Foxconn Suicide Threats Stir Debate

Posted January 16th, 2012 at 9:06 am (UTC+0)
1 comment
This month, the Taiwanese-owned manufacturing factory Foxconn (富士康) was in the news again. At one of the company’s factories in Wuhan, more than  100 workers amassed on the roof and threatened suicide to protest poor working conditions.

The corporation, responsible for manufacturing popular products such as the Apple (苹果) iPhone and the Amazon Kindle,  saw a number of suicides in 2010 and has been criticized for the working conditions in some of its factories.

The dispute was resolved without any deaths this time, but the issue hasn’t gone unnoticed on the Internet.  intouchZhengJun, the managing editor of That’s Beijing wrote:

It’s said that in Vietnam there are 10 times as many Shenzhen Foxconn factories. Three years ago the foreign-invested manufacturing companies started to move their factories out of China, this will climax in 2012. They will take away their equipment and order forms, leaving polluted water and air behind them, as well as a bunch of workers who don’t have the knowledge or the technology, but whose wages have raised to 3,000RMB. Looks like Chinese enterprises will have to take over.

The Sina microblog user CapitalSiyueSiRi had a positive view point. He argues that Foxconn is actually the kind of company that, given the opportunity, could do well on the market:

Foxconn is a platform for manufacturing, it’s not as simple as contract manufacturing.  There are some ordinary products, if unaffected by intelletual copyright, then the products at Foxconn can rank number three on the market if it were sold.

It’s surprising the number of people who work at Foxconn, at their different factories, be it Tianjin (天津) or Shenzhen (深圳). Gao Zaohui, who works in the Tianjin branch, talks about standing for work day after day, and not liking how hard the work is:

Guo Zaohuai:

This is the seventh day working for Foxconn: stood all day again today, I reckon I’ll be standing every day from now on. I’ll be very tired. I talk with my work colleague next to me to get through the day. I got to know someone who’s from the same place as me, we can probably take the train home together for Chinese New Year.

In the past, high end electronics such as the products produced by Foxconn were almost exclusively made for sale in the U.S., Japan and other wealthy nations. But now, many of the products being assembled in China are increasingly being sold in China.

As an example, the Apple 4s just debuted on the mainland and caused scuffles in its flagship store in Beijing. There are even rumors that the iPad3 will be on sale in China soon, straight from the factory line.

As Chinese people buy more and more of the items they make, will working conditions change?

One response to “Foxconn Suicide Threats Stir Debate”

  1. […] and where the working conditions are so horrible that, recently, over 100 people said “give us our pay or we’re gonna kill ourselves.”  Amazon uses them to make the Kindle as well . . […]

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