Foxconn suicides

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The Foxconn suicides occurred between January and November 2010 at the Foxconn City industrial park in Longhua, Shenzhen, China.[1] The 18[2] attempted suicides by Foxconn (Chinese: 富士康) employees resulted in 14 deaths—the company was the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer at the time.[2][3][4] The suicides drew media attention, and employment practices at Foxconn were investigated by several of its customers, including Apple and Hewlett-Packard (HP).[5] In addition to its business ties with Apple and HP, Foxconn is a major manufacturer that has also served Dell, Motorola, Nintendo, Nokia, and Sony.[5]

Response[edit]

Protests[edit]

On May 25, 2014, the Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) group held a protest in the lobby of Foxconn's Hong Kong headquarters. Around 25 protestors laid mannequins to rest and conducted funeral rites, while a spokesperson informed the media and onlookers: "We are staging the protest because of the high death rate [at Foxconn], with an abnormal number of workers committing suicide in the past five months".[6] Activists from the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions were also present and held signs that read: "Foxconn lacks a conscience" and "Suicide is no accident." They also burned cardboard cutouts resembling iPhones.[7]

The family of Ma Xianqian, one of the dead workers, protested outside the Foxconn factory. On May 28, 2010, demonstrators protested outside Hon Hai’s Taipei headquarters laying flowers for those who had died at the Foxconn plant. Taiwan unions and labor activists were also present at the Taipei protest, and displayed banners that displayed Chinese text that translate into English as: "For wealth and power—physical and mental health spent, hopes lost" and "For profit of the brand—youth spent, dreams shattered."[8]

June 8, 2010, the date of Foxconn’s Annual General Meeting, was chosen as the Global Day of Remembrance for Foxconn Victims. On the day, student protestors from SACOM, Hong Kong labor unions, and rights groups demonstrated outside a Hong Kong Apple store.[8]

A picket of 13 young organizers was held at an Apple store in San Francisco, U.S., on June 17, 2010. The protestors carried placards showing the names and ages of 12 of the 13 dead workers, as well as an unnamed placard for the unnamed 13th. A moment of silence was enacted for each of those who had committed suicide, and a "DeathPad" placard read "Workers want justice."[8]

Foxconn[edit]

The chairman of Foxconn, a subsidiary of Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Company, Terry Gou told reporters on May 24, 2014, after the 10th death of 2010: "We are certainly not running a sweatshop. We are confident we'll be able to stabilize the situation soon. A manufacturing team of 800,000 people is very difficult to manage." At the time of the company's press conference on May 26, 2014, in relation to the deaths, Foxconn was the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer, the factory in which the deaths occurred employed around 300,000 people, 15,000 people employees quit on a monthly basis, and Hon Hai Precision registered net profits of 18 billion new Taiwan dollars (NTD) for the first quarter of 2010.[7][6]

In response to the suicides, Foxconn substantially increased wages for its Shenzhen factory workforce,[9] installed suicide-prevention netting,[10] brought in Buddhist monks to conduct prayer sessions inside the factory,[11] and asked employees to sign no-suicide pledges.[12] Workers were also forced to sign a legally binding document guaranteeing that they and their descendants would not sue the company as a result of unexpected death, self-injury, or suicide.[13]

Foxconn clients[edit]

Apple issued a public statement about the suicides, and company spokesperson Steven Dowling said: "[Apple is] saddened and upset by the recent suicides at Foxconn ... A team from Apple is independently evaluating the steps they are taking to address these tragic events and we will continue our ongoing inspections of the facilities where our products are made." The statement was released after the results from the company's probe into its suppliers' labor practices were published in early 2010. Foxconn was not specifically named in the report, but Apple identified a series of serious labor violations of labor laws, including Apple's own rules, and some child labor existed in a number of factories.[7]

Apple committed to the implementation of changes following the suicides, but was again in the media in December 2014 for labor issues at another factory os a Chinese supplier. On this occasion, a reporter said that Apple was continuing to "repeatedly" break the promises made after Foxconn in 2010.[14]

Reports[edit]

The 2010 suicides prompted 20 Chinese universities to compile an 83-page report on Foxconn, which they described as a "labour camp." Interviews of 1,800 Foxconn workers at 12 factories found evidence of illegal overtime and failure to report accidents. The report also criticized Foxconn's management style, which it called inhumane and abusive.[3][3] Additionally, long working hours,[11] discrimination of mainland Chinese workers by their Taiwanese coworkers,[15] and a lack of working relationships[16] were all presented as potential problems in the university report.

SACOM also produced a report on Foxconn employee mistreatment at the end of 2010.[17]

A 2012 audit of Foxconn performed by the Fair Labor Association, at the request of Apple Inc., suggested that workplace accidents might be commonplace, and that workers may consider overtime pay insufficient.[18]

Analysis[edit]

Labor activists said to the media that the suicides occurred after numerous allegations of labor abuses were raised over a protracted period of time. Claims in the reports included excessive shifts, an overly fast assembly line, and a military-style discipline applied by management upon the employees.[7] Geoffrey Crothall, from a Hong Kong labor rights organization, shared his belief that the Foxconn inidents were reperesentative of a much larger issue with the Telegraph publication in May 2010:

It is not just Foxconn, it is the whole factory system. Obviously the focus is now on Foxconn and every new death will be reported, but there are other suicides in other factories and the owners hush it up and pay the families quietly and no one will ever know about it.[6]

Crothall also called the company's response superficial, and recommended a wage rise of 100%, as the "workers are coming to Foxconn not just to survive, but to make their lives better."[6]

The suicide rate at Foxconn during 2010 remained lower than that of the general Chinese population at the time,[19] as well as all 50 states of the United States (U.S.).[20] Additionally, economic conditions external to the company might have been influential—during the same year, several major strike actions at other high-profile manufacturers occurred in China, and the Lewisian turning-point is a macro-economic factor that might provide context for the events.[21]

One expert claimed that employees were treated comparatively well at Foxconn. Boy Lüthje, of Germany's Institute of Social Research, told the Economist publication that the company pays the minimum monthly wage of 900 yuan (US$130), food and accommodation are free, and free recreational facilities are also accessible. However, the publication noted that overtime, in excess of the 36 hours a month allowed by Chinese law, was routinely demanded from employees.[11]

Foxconn suicides[edit]

Although the number of workplace suicides at the company in 2010 was large in absolute terms, the rate is low when compared to the rest of China.[19] (However, the country has a high suicide rate with over 20 deaths per 100,000 persons.[22]) In 2010, the worst year for workplace suicides at Foxconn with a total of 14 deaths, the total employee count was a reported 930,000 people.[23]

Pre-2010[edit]

While 2010 was a remarkable year for the company in terms of the suicide rate, employee suicides have occurred at Foxcomm in other years as well.

English name Chinese name Gender Age Suicide attempt date Description Status
Mr. Hou Unknown; Family name: Male 19 18 Jun 2007 Hanged himself in a company bathroom.[24][25] Deceased
Sun Dan-yong 孙丹勇 Male 25 16 Jul 2009 Fell from apartment building[26] after losing an iPhone prototype in his possession.[27] Prior to death, he claimed he was beaten and his residence searched by Foxconn employees.[27] Deceased

2010[edit]

An estimated eighteen Foxconn employees attempted suicide in 2010,[2] with a minimum of fourteen deaths.[2][3][4]

English name Chinese name Gender Age Suicide attempt date Description Status
Ma Xiang-qian 马向前[28] Male 19 23 Jan 2010 Fell from building[29] perhaps as a result of a family dispute[5] Deceased
Mr. Li Unknown; Family name: [28] Male 28[5] 11 Mar 2010 Fell from building[30] Unknown
Tian Yu 田玉[28] Female 17 17 Mar 2010 Fell from building[30] Paralyzed from waist down[2]
Mr. Lau Unknown; Family name: [28] Male 23 29 Mar 2010 Fell from building[30] Unknown
Rao Shu-qin 饶淑琴 Female 18[5] 6 Apr 2010 Fell from building[30] Survived[5]
Ms. Ning Unknown; Family name: Female 18 7 Apr 2010 Fell from building.[30] Deceased[5]
Lu Xin 卢新[28] Male 24 6 May 2010 Fell from building[30] Deceased[31]
Zhu Chen-ming 祝晨明[28] Female 24 11 May 2010 Fell from building[32] Deceased[5]
Liang Chao 梁超[28] Male 21 14 May 2010 Fell from building[33] Deceased[5]
Nan Gan 南刚[28] Male 21 21 May 2010 Fell from building[34] Deceased[5]
Li Hai 李海 Male 19 25 May 2010 Fell from building[35] Deceased[5]
Mr. He Unknown; Family name: [28] Male 23 26 May 2010 Fell from building[36] Unknown
Mr. Chen Unknown; Family name: [28] Male 25 27 May 2010 Suicide Deceased[28]
Mr. Liu Unknown; Family name: Male 18 20 Jul 2010 Fell from the sixth floor of a dormitory building[37][38] Deceased[38]
Unknown Unknown Male 23[39] 5 Nov 2010 Fell from building[40][41] Deceased[41]

2011[edit]

English name Chinese name Gender Age Suicide attempt date Description Status
Wang Ling Unknown Female 25 7 Jan 2011 Jumped from building after being sent to a psychiatric hospital Deceased[42]
Unknown Unknown Male 20 26 May 2011 Fell from building. Died in Deyuan town, Chengdu (possibly in Pi County) Deceased[43]
Mr. Cai Unknown; Family name: 蔡 Male 21[44] July 2011[45] Fell from building at Shenzhen plant.[45] Deceased
Li Rongying Unknown Female 20 23 November 2011 Fell from building Deceased[46]

2012[edit]

English name Chinese name Gender Age Suicide attempt date Description Status
Unknown Unknown Male 23 14 June 2012 Fell from building Deceased[47]

2013[edit]

English name Chinese name Gender Age Suicide attempt date Description Status
Unknown Unknown Male 24 24 April 2013 Jumped from dormitory Deceased[48]
Unknown Unknown Female 23 27 April 2013 Jumped from dormitory Deceased[48]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Paul Mozur (19 December 2012). "Life Inside Foxconn’s Facility in Shenzhen". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Lau, Mimi (15 December 2010). "Struggle for Foxconn girl who wanted to die". South China Morning Post (Wuhan, Hubei). 
  3. ^ a b c d Tam, Fiona (11 October 2010). "Foxconn factories are labour camps: report". South China Morning Post. 
  4. ^ a b Pomfret, James (5 Nov 2010). "Foxconn worker plunges to death at China plant: report". Reuters. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Jason Dean (27 May 2010). "Apple, H-P to Examine Asian Supplier After String of Deaths at Factory". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 29 May 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c d Malcolm Moore (25 May 2010). "Protest at Chinese iPad maker Foxconn after 11th suicide attempt this year". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d William Foreman (26 May 2010). "Tech: Apple Supplier Foxconn Suffers 10th Death This Year, Asks Workers To Sign Anti-Suicide Pledge". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c Jenny Chan, Ngai Pun. "Suicide as Protest for the New Generation of Chinese Migrant Workers: Foxconn, Global Capital, and the State". The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus. The Asia-Pacific Journal. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  9. ^ Foxconn suspends operation at a facility in India reuters.com, Mon 26 Jul, 2010
  10. ^ Foxconn Rallies Workers, Leaves Suicide Nets in Place (Updated) wired.com's Epicenter blog, 18 August 2010
  11. ^ a b c "Suicides at Foxconn Light and death". The Economist. The Economist Newspaper Limited. 27 May 2010. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  12. ^ "Chinese Factory asks for 'no suicide' vow". MSNBC. 26 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-26. 
  13. ^ Malone, Andrew; Jones, Richard (6 December 2010). "Revealed: Inside the Chinese Suicide Sweatshop Where Workers Toil in 34-Hour Shifts To Make Your iPod". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 2012-02-07. 
  14. ^ "Apple under fire again for working conditions at Chinese factories". The Guardian. 19 December 2014. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  15. ^ 富士康管治双重标准 员工有冤上诉无门
  16. ^ Moore, Malcolm (16 May 2010). "What has triggered the suicide cluster at Foxconn? – Telegraph Blogs". London: Blogs.telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-07-09. 
  17. ^ Sacom.hk. "Sacom.hk." Workers as Machines: Military Management in Foxconn. Retrieved on 2010-12-18.
  18. ^ Williams, Matt (29 March 2012). "Foxconn audit finds illegal overtime and unpaid wages at Apple factory". guardian.co.uk (Guardian News and Media Ltd). Retrieved 2012-05-29. 
  19. ^ a b "Suicides at Foxconn: Light and Death". The Economist. 27 May 2010. Retrieved 2012-01-07. 
  20. ^ "Foxconn suicide rate is lower than in the US, says Apple's Steve Jobs". The Daily Telegraph. 2 June 2010. Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  21. ^ For other 2010 strikes, see "Strikes signal end to cheap labor". China Daily. 3 June 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2010. 
  22. ^ "China's suicide rate 'among highest in world'". AFP. 9 September 2011. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  23. ^ "Foxcon Plans To Increase China Workforce to 1.3 Million". Focus Taiwan News Channel. 19 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-19. 
  24. ^ "[血债二]2007年6月18日 富士康一名女工在厕所上吊自杀-百度和讯财经网". Finance.baidu.com. Retrieved 2010-05-30. 
  25. ^ "富士康员工意外事件频发_新民网_为民分忧 与民同乐". News.xinmin.cn. Retrieved 2010-05-30. 
  26. ^ He, Huifeng (28 July 2009). "Payout over man's iPhone suicide". South China Morning Post. 
  27. ^ a b IPhone Maker in China Is Under Fire After a Suicide nytimes.com, 26 July 2009
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Eastweek magazine. Vol 334. 6 June 2010 issue. pg 13.
  29. ^ Sina.com. "Sina.com." 富士康馬向前系墜亡 警方不予立案. Retrieved on 2010-10-10.
  30. ^ a b c d e f Wenweipo.com. "Wenweipo.com." 深陷「跳樓門」富士康首度檢討. Retrieved on 2010-10-10.
  31. ^ Behind the shiny screen ZDNet.com.au, 14 December 2010
  32. ^ Nownews.com. "Nownews.com." 富士康重點培訓幹部 盧新無法忘情音樂選擇自殺. Retrieved on 2010-10-10.
  33. ^ Anhuinews.com. "Anhuinews.com." 家屬稱梁超是“被自殺”. Retrieved on 2010-10-10.
  34. ^ Wenweipo.com. "Wenweipo.com." 富士康員工最怕領導罵 曾被告知跳樓賠10萬. Retrieved on 2010-10-10.
  35. ^ Chinanews.com.cn. "Chinanews.com.cn." 富士康發生今年“第11跳” 死者宿舍內留下遺書. Retrieved on 2010-10-10.
  36. ^ Yahoo.com. "Yahoo.com." 富士康第12跳確認為自殺. Retrieved on 2010-10-10.
  37. ^ "Another Foxconn worker falls to death in China". BBC News. 20 July 2010. 
  38. ^ a b "Worker Death Tally Rises at Foxconn China". ABC News. 21 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-21. 
  39. ^ Zhuang, Pinghui (6 November 2010). "Another suicide as Foxconn faces more flak". South China Morning Post. 
  40. ^ Pomfret, James (5 November 2010). "Foxconn worker plunges to death at China plant: report". Reuters. 
  41. ^ a b "Foxconn Suicide Returns, Another Foxconn Employee Falls to Death (updated with video!)". 
  42. ^ Chang, Chris (13 January 2011). "New Suicide From Foxconn, Worker Jumped Because of Insult". M.I.C. Gadget. Retrieved 10 June 2012. 
  43. ^ Huang, Cary (27 May 2011). "Foxconn worker in Chengdu suicide". South China Morning Post (Hong Kong). p. 6. 
  44. ^ "Foxconn employee jumps to his death in Shenzhen". Taipei Times. 29 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-05. 
  45. ^ a b "Cna English News". Focustaiwan.tw. 19 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-05. 
  46. ^ "Worker commits suicide at Foxconn plant". China Daily. 25 November 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-25. 
  47. ^ Jim, Clare (14 Jun 2012). "Foxconn says plant worker jumps from apartment". reuters.com. Thompson Reuters. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  48. ^ a b http://english.sina.com/china/p/2013/0501/587095.html

External links[edit]