Thursday, June 3, 2010

Modern Day Technology Slaves

A dozen labor activists throw paper money in front of paper figures representing Chinese employees of Foxconn Technology Group recently died in China outside the Foxconn office in Hong Kong Tuesday.
A dozen labour activists throw paper money in front of paper figures representing Chinese employees of Foxconn Technology Group recently died in China outside the Foxconn office in Hong Kong Tuesday.
Upon reading the 8th highest-profile death related to iPhone last July, it stirred my interest to follow Foxconn news.

Sun Danyong, 25, jumped to his death after being interrogated over a missing iPhone prototype. 
Sun was responsible for sending the device to U.S.-based Apple Inc.
Local police said they were taking the case seriously and had sent a team to look into the death.

About a dozen labour activists protested at Foxconn offices in Hong Kong.
They held signs that said, "Foxconn lacks a conscience" and "Suicide is no accident."
The protesters from the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions burned cardboard cutouts resembling iPhones.


The latest death, the 10th suicide, at technology firm Foxconn in Shenzhen was Nan Gang, a 21-year-old man, working in the logistic department, from Hubei province.
He jumped from the top of a 4-storey factory building in Foxconn's industrial complex in Longhua township at 4.37 am on Friday after finishing the night shift at 4am.
A migrant from central Hubei province, he landed on his head and died at the scene.

Beginning this year, Rong Bo, leapt off a building and killed himself on Jan. 8 at a Foxconn plant.
Another, Li Hai, 19, after working at the plant for only 42 days, died after jumping off the company's dormitory building.

Recent suicides included a 24-year-old male factory worker surnamed Lu.
He jumped from a building inside the factory.

A girl, aged 16, was found dead on her dormitory bed.

6 men and 2 women had died.
Another 2 female employees were seriously injured.

The dead were all young migrant workers, 16 to 27 years of age, among the millions who leave the poor hinterlands of China for the boom towns of the south and east coastal areas.
They yearned work and high wages.

Family of Yan Li, a 27-year-old engineer, claimed that Yan Li was overwork.
The claim was denied by the company.
The family alleged that Yan Li, had been working the night shift for more than a month straight.
Sometimes working 24 hours non-stop.
If what the family said is true, then it could be the 11th life taken.

He died suddenly at his home early on May 27.
But Taiwan contract electronics maker Hon Hai Precision Industry, the Foxconn owner said, it did not see the death as work-related after reviewing the matter.
There's no speculation to support the statement the specific cause of death.

The jumping incidents at Foxconn Technology Group, which makes iPhones and iPads, is the world's largest contract maker of electronics, such as the iPod, Dell computers and Nokia phones, show signs of the Werther effect - a series of copycat suicides after a widely publicised case - with the number of suicides increasing proportionally to the coverage.

It was said that employees, burdened with stress and psychological problems, simply copied deaths widely covered by the media.

A Chinese worker takes a closer look at a circuit board at Taiwanese owned Foxconn factory in Shenzhen
A Chinese worker takes a closer look at a circuit board at Taiwanese owned Foxconn factory in Shenzhen
Foxconn is a big company with its own campus.
The company is as large as a medium-sized city.

It runs massive manufacturing complexes where workers churn out products for the world's leading computer and phone companies in round-the-clock shifts.
It had a high turnover, with nearly half the staff quitting every year.

Out of the 800,000 Foxconn employees in China, 420,000 are based in Shenzhen, where they work different shifts.
These employees live in a massive factory complex.
They share a dorm with staff doing other shifts, as they belong to different units.

Scores of workers is managed by only a supervisor.
He may not be able to name all his subordinates, let alone be aware of their mental states.
Most are under 30 and life in the company's factories can be lonely.
They need the feeling of a family to handle the severe working pressure. 
The company cannot make these young people be just money-making machines.

Under this work mode, whenever an employee has difficulties, mental problems or is considering suicide, he or she cannot get effective help from their co-workers.

Adjust in the management is needed to ensure its employees have a social support network.
It also has to find a way to identify potential suicides, as well as those with psychological problems, in order to take effective measures to help them.

The number of suicide deaths have raised more questions about working conditions at Foxconn's massive complex.
Labour activists alleged it has a long history of mistreatment of workers.

Campaign group China Labour Watch called for an overhaul of conditions for Foxconn's production line workers, after investigation prompted by previous deaths.

The string of suicides back up their long-standing allegations that workers toil in terrible conditions.
They claim shifts are long.
It recorded working days up to 12 hours.
Production line employees sometimes going for weeks without a  day off.
The assembly line moves too fast.
Managers enforce military-style discipline on the work force.

Workers, total about 300,000, are pushed too hard.
They toiled under tremendous pressure, facing harsh discipline for making mistakes - Quoting workers in a computer assembly department as saying, many attributed recent deaths to the stress they are all under.

They are extremely tired, with tremendous pressure.


Mr. Stupid said...

This is sad. It must be a hard place to work at. 24 hours without a break can put a lot of stress physically, but more mentally.
About Sun, maybe he was just innocent.

Have a good day!:)

Ummie said...

Sun - Death will put a full-stop to speculations.

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