Foxconn suicides

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The Foxconn Suicides were a spate of suicides linked to low pay at the so-called "Foxconn City" industrial park in Shenzhen, China, that occurred alongside several additional suicides at various other Foxconn-owned locations and facilities in Mainland China.[1] Within 2010, there were 18 attempted suicides by Foxconn (Chinese: 富士康) employees resulting in 14 deaths in the same year.[2][3][4] The series of suicides drew media attention, and employment practices at Foxconn—one of the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturers—were investigated by several of its customers, including Apple and Hewlett-Packard (HP).[5]

Events of Suicide[edit]

Pre-2010[edit]

While 2010 was a notable year for the company in numbers of suicides, preceding years saw suicides being reported as well.

English name Chinese name Sex Age Suicide attempt date Description Status
Mr. Hou Unknown; Family name: Male 19 18 Jun 2007 Hanged himself in a company bathroom.[6][7] Deceased
Sun Dan-yong 孙丹勇 Male 25 16 Jul 2009 Threw himself from an apartment building[8] after losing an iPhone prototype in his possession.[9] Prior to death, he claimed he was beaten and his residence searched by Foxconn employees.[9] Deceased

2010[edit]

An estimated 18 Foxconn employees attempted suicide in 2010,[2] with a minimum of 14 deaths.[2][3][4]

English name Chinese name Sex Age Suicide attempt date Description Status
Ma Xiang-qian 马向前[10] Male 19 23 Jan 2010 Threw himself from building[11] perhaps as a result of a family dispute[5] Deceased
Mr. Li Unknown; Family name: [10] Male 28[5] 11 Mar 2010 Threw himself from building[12] Unknown
Tian Yu 田玉[10] Female 17 17 Mar 2010 Threw herself from building[12] Paralyzed from waist down[2]
Mr. Lau Unknown; Family name: [10] Male 23 29 Mar 2010 Threw himself from building[12] Unknown
Rao Shu-qin 饶淑琴 Female 18[5] 6 Apr 2010 Threw herself from building[12] Survived[5]
Ms. Ning Unknown; Family name: Female 18 7 Apr 2010 Threw herself from building.[12] Deceased[5]
Lu Xin 卢新[10] Male 24 6 May 2010 Threw himself from building[12] Deceased[13]
Zhu Chen-ming 祝晨明[10] Female 24 11 May 2010 Threw herself from building[14] Deceased[5]
Liang Chao 梁超[10] Male 21 14 May 2010 Threw himself from building[15] Deceased[5]
Nan Gan 南刚[10] Male 21 21 May 2010 Threw himself from building[16] Deceased[5]
Li Hai 李海 Male 19 25 May 2010 Threw himself from building[17] Deceased[5]
Mr. He Unknown; Family name: [10] Male 23 26 May 2010 Threw himself from building[18] Unknown
Mr. Chen Unknown; Family name: [10] Male 25 27 May 2010 Suicide Deceased[10]
Mr. Liu Unknown; Family name: Male 18 20 Jul 2010 Threw himself from the sixth floor of a dormitory building[19][20] Deceased[20]
Unknown Unknown Male 23[21] 5 Nov 2010 Threw himself from building[22][23] Deceased[23]

2011[edit]

English name Chinese name Sex 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[24]
Unknown Unknown Male 20 26 May 2011 Threw himself from building. Died in Deyuan town, Chengdu (possibly in Pi County) Deceased[25]
Mr. Cai Unknown; Family name: 蔡 Male 21[26] July 2011[27] Threw himself from building at Shenzhen plant.[27] Deceased
Li Rongying Unknown Female 20 23 November 2011 Threw herself from building Deceased[28]

2012[edit]

English name Chinese name Sex Age Suicide attempt date Description Status
Unknown Unknown Male 23 14 June 2012 Threw himself from building Deceased[29]

2013[edit]

English name Chinese name Sex Age Suicide attempt date Description Status
Xu Lizhi 许立志 Male 24 24 April 2013 Threw himself from building Deceased[30]
Unknown Unknown Female 23 27 April 2013 Threw herself from building Deceased[30]

2016[edit]

Eva Dou of the Wall Street Journal reported the suicide of a 31-year old night shift worker at Foxconn's production building in Zhengzhou on 18 August 2016.[31]

Analysis[edit]

ABC News[32] and The Economist[33] both have done some simple comparison— although the number of workplace suicides at Foxconn is large in absolute terms, the suicide rate is actually lower when compared to the overall suicide rate of China[34] or the United States.[35] According to a 2011 Centre for Disease Control and Prevention report, the country has a high suicide rate with approximately 22.23 deaths per 100,000 persons.[36] In 2010, the worst year for workplace suicides at Foxconn with a total of 14 deaths, its employee count was a reported 930,000 people.[37]

Labor activists stated the suicides supported their assertion that numerous labor abuses take place at Foxconn.[38] Economic conditions external to the company also 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. If the above factors are true, it shows that there has been some inconsistency between Foxconn's labor condition and the newest progress in China's economy.[39]

However, one expert claimed that employees were treated comparatively well at Foxconn. Boy Lüthje, of Germany's Institute of Social Research, told the Economist that the company pays a minimum monthly wage of 900 yuan (US$130) as well as providing free recreational facilities, food, and lodging for employees at some of its factory complexes. Overtime, however, may be routinely demanded.[40]

Response[edit]

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 suggested poor treatment of workers in facilities that manufacture its products may include violations of labor laws, violations of Apple's own rules for suppliers, and child labor.[38] (Workers as young as 14 could legally work in China through special programs around the time this report was compiled.)[citation needed]

Apple committed to the implementation of changes following the suicides, but in late 2014 news reports of labor issues at another factory of a Chinese supplier also surfaced.[41]

Reports[edit]

The 2010 suicides prompted 20 Chinese universities to compile an 83-page report on Foxconn, which they described as a "labor 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,[42] discrimination of mainland Chinese workers by their Taiwanese coworkers,[43] and a lack of working relationships[44] were all presented as potential problems in the university report.

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.[45]

Crisis Management[edit]

During the first two and a half months, which included six of the fourteen completed suicides, Foxconn took a "no comment" approach to their business crisis.[46] Foxconn left their crisis situation vulnerable to media attacks by taking a "no comment" approach, which allowed the media to fill in their own information about the suicides.[47] Li and Xu made a statement, in their case study about the business's suicides, that, "Foxconn's series of employee suicides were severe events in the mind of the general public, and its 'no comment' strategy led to a more negative perception of its reputation and severe consequences."[46] After the sixth suicide, Liu Kun, a spokesperson for Foxconn, stated that they were handling the crisis.[46] He also started using a "denial strategy" to avoid any blame for the suicides and instead directed the fault at "the victims and societal problems."[46]

One of the ways Foxconn started handling the crisis was to require that employees sign a waiver stating that Foxconn would not be made liable if any individuals were to commit suicide.[48] This, however, caused more troubles for Foxconn; therefore, they eventually retracted the document. After they removed the waiver, they installed safety nettings around the facility to prevent future suicides.[48] Foxconn also implemented a pay raise from 950 yuan to 1200 yuan but they in turn increased their quota by twenty percent as well.[49] Lastly, Foxconn opened their doors to two-hundred journalists.[46] Foxconn informed the writers that they were taking extra steps for the future; which included safety nettings and more help hotlines for employees to be able to call.[46]

Foxconn[edit]

The chairman of Foxconn, Terry Gou, made the following statement at a press conference focused on the controversy: "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, the factory complex where the deaths occurred employed up to 300,000 people.[38][50]

In response to the suicides, Foxconn substantially increased wages for its Shenzhen factory workforce,[51] installed suicide-prevention netting,[52] brought in Buddhist monks to conduct prayer sessions,[42] and asked employees to sign no-suicide pledges.[53] Workers were also required 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.[54]

Protests[edit]

In May 2010, 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".[50] 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.[38]

The family of Ma Xianqian, one of the dead workers, protested outside the Foxconn factory. On 28 May 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."[55]

8 June 2010, the date of Foxconn’s Annual General Meeting, saw student protesters from an anti-Foxconn Hong Kong non-profit, Hong Kong labor unions, and rights groups demonstrated outside a Hong Kong Apple store.[55]

A small group of young organizers picketed at an Apple store in San Francisco on 17 June 2010. The protesters carried placards showing the names and ages of the dead workers.[55]

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 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 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. ^ "[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. 
  7. ^ "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. 
  8. ^ He, Huifeng (28 July 2009). "Payout over man's iPhone suicide". South China Morning Post. 
  9. ^ a b IPhone Maker in China Is Under Fire After a Suicide nytimes.com, 26 July 2009
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Eastweek magazine. Vol 334. 6 June 2010 issue. pg 13.
  11. ^ Sina.com. "Sina.com." 富士康馬向前系墜亡 警方不予立案. Retrieved on 2010-10-10.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Behind the shiny screen ZDNet.com.au, 14 December 2010
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Anhuinews.com. "Anhuinews.com." 家屬稱梁超是“被自殺”. Retrieved on 2010-10-10.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ Yahoo.com. "Yahoo.com Archived 30 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine.." 富士康第12跳確認為自殺. Retrieved on 2010-10-10.
  19. ^ "Another Foxconn worker falls to death in China". BBC News. 20 July 2010. 
  20. ^ a b "Worker Death Tally Rises at Foxconn China". ABC News. 21 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-21. 
  21. ^ Zhuang, Pinghui (6 November 2010). "Another suicide as Foxconn faces more flak". South China Morning Post. 
  22. ^ Pomfret, James (5 November 2010). "Foxconn worker plunges to death at China plant: report". Reuters. 
  23. ^ a b "Foxconn Suicide Returns, Another Foxconn Employee Falls to Death (updated with video!)". 
  24. ^ Chang, Chris (13 January 2011). "New Suicide From Foxconn, Worker Jumped Because of Insult". M.I.C. Gadget. Retrieved 10 June 2012. 
  25. ^ Huang, Cary (27 May 2011). "Foxconn worker in Chengdu suicide". South China Morning Post. Hong Kong. p. 6. 
  26. ^ "Foxconn employee jumps to his death in Shenzhen". Taipei Times. 29 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-05. 
  27. ^ a b "Cna English News". Focustaiwan.tw. 19 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-05. 
  28. ^ "Worker commits suicide at Foxconn plant". China Daily. 25 November 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-25. 
  29. ^ Jim, Clare (14 Jun 2012). "Foxconn says plant worker jumps from apartment". reuters.com. Thompson Reuters. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  30. ^ a b http://english.sina.com/china/p/2013/0501/587095.html
  31. ^ Latest Foxconn Worker Deaths Build Case for Apple to Move Operations from China, accessed 28 August 2016
  32. ^ A Trip to The iFactory: 'Nightline' Gets an Unprecedented Glimpse Inside Apple's Chinese Core, ABC News, February 20, 2012, page 3
  33. ^ Suicides at Foxconn, The Economist, May 27, 2010
  34. ^ "Suicides at Foxconn: Light and Death". The Economist. 27 May 2010. Retrieved 2012-01-07. 
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  36. ^ "China's suicide rate 'among highest in world'". AFP. Archived from the original on 26 September 2013. 
  37. ^ "Foxcon Plans To Increase China Workforce to 1.3 Million". Focus Taiwan News Channel. 19 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-19. 
  38. ^ 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. 
  39. ^ For other 2010 strikes, see "Strikes signal end to cheap labor". China Daily. 3 June 2010. Archived from the original on 6 June 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2010. 
  40. ^ "Don't Mean To Be Rude, But Suicide Rate at Apple's iPad-Maker Foxconn Is Lower Than All 50 U.S. States". Business Insider. 26 May 2010. Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  41. ^ "Apple under fire again for working conditions at Chinese factories". The Guardian. 19 December 2014. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  42. ^ a b "Suicides at Foxconn Light and death". The Economist. The Economist Newspaper Limited. 27 May 2010. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  43. ^ 富士康管治双重标准 员工有冤上诉无门
  44. ^ Moore, Malcolm (16 May 2010). "What has triggered the suicide cluster at Foxconn? – Telegraph Blogs". London: Blogs.telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-07-09. 
  45. ^ 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. 
  46. ^ a b c d e f Li, W; Xu, K (1 October 2013). "An Ethical Stakeholder Approach to Crisis Communication: A Case Study of Foxconn's 2010 Employee Suicide Crisis". Journal of Business Ethics. 117: 371–386. 
  47. ^ Carroll, Archie; Buchholtz, Ann (2012). Business and Society. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning. p. 168. 
  48. ^ a b Heffernan, Margaret (August 7, 2013). "What Happened After the Foxconn Suicides". CBS. 
  49. ^ Ngai, Pun (June 29, 2012). "Global Capital, the State, and Chinese Workers: The Foxconn Experience". Modern China: 383–410. 
  50. ^ a b Malcolm Moore (25 May 2010). "Protest at Chinese iPad maker Foxconn after 11th suicide attempt this year". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  51. ^ Foxconn suspends operation at a facility in India reuters.com, Mon 26 Jul 2010
  52. ^ Foxconn Rallies Workers, Leaves Suicide Nets in Place (Updated) wired.com's Epicenter blog, 18 August 2010
  53. ^ "Chinese Factory asks for 'no suicide' vow". MSNBC. 26 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-26. 
  54. ^ 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. 
  55. ^ 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. 

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