Recent events at Foxconn’s facilities in China have brought a huge amount of scrutiny on the company. It appears that the workers at the Foxconn facility have a disturbing tendency to jump off tall ledges. The shit first started hitting the fans (i.e western news outlets first started to care) last year, when one suicide was allegedly linked to a Foxconn worker losing a prototype Apple product. Since then suicides have continued, prompting Chinese reporter Liu Zhiyi to go undercover and see exactly what kind of of life is causing people to see death as the only option.
The translated article can be found on Engadget, and has been followed up today with an editorial by Engadget writer Laura June. The findings of undercover journalist Liu Zhiyi did not reveal any blatant abuses by Foxconn – they’re not sitting behind workers with whips or anything so brutal – but rather paints the picture of a workforce which is driven into a dead in by their situation.
They’re poor, uneducated workers. They lack the money to fund higher education, and for the most part they don’t seem to have much confidence that they would succeed if they were given better schooling. They’re paid between $100 and $200 a month building products which cost many times that amount to purchase. Chances are good that you own a product that these workers have made, as the Foxconn plant has been responsible for the production of iPads, iPhones and numerous laptops over the years (remember, most laptop brands don’t actually make their own laptops, they set up a contract with a production company like Foxconn instead).
But the most depressing part of the story is the fact that, if you did not buy these products that these workers made, they would be in an even worse situation. There is simply nothing that anyone can do, barring some kind of full-scale workforce education program created by the Chinese. Worse, Gizmodo today reported that another worked committed suicide (be warned, there is a graphic picture in the report).