Apple looking into Foxconn suicides, says it is 'saddened and upset'

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
As overseas electronics manufacturer Foxconn continues to come under fire for a number of suicides over the last year, Apple has officially commented on the matter and revealed that it plans to carry out its own independent investigations.



"We are saddened and upset by the recent suicides at Foxconn," the company said in a public statement. "Apple is deeply committed to ensuring that conditions throughout our supply chain are safe and workers are treated with respect and dignity. We are in direct contact with Foxconn senior management and we believe they are taking this matter very seriously."



According to Reuters, Apple went on to say that it has added its own investigation team to carry out independent evaluations of Foxconn to "address these tragic events." Foxconn has come under fire after 10 factory workers are believed to have killed themselves over the last year.



The latest development is not the first time Apple has had to look into Foxconn. In 2006, Apple began conducting a thorough audit of the company's manufacturing plant that created iPods. That came after a newspaper report suggested that workers at the plant were treated unfairly and forced to operate under sweatshop-like conditions.



Apple now releases an annual audit of its overseas partners. Last year's review found that more than half weren't paying their workers valid overtime rates.



But Apple -- and numerous other electronics manufacturers -- have maintained their business relationships with Foxconn, and the company is believed to be the manufacturer of the next-generation iPhone expected to debut at the Worldwide Developers Conference on June 7.



In addition to creating iPhones and iPads for Apple, Foxconn -- the registered trade name of Hon Hai Precision Industry -- is also responsible for products from the biggest companies in the electronics industry, including Apple, HP, Dell, and Nokia. Those companies may use their power to leverage Foxconn into taking further action, Andrew Deng, analyst with Taiwan International Securities, told Reuters.



"It's a crucial issue that Hon Hai has to deal with right away," he said. "If not, Nokia, HP and Apple might cut their orders as pressure against buying their products could be mounting."



Just before the 10th suicide on Tuesday, when a 19-year-old worker who had been with the company just 42 days jumped from a building to his death, Foxconn chairman Terry Gou insisted to reporters that his company is not running a "sweatshop." But the troubles for the company continue to mount, as it most recently issued a letter workers said included a clause saying the company would pay no more than the legal minimum for injuries sustained outside the workplace. Gou later apologized for the letter and took it back, calling the language inappropriate.



Gou also reportedly gave a tour of the Foxconn facilities this week, emphasizing to reporters the worker amenities provided. He showed off an Olympic-size swimming pool, banks, bakeries, and dormitories that the 400,000 employees utilized.



According to The Wall Street Journal, Gou said his company has launched antisuicide measures, including the construction of safety nets around Foxconn's plant to prevent workers from jumping to their deaths. They also brought in academic experts and counselors to talk with employees, invited a group of Buddhist monks to pray for the factory, and established the "Foxconn Employee Care Center."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 47
    I think a lot of these workers are being pressurised from outside to smuggle new products out of the factory, i.e. the 'lost'4G iPhone. I don't feel it has anything to do with Foxconn directly, rather pressure from 'gangs' maybe hassling workers to get goods out the factory to break Apple's secrecy around their future products.



    Just my two penneth..
  • Reply 2 of 47
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,716member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    As overseas electronics manufacturer Foxconn continues to come under fire for a number of suicides over the last year, Apple has officially commented on the matter and revealed that it plans to carry out its own independent investigations.



    "We are saddened and upset by the recent suicides at Foxconn," the company said in a public statement. "Apple is deeply committed to ensuring that conditions throughout our supply chain are safe and workers are treated with respect and dignity. We are in direct contact with Foxconn senior management and we believe they are taking this matter very seriously."



    According to Reuters, Apple went on to say that it has added its own investigation team to carry out independent evaluations of Foxconn to "address these tragic events." Foxconn has come under fire after 10 factory workers are believed to have killed themselves over the last year.



    According data from to the Association for Asian Research, the Chinese suicide rate is 230 per million. (FTA: "China?s suicide rate is 2.3 times the world average.")



    As sad as these statistics are, the Chinese average of 230 per million is on the order of 9.2 times higher than the "10 per 400,000" inferred from the story. Even the worldwide average of 100 per million is still 4 times higher that what FoxConn is seeing.



    This is one of those stories that sound absolutely horrendous when you read it, and it's always a personal tragedy for their loved ones, but the raw statistics don't bear out that this is the sociological tragedy this story makes it out to be. The sad fact is that there are a lot of college campuses all over the world that would like their suicide rates to drop to 25 per million.



    Parenthetically, when did Reuters stop doing actual research for their stories?
  • Reply 3 of 47
    oodlumoodlum Posts: 36member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by John.B View Post


    According data from to the Association for Asian Research, the Chinese suicide rate is 230 per million. (FTA: "China?s suicide rate is 2.3 times the world average.")



    As sad as these statistics are, the Chinese average of 230 per million is on the order of 9.2 times higher than the "10 per 400,000" inferred from the story. Even the worldwide average of 100 per million is still 4 times higher that what FoxConn is seeing.



    This is one of those stories that sound absolutely horrendous when you read it, and it's always a personal tragedy for their loved ones, but the raw statistics don't bear out that this is the sociological tragedy this story makes it out to be. The sad fact is that there are a lot of college campuses all over the world that would like their suicide rates to drop to 25 per million.



    Parenthetically, when did Reuters stop doing actual research for their stories?



    Very well said.
  • Reply 4 of 47
    icarbonicarbon Posts: 196member
    I've seen alot of these comparisons of the global suicide rate vs. foxconn's suicide rates -- the difference being that at foxconn all suicides are employed adults. What are the statistics for suicides among employed adults? I would suspect that it is lower than the global suicide rate -- if only because unemployment is often a major driver for suicide.
  • Reply 5 of 47
    banalltvbanalltv Posts: 238member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Gou also ... showed off an Olympic-size swimming pool, banks, bakeries, and dormitories that the 400,000 employees utilized.



    Now lets hope there were actually workers in that pool, freely enjoying the facilities.
  • Reply 6 of 47
    cgc0202cgc0202 Posts: 624member
    As one of the Westernized Asians, I "wholeheartedly agree" with the posters sentiments expressed in the related post:



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



    We Westerners or Westernized, especially us Americans, should stop buying products of all companies that manufacture or import products from other countries that:
    1. do not pay their workers decent mimimum wage

    2. do not pass laws to guarantee decent mimimum wage

    3. do not past laws to protect the health and welfare of workers

    4. that are under communist regime, or for America, countries that are under Socialist regime.

    5. especially China where draconians laws are enforced to control their population growth

    and other inhumane practices and policies (add your own pet grievance here).



    Further, I would support the solemn vow posted that "If given the choice between buying an iPhone (etc) made in a Chinese sweatshop" I would willingly pay " say £100***" more for every product, like the "iPhone (etc.)" ... if "made in a developed country".



    Really!



    "I'd buy the latter, every time. I'd like to be given the choice."



    Wouldn't you?



    CGC



    ***calculate the equivalent in your own currency
  • Reply 7 of 47
    What this is, is nothing less than extremely troubling. It seems that most of these events center around Foxconn, but at the same time, are other manufacturing operations in China any better? Do you ever wonder what else we might not be hearing about?



    I think Foxconn makes fine products, and they sure do make a lot of stuff. But if the price is their workers' right to dignity, fair wages and fair treatment--that price is too high and I'll not be buying any more Foxconn products. I don't know that I can do anything about those using Foxconn parts or those hiring Foxconn to build products, but I will do what I can.
  • Reply 8 of 47
    desarcdesarc Posts: 642member
    We are saddened and upset, but the billions and billions in profit is worth far more to us than the human lives working in concentration camps on our products. Don't worry, we will fly our private jets there for a publicity photo shoot of us with sad and upset faces.



    People need to demand that Apple think different about slave labor.
  • Reply 9 of 47
    bdkennedy1bdkennedy1 Posts: 1,459member
    Let's not forgot that these workers are not being forced to work there. They have every ability to quit if they want.
  • Reply 10 of 47
    pokepoke Posts: 506member
    The media always reports this as being related to Apple or the iPad but Foxconn also produces major products such as the Xbox 360, the Playstation 2 and 3, the Wii, the Amazon Kindle and various products for Dell, HP and Intel. I realise the media is just trying to jump on the iPad/iPhone hype bandwagon but people are already talking about this like it's solely Apple's problem and is somehow related to their greater secrecy. Not to mention the media doesn't compare it to suicide rates in China or even other factories or other institutions of a similar size.
  • Reply 11 of 47
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,530member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by UnexpectedBill View Post


    What this is, is nothing less than extremely troubling. It seems that most of these events center around Foxconn, but at the same time, are other manufacturing operations in China any better? Do you ever wonder what else we might not be hearing about?



    I think Foxconn makes fine products, and they sure do make a lot of stuff. But if the price is their workers' right to dignity, fair wages and fair treatment--that price is too high and I'll not be buying any more Foxconn products. I don't know that I can do anything about those using Foxconn parts or those hiring Foxconn to build products, but I will do what I can.



    Foxconn makes the Xbox, Playstation 2, Wii, the Kindle. motherboadrs for Intel, as well as the iPhone, Mac Mini, etc. Look it up. Your misplaced concern may make you feel better but it won't change anything. If you really want to put your money where your mouth is then don't buy ANY electronics from anybody. If you think Foxconn is alone in this you are sorely mistaken. We are hearing about Foxconn because Apple is a customer. You don't see this hand wringing goin on the Wii, Kindle, Xbox, Playstation forums do you? I wonder why that is? Any ideas? No, really, why haven't these other companies been dragged into this discussion?
  • Reply 12 of 47
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,530member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by desarc View Post


    We are saddened and upset, but the billions and billions in profit is worth far more to us than the human lives working in concentration camps on our products. Don't worry, we will fly our private jets there for a publicity photo shoot of us with sad and upset faces.



    People need to demand that Apple think different about slave labor.



    What about Microsoft, Amazon, Sony, et al, who also use Foxconn to manufacture their products. Or are you just an Apple bashing hypocrite using Foxconn products from other companies? We'd really like an answer from you.
  • Reply 13 of 47
    crimguycrimguy Posts: 116member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post


    Let's not forgot that these workers are not being forced to work there. They have every ability to quit if they want.



    Yes, because China has a job for every citizen, just like the United States. No one physically forces anyone to work, but one doesn't have much choice when the alternative is the bread line. Hardly a consideration in my opinion.



    Does anyone else find the use of "suicide nets" to be bizarre?
  • Reply 14 of 47
    cgc0202cgc0202 Posts: 624member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iCarbon View Post


    I've seen alot of these comparisons of the global suicide rate vs. foxconn's suicide rates -- the difference being that at foxconn all suicides are employed adults. What are the statistics for suicides among employed adults? I would suspect that it is lower than the global suicide rate -- if only because unemployment is often a major driver for suicide.



    Suicide is a more personal and one directional recourse of one's frustrations in life. And since humans are supposed to be the special species with the ability to choose: Which would be a better choice for a society? Recourse to suicide or a life of frustration that lead to:
    1. alcoholism and driving under the influence (DUI) that lead to more deaths (in the US the number one cause of death and grave injuries, especially among young people, are vehicle related incidents)?

    2. drug abuse, that have its own complex ramifications, including crime and murder?

    3. a sense of hopelessness that lead to "individual acts of fatalism" or group acts that foster violent behaviors against the government, society in general or defined group of people within a society?

    I am sure we could think of more.



    I have lived in both Western and non-Western countries. It is true that there are horrible things happening in other countries, but I am not sure it is any better (and sometimes I think worse) in Western countries.



    CGC
  • Reply 15 of 47
    cgc0202cgc0202 Posts: 624member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by desarc View Post


    People need to demand that Apple think different about slave labor.



    First, why just Apple? Are they unique among other multinational companies?



    If you are truly sincere: Would you impose that demand to begin with your own choices? Would you stop buying any product, that is likely produced under less than humane conditions?



    The harsh reality is that we make all these proclamations; but once we ponder how it affects us, we take exception to our own choices and actions.



    CGC
  • Reply 16 of 47
    zmaczmac Posts: 15member
    Foxconn suicide rate is slightly lower than average US suicide rate. Take a look at this Harvard study:

    http://j.mp/bMTRax
  • Reply 17 of 47
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cgc0202 View Post


    As one of the Westernized Asians, I "wholeheartedly agree" with the posters sentiments expressed in the related post:



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



    We Westerners or Westernized, especially us Americans, should stop buying products of all companies that manufacture or import products from other countries that:
    1. do not pay their workers decent mimimum wage

    2. do not pass laws to guarantee decent mimimum wage

    3. do not past laws to protect the health and welfare of workers

    4. that are under communist regime, or for America, countries that are under Socialist regime.

    5. especially China where draconians laws are enforced to control their population growth

    and other inhumane practices and policies (add your own pet grievance here).



    Further, I would support the solemn vow posted that "If given the choice between buying an iPhone (etc) made in a Chinese sweatshop" I would willingly pay " say £100***" more for every product, like the "iPhone (etc.)" ... if "made in a developed country".



    Really!



    "I'd buy the latter, every time. I'd like to be given the choice."



    Wouldn't you?



    CGC



    ***calculate the equivalent in your own currency



    Not saying that developing countries are not to be blamed but what about people and businesses in the developed countries?



    Who demands maximum profit margins in the name of "efficiency"?



    Who demands ever-raising stock prices?



    Who demands nice bond interests payments?



    Who demands big bonuses?



    Who demands low inflation rates?



    Who demands affordable... sorry, scratch that, cheap products?



    Who wants to have everything, convenience, and creature comfort in low price tags?



    No, this is not just Apple.
  • Reply 18 of 47
    zmaczmac Posts: 15member
    Foxconn worker's suicide rate is actually lower than avarage US population suicide rate!

    take a look at this (my previous link does not work)

    http://dhhs.nv.gov/Suicide/DOCS/Suic...t%20Public.pdf
  • Reply 19 of 47
    cgc0202cgc0202 Posts: 624member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by QuadESL63 View Post


    Not saying that developing countries are not to be blamed but what about people and businesses in the developed countries?



    Who demands maximum profit margins in the name of "efficiency"?



    Who demands ever-raising stock prices?



    Who demands nice bond interests payments?



    Who demands big bonuses?



    Who demands low inflation rates?



    Who demands affordable... sorry, scratch that, cheap products?



    Who wants to have everything, convenience, and creature comfort in low price tags?



    No, this is not just Apple.



    As one who has the bulk of my own IRAs and 403b's in mutual funds, we seldom think of the ramifications of our own choices.



    We are willing to spout all these proclamations, until they affect our own choices. And we justify our own actions.



    CGC
  • Reply 20 of 47
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,378member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cgc0202 View Post


    Further, I would support the solemn vow posted that "If given the choice between buying an iPhone (etc) made in a Chinese sweatshop" I would willingly pay " say £100***" more for every product, like the "iPhone (etc.)" ... if "made in a developed country".



    Really!



    "I'd buy the latter, every time. I'd like to be given the choice."



    Wouldn't you?



    That's easy enough to say, but in reality it doesn't work. People buy online to save a few dollars or sales taxes with no concern whatsoever for putting their local retailers out of busines or for depriving their localities of tax money that's used to employ teachers, the police, firefighters, etc.



    People have gotten so used to cheap electronics that they will never go back to paying more. Personally, I find it incredulous that a company can design something like a hard disk drive or a DVD player, build the machine tools, manufacture it, ship it around the world, distribute it, market it, have everyone in that chain supposedly make money and it sells for $49. It's true value is probably 10x that. Would you be willing to pay that?



    Trade unions in the U.S., especially those involved with clothing manufacturing have long pushed the "made in the USA" banner. But in the end, given the choice of paying more and keeping U.S. workers employed or paying less, my belief is that the majority will pay less. And with clothing as with electronics manufacturing, it's a rarity that anything is made in the USA anymore.



    Having said that, companies based in the U.S., such as Apple, should get together to enforce minimum requirements on companies such as Foxconn. If every U.S. company threatened to take their business away, Foxconn would have step up. Of course, prices might get a bit higher.



    The other approach would be for companies like Apple to no longer use companies like Foxconn and instead open their own factories in China or lease facilities, but run them themselves. I believe (but I'm not 100% sure) that Nikon, for example, owns its factories in Malaysia and China. The workers would be Apple's employees. Apple would still get the benefit of cheap labor, but Apple could control the circumstances under which they work.



    Foxconn itself is so big (400,000 employees! - that's even hard to imagine) that I'm sure if Apple wanted, they could lease part of their facilities and run it themselves.



    And I still wonder how much companies are really saving when you consider the costs of dealing with a Foxconn combined with the shipping costs and associated delays. And even if there's substantial cost savings today, will there be such savings ten years from now as the Chinese middle-class expands and demands improvements in wages and working conditions? Or will we then have to move to manufacturers in other third-world countries such as undeveloped parts of India and Africa?
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