicides.

Anyway, people are not numbers, so above all rip to the deceased .
post #32 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

Yes. A friend of mine here is an exchange student from Beijing. She told me that the single-child policy is still in effect.

it is one child policy mostly in city while not applicable to minority. in countryside, it is pretty much that this policy is ignored widespread. those working in foxconn mostly come from country instead of city.
post #33 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by str1f3 View Post

Before you start spouting those statistics, you should read the story of what life is like for those workers. I would kill myself too if I lived like that.

http://gizmodo.com/5542527/undercove...s-hell-factory

Perhaps Foxconn's suicide rate is high among such factories or perhaps this is a focus on Apple, but he made no claim that the conditions are good or acceptable by our standards. He merely pointed out that it's still well below the national average.
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post #34 of 73
I love it how all you people are so quick to quote Chinese suicide statistics. If their suicide statistics are as accurate as their economic ones, I wouldn't put very much stock in it.

Lastly, why are you all so quick to defend Apple? I'm sure you all would gladly pay another $20 to have things made in the USA. Heck, its a selling point in this high unemployment era. Especially with all the billions in cash laying around.

There have been living wage initiatives with coffee, why not computers?
post #35 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by AjitMD View Post

Apple needs to move its manufacturing to the US and invest heavily in automation. There no justification to use economic slavery in the quest for profits. Especially for a company with $30-40B in cash. There are a lot of states in the US that do not have relatively low labor cost, and no state income taxes.

I guess we can take you off the list of the "People Who Know Something About The Tech Biz List"

NOBODY is manufacturing CE and/or computer gear in the US.

You MIGHT still find SUPER EXPENSIVE signature audiophile / videophile stuff still made in the US but when they charge $15,000 for a DVD player or $60,000 for a pair of front speakers then I guess they certainly could afford to have em made in the US but I defy you to find any big-name competitively priced CE products that are MADE in the US. However, even those high priced companies have finally gone overseas too. Oh and IMPORTING a bunch of pre-assembeled circuit boards, screwing them into a case (made who knows where) and tacking on a power supply (also made who knows where) does NOT count as 'Made in USA'.
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post #36 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveGee View Post

I guess we can take you off the list of the "People Who Know Something About The Tech Biz List"

NOBODY is manufacturing CE and/or computer gear in the US.

You MIGHT still find SUPER EXPENSIVE signature audiophile / videophile stuff still made in the US but when they charge $15,000 for a DVD player or $60,000 for a pair of front speakers then I guess they certainly could afford to have em made in the US but I defy you to find any big-name competitively priced CE products that are MADE in the US. However, even those high priced companies have finally gone overseas too. Oh and IMPORTING a bunch of pre-assembeled circuit boards, screwing them into a case (made who knows where) and tacking on a power supply (also made who knows where) does NOT count as 'Made in USA'.

Wrong, intel has one in Arizona
post #37 of 73
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post #38 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nothlit View Post

The World Health Organization indicates the nationwide suicide rate in China is something like 14 per 100,000 people. Foxconn's 10 out of 300,000 in one year is actually lower than that.

For the U.S., the National Institute of Mental Health at the NIH reports an annual suicide rate of 10.9 per 100,000 people. The average age of Foxconn workers is probably below the average age of all U.S. citizens, though. For young adults in the U.S., the suicide rate is higher than for the general population, at 12.5 per 100,000 in young adults ages 20-24. For adolescents in the U.S., the rate drops to 8.2 per 100,000, which is still much worse than Foxconn's apparent suicide rate.

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publi...on/index.shtml
post #39 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by zindako View Post

Doesn't China have like a law that prohibits its citizens from having more than two children?

I don't know if that's still true. But China must have a law like we do in the U.S. that prohibits suicide.
post #40 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post

I don't know if that's still true. But China must have a law like we do in the U.S. that prohibits suicide.

They must have, but hey also have a living reality that promotes it...
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