Foxconn official says employee had suspicious history

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
After a Foxconn employee allegedly committed suicide when an iPhone prototype vanished, an official with the Chinese manufacturing company said the former employee had demonstrated a pattern of suspiciously losing products.



Speaking with The New York Times, James Lee, general manager of China operations, said the employee's explanation for the missing phone did not seem credible.



?Several times he had some products missing, then he got them back,? Lee said. ?We don?t know who took the product, but it was at his stop.?



A Times reporter was given a tour of the Chinese company's facilities, but was not allowed to see the assembly line to protect trade secrets. When the reporter spoke with employees outside of the company's control, one of about 15 admitted they were forced to work overtime beyond the legal limit.



Sun Danyong allegedly killed himself after a prototype he was responsible for -- reportedly a fourth-generation iPhone -- went missing. Prior to his death, friends said he told them he was subjected to "unbearable interrogation techniques" by Foxconn employees, leading some to believe he was beaten. Sun reportedly had his property seized and was held in solitary confinement before he jumped from a 12-story building last week.



The Times also reported that Foxconn paid Sun's family a settlement of about $44,000 and an Apple laptop computer. As a translator spoke to the family last week, a security guard, joined by two men in Foxconn shirts, threatened the translator and told them to stop asking the family questions. Foxconn officials later said the person was not on their staff.



When the story of Sun's death first began to spread, Apple issued a response.



"We are saddened by the tragic loss of this young employee and we are awaiting results of the investigations into his death," an Apple spokesperson said. "We require our suppliers to treat all workers with dignity and respect."



Industry experts overseas have said it is unlikely that Apple will end its manufacturing partnership with Foxconn.



The alleged suicide is one of numerous scandals that has hurt the Chinese company's image. Apple audited Foxconn in 2006 after reports surfaced in a British newspaper about supposed poor working conditions in the Chinese factories. And this month, the company's foreign factories
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 65
    pg4gpg4g Posts: 383member
    This is... very worrying.



    Foxconn seems to have very little respect for its employees, and with China's record on trying to maintain "public image" over "true integrity", there seems to be very little that Foxconn WOULDN'T say. I personally find anything that Foxconn says to be hard to believe in fullness.



    Anything Foxconn says will be tainted with business interest, not integrity. Their business is based on Apple's buying from them, and thats based on public image and integrity. If they lose that, people may not be happy with Apple, and Apple may be FORCED to change. We don't see what happens in the factories. That means they can say whatever they like, and not let anyone actually SEE what's going on.



    Chinese "honesty" doesn't really convince me - from the Government, or from their businesses. They are both of a country and culture where they say one thing, and do something totally different.
  • Reply 2 of 65
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,228member
    We will never know of course. There are many possible scenarios one of which is he was pushed I guess ... but that could have been by the people he was perhaps working with to acquire these devices i.e. a competitor of Apple, now realizing he may talk. It is the stuff movies are made of!
  • Reply 3 of 65
    So he has a suspicious history, but the trust him to handle what's likely their most protected new product? This story sounds pretty suspicious.



    Foxconn manager #1: We need to send 16 iPhones prototype to Apple headquarters. Who should take care of that.

    Foxconn manager #2: We'll have Sun Danyong do it.

    Foxconn manager #1: Sun? But he has a history of suspiciously losing products.

    Foxconn manager #2: What's the big deal? They're only super secret fourth-generation iPhones, why would anyone want to steal those?
  • Reply 4 of 65
    mystigomystigo Posts: 120member
    The posthumous definition of a man's character by those who stand accused of involvement in his death should be taken with a grain of salt me thinks.
  • Reply 5 of 65
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,228member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PG4G View Post


    This is... very worrying.





    Chinese "honesty" doesn't really convince me - from the Government, or from their businesses. They are both of a country and culture where they say one thing, and do something totally different.



    Partial quote



    I hate to be cynical but US tobacco companies, banks, real estate appraisers, insurance companies and many other examples in our free enterprise, democratic model don't seem to be paragons of virtue in these respects either. Where money and people are involved you can expect strange stuff going on. Sad but true.
  • Reply 6 of 65
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,215member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mystigo View Post


    The posthumous definition of a man's character by those who stand accused of involvement in his death should be taken with a grain of salt me thinks.



    yes but typically wouldn't you also take it with a grain of salt when the only proof of something is 'friends of'. friends that could have been in a scheme to photograph etc one of these prototypes. and after caught are trying to say that the man was tortured etc. tis curious.



    also curious is how the item was missing apparently for 4 days before reported. or supposed noticed as missing. which actually fits with this newest story of 'losing' things and then 'oops, nope, there it is'. consider the number of rumors sourced from 'in china' and 'insiders at a chinese supplier'.



    and then there is the two very different stories about how the missing prototype was found to be missing. widely different stories. one with the employee apparently having an unsealed box and 'realizing' it was missing and thinking he left it at the factory by accident. and the other story of having it discovered when the box reached Apple and someone thinking "hey weren't they supposed to send us 16, not 15 and looking up and finding yes, it was supposed to be 16".



    all of this makes things questionable. and somehow I doubt we will ever find out the truth.
  • Reply 7 of 65
    pg4gpg4g Posts: 383member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


    Partial quote



    I hate to be cynical but US tobacco companies, banks, real estate appraisers, insurance companies and many other examples in our free enterprise, democratic model don't seem to be paragons of virtue in these respects either. Where money and people are involved you can expect strange stuff going on. Sad but true.



    Perhaps. But there is very little transparency here.



    In America, or Australia where I live, someone would take a picture of how things are, and it would be all over the news, and the government would regulate and actively control and enforce law.



    China is different. There is no accountability (or very little) to hold a company to the law. And China will actively ignore the law if it works to their own benefit. They're not worried about their employee's working conditions. They're only worried about their "bigger picture" - how China can succeed as an economic superpower.
  • Reply 8 of 65
    godriflegodrifle Posts: 266member
    Quote:

    After a Foxconn employee allegedly committed suicide when an iPhone prototype vanished, an official with the Chinese manufacturing company said the former employee had demonstrated a pattern of suspiciously losing products.



    Oh, well that's different then. Driving a man to kill himself on a first offense is over the top, but if he's got a history of misplacing electronic gadgets with a shelf-life of 12 months...





    Shame Apple.
  • Reply 9 of 65
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,588member
    Looks like that if you steal from Foxconn you really are for the high jump!
  • Reply 10 of 65
    mac voyermac voyer Posts: 1,283member
    As my brother used to say, "If you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas." This sort of press is just the price of doing business in China. It is naive to think that work conditions and human rights would be the same in a factory in China as it is in America. That is why companies do business there in the first place. If Apple wanted to make sure that all employees were treated with respect and dignity with a decent wage for work ratio, they would build the products in America. This is the result of saving money at any cost.



    This is the inevitable conclusion of lying down with a totalitarian state. Just ask Google.
  • Reply 11 of 65
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,743member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mac Voyer View Post


    As my brother used to say, "If you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas." This sort of press is just the price of doing business in China. It is naive to think that work conditions and human rights would be the same in a factory in China as it is in America. That is why companies do business there in the first place. If Apple wanted to make sure that all employees were treated with respect and dignity with a decent wage for work ratio, they would build the products in America. This is the result of saving money at any cost.



    This is the inevitable conclusion of lying down with a totalitarian state. Just ask Google.



    Apple can't babysit its suppliers.



    And it really isn't that easy to open up shop in the US. Not so easy to afford anymore. Powerful unions made sure of that.
  • Reply 12 of 65
    successsuccess Posts: 1,039member
    Three words.





    MKULTRA.
  • Reply 13 of 65
    julesltjuleslt Posts: 26member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post


    And it really isn't that easy to open up shop in the US. Not so easy to afford anymore. Powerful unions made sure of that.



    Powerful unions who do things like ensure their workers are paid a minimum wage / for the hours they work / don't work in life-threatening environments, etc.



    The problem is that it's not as simple as Apple moving their manufacturing back to the US, or even opening their own factories in China and employing Chinese staff under fair conditions, when they have to compete with rivals still manufacturing in China, and turning a blind eye to what's going on.



    And the only solution to this ? improved conditions for workers - is going to mean lowered margins or higher prices for consumers (or robots becoming cheaper than paying third world salaries).
  • Reply 14 of 65
    zoolookzoolook Posts: 657member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nbidgood View Post


    So he has a suspicious history, but the trust him to handle what's likely their most protected new product? This story sounds pretty suspicious.



    Foxconn manager #1: We need to send 16 iPhones prototype to Apple headquarters. Who should take care of that.

    Foxconn manager #2: We'll have Sun Danyong do it.

    Foxconn manager #1: Sun? But he has a history of suspiciously losing products.

    Foxconn manager #2: What's the big deal? They're only super secret fourth-generation iPhones, why would anyone want to steal those?



    Exactly, you hit the nail on the head. I really wish we didn't make things in China with these companies. Foxxcon should be held accountable.
  • Reply 15 of 65
    hattighattig Posts: 830member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post


    Apple can't babysit its suppliers.



    And it really isn't that easy to open up shop in the US. Not so easy to afford anymore. Powerful unions made sure of that.



    Robotic assembly can replace most of the manual work in assembling products. The problem is that Chinese workers are cheaper than robots, despite all of the upkeep. Robots are cheaper than Western workers however, but why invest in their development when a cheaper alternative exists?



    I'm sure that the unibody construction is all robotic / automatic now. The PCB assembly will be automatic. Final assembly is what isn't automatic, but could be made automatic if money was invested in it. I wonder if Apple have a long term plan for this.



    Alternatively they could set up assembly plants in the US that don't have unions (or have an in-house union, like Toyota), just like many other companies have done. Or they could set up factories in Europe.



    It isn't as if Apple is Foxconn's only customer. Foxconn are one of the biggest companies on the planet, and will probably provide assembly/manufacturing facilities to most of the big name computer / electronics manufacturers. So you can't shun Apple for this, as you'd have to shun modern life itself! Apple are a big enough customer to demand improvements however.



    And I don't trust a single thing that Foxconn are saying. Like all corporations they just have themselves in mind.
  • Reply 16 of 65
    zoolookzoolook Posts: 657member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post


    Apple can't babysit its suppliers.



    And it really isn't that easy to open up shop in the US. Not so easy to afford anymore. Powerful unions made sure of that.



    I'm not exactly a big fan of unions myself, but there is some irony in your comment. The reason unions existed in the first place was to ensure basic human rights and prevent this kind of thing happening.



    By the way, this is not limited to Apple or even China. South America is notorious for this kind of thing happening as well, Coca-Cola amongst others have an appalling track record of human right abuses in some countries.
  • Reply 17 of 65
    tcphototcphoto Posts: 65member
    Amazing, a man's life is worth $44K and a top of the line notebook. If this man's history was so questionable, why would they trust him with such an important prototype? Something stinks and it isn't the workers who are forced to work overtime with no compensation.
  • Reply 18 of 65
    jasenj1jasenj1 Posts: 916member
    Unfortunately, if we were to dig into other manufacturers' practices in China I doubt we'd find much difference. As others have pointed out, China does not care for its workers at anywhere near a level we would consider humane in the USA or Europe - that's why manufacturing has moved there.



    I doubt Apple, Dell, Cisco, Nike, etc., etc. really have much say (or want much say) in how their subcontractors treat their employees. As long as products show up, and the subcontractor is not in trouble with their own government, all is well.



    - Jasen.
  • Reply 19 of 65
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,265member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post


    And it really isn't that easy to open up shop in the US. Not so easy to afford anymore. Powerful unions made sure of that.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JulesLt View Post


    Powerful unions who do things like ensure their workers are paid a minimum wage / for the hours they work / don't work in life-threatening environments, etc.



    Powerful unions who ensure that students only get the bare legal minimum of classroom time (5.5 hours/day) so teachers can work fewer hours, or who say that you can't work for a company unless you join our union and pay union dues whether you want to or not, or who protect incompetent pharmacists, who keep screwing up people's perscriptions, because he has seniority.



    I have witnessed all of these behaviors. I don't think all union activites are bad, but I view them like religions. They can be a positive influence in our lives. But when they get too much power, they cause more harm than good.
  • Reply 20 of 65
    kolchakkolchak Posts: 1,398member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JulesLt View Post


    Powerful unions who do things like ensure their workers are paid a minimum wage / for the hours they work / don't work in life-threatening environments, etc.



    A "minimum" wage? Try telling that to UAW workers who make somewhat more than a "minimum" wage. I hate to break this to you, but all of the above is handled by the government now. Ever hear of the Fair Labor Standards Act? Or OSHA? Labor unions have outlived their usefulness. All they're good for nowadays is hurting the economy or sucking companies dry. Look at what the unions did to GM. Look at Stella D'Oro, where workers get something like $20 an hour, not exactly minimum wage, and 9 weeks of vacation a year. The union there wasn't satisified and said "strike!" The workers went. The owners announced they are closing up the factory. Big win for the workers, no?
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