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  • Suicide Rash May Prompt Major Pay Hike for iPhone Makers



    In recent weeks on MMi, we've covered the unfortunate rash of suicides that have plagued a Shenzhen factory of iPhone manufacturer Foxconn. So far in 2010, at least ten individuals have died at the manufacturing complex referenced. As a a result of those deaths - half of which occurred this month - there have been multiple inquiries about working conditions at the factory as well as substandard wages - factors that may have contributed to the wave of tragic suicides.

    As a result of harsh public criticisms and ongoing investigations, there are reports this weekend that a 20% pay raise may come to iPhone makers in Shenzhen, where the minimum monthly wage is between $132 and $146. The Irish Times reports that Foxconn employees are paid a base salary of $132, that's according to data collected by China Labor Watch, a New York-based outfit that champions civil and workers rights in China. To date, those overseeing the working conditions at the factory are bitterly denying that the environment is similar to that of a “sweatshop.”

    When news of the suicides first became public, Apple issued a statement noting that “we require that our suppliers treat all workers with dignity and respect.”

    Although it appears to the outside world that extremely harsh working conditions and low pay were all but certainly major contributing factors to the suicides, Communist Party officials and other local labor union officials are still pouring over information gleaned from their May 26th on-site investigation at the factory. For now, no municipal government officials are blaming wage and working conditions on the the deaths.

    Image via New York Daily News
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Suicide Rash May Prompt Major Pay Hike for iPhone Makers started by Michael Essany View original post
    Comments 23 Comments
    1. confucious's Avatar
      confucious -
      The Suicide rate in China is, I believe, about 13 per 100,000
      The Foxcon complex employs 3-400,000 people so you're looking at 39 - 52 deaths a year if they meet the average for China.
      How is 10 deaths in 5 months excessive?
      1 death is 1 too many but this story does seem to be exaggerating the problem somewhat.
    1. Faxmonkey's Avatar
      Faxmonkey -
      Quote Originally Posted by confucious View Post
      The Suicide rate in China is, I believe, about 13 per 100,000
      The Foxcon complex employs 3-400,000 people so you're looking at 39 - 52 deaths a year if they meet the average for China.
      How is 10 deaths in 5 months excessive?
      1 death is 1 too many but this story does seem to be exaggerating the problem somewhat.
      Foxconn only employs 300k in China, they employ another 100k elsewhere. Since they started counting they're up to 16 suicides and that wasn't long ago. We had almost like 1 more per day over the last week, if you weren't paying attention. So way more than 10 in 5 months . . .

      But moreover, the people who tend to kill themselves in don't tend to be young 20 somethings who are gainfully employed with families which pretty much all these people are. If you look at just these people outside of the sphere of Foxconn, they'd be at VERY low risk for suicide.

      There's clearly an issue. I know you want to just use your iPad and not think of it as something that may have contributed to someone elses unhappiness, but sometimes it's necessary to consider unpleasant realities.

      Conditions and pay aren't great anywhere in China, and that's why we get to enjoy cheap chinese made electronics. Foxconn, in particular, is just a victim of their own success. They have so many major deals going that they h ave to keep all their factories running 24 hours a day, and that means they need all their workers to work massive amounts of overtime. They do pay them for this overtime work, but they *require* it. Work overtime or go find another job. Many did go find other jobs, which makes the problem even worse. So now they're hiring nay shmuck with a pulse as long as they're willing to sign a paper saying they'll work 100 hours a week and these people's lives are basically "wake up, work, sleep" with no time for *anything* else.

      So why do they do it? Their families need the money. But come to find out, if an employee commits suicide, their family is given some money as compensation. Given that the money is significant and these people's lives has boiled down to *nothing* but work, it's not surprising that many are starting to take the easy way out and that's why we hear about another suicide practically *every* day of the last week. Sixteen was the last number I heard, but it was only 7 a couple weeks ago, so the rate is very, very high.
    1. zozodouce's Avatar
      zozodouce -
      Thanks for removing this idio post lol
    1. lolcats1's Avatar
      lolcats1 -
      use gold bond
    1. unison999's Avatar
      unison999 -
      If speaking from the Foxconn side raising wages is may cause more "problems", maybe even peer pressure suicide to get more raises.
      What should happen is improve living condition of the workers.
      Put a limit on how much overtime one can take per week.
      Add a psychologist for workers to see.

      When people wants overtime and now is limited, maybe this would help them watch their fellow man and help fellow them. Psychologist would be on site for people who wants help. Improved living conditions with some entertainment so people can relieve some stress.
    1. whereswaldo's Avatar
      whereswaldo -
      People seem surprised that it's a sweatshop
    1. extremzocker's Avatar
      extremzocker -
      ^ we should make our charity idea real and show the foxconn workers the zeal thread. we could save thousands!
    1. unison999's Avatar
      unison999 -
      People use Sweat Shop too often.
      According to Los Angeles Times the workers are paid higher wages than the minimum wage in the area, so they are within the laws of the state. People seem to use their U.S. cost of living standard to evaluate a country on the other side of the world.
      Just to show you how it is, I recently visit Taiwan in early May (considered a country with WAY higher standard of living than ShenZhen). Average cost of a boxed lunch is $2 U.S., and if you want to eat better local food would cost you close to $6 U.S. Hell even McDonald's in Taiwan right now have $3 U.S. for triple cheese burger value meal. A bus ride is 50 cents for adults. So the cost of living is significantly lower than most places in U.S., therefore the cheaper cost of living will reflect on the wages.

      This is why U.S. Citizen who goes to China will get lower pay but live at a higher standard of living compared to what they get in U.S doing similar work.
    1. awesomeSlayer's Avatar
      awesomeSlayer -
      Suicidal rate wouldn't be so high in China if they didn't have poor working conditions and rights.
    1. iPhone3G[S]'s Avatar
      iPhone3G[S] -
      Quote Originally Posted by awesomeiPod View Post
      Suicidal rate wouldn't be so high in China if they didn't have poor working conditions and rights.
      Suicides per 100,000 people per year

      Male Female
      China 13.0 14.8
      USA 17.7 4.5

      Not to far off...
    1. rhekt's Avatar
      rhekt -
      it is what it is. sucks.
    1. illusion986's Avatar
      illusion986 -
      I think the only reason foxconn is paying attention and is planning on making changes is because it got out and so many people now know about this, putting pressure on them... And its good that it got out, i wouldn't mind if iphone prices would go up if i knew that this extra money would makes workers happier. Even better apple should suck it up and make less profit on iphones. There is nothing great about having an iphone knowing people jumped out the window after making it.
    1. aric's Avatar
      aric -
      cheaper products, high wage, high std of living, human rights, no overtime. the equal sign only exists in the ideal world, people should get back to reality.

      and if things can be changed, i am pretty sure the chinese government would like everyone of the 1.3billion people,(plus i dunno how many that's born without a registered ID aka "black identity") in china to get paid as much as rest of the world, but it's just not realistic.

      try to give democracy to 1.3billion people who are fighting for survival...
    1. CaptainChaos's Avatar
      CaptainChaos -
      I can't wrap my brain around why anyone would want to kill themselves, but apparently this company is in serious need of help.
    1. sphangman's Avatar
      sphangman -
      @Faxmonkey

      for all your ranting , you facts are full of crap .. i would have thought before taking so much time to go off on that monologue you'd have spent a little time ACTUALLY researching what you are saying. Seeing as you couldn't be bothered, let me help you.

      Global Times - Foxconn deaths hit 11

      SpringerLink - Journal Article

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1118515/


      shame you waffled on really.
    1. DifferentialApp's Avatar
      DifferentialApp -
      Higher iPhone prices now?
    1. bruinsrme's Avatar
      bruinsrme -
      Quote Originally Posted by awesomeiPod View Post
      Suicidal rate wouldn't be so high in China if they didn't have poor working conditions and rights.
      My company is moving over there and co-workers that go there have nothing but horror stories.
    1. CaptainChaos's Avatar
      CaptainChaos -
      Quote Originally Posted by bruinsrme View Post
      My company is moving over there and co-workers that go there have nothing but horror stories.
      It sucks that companies are bailing out of the U.S. during the tough times we are having.
    1. Comedy's Avatar
      Comedy -
      It's just economics. If companies kept operations in the US when it was financially beneficial to have them elsewhere, in this recession we'd see a lot more people out of work. Profits margins would be smaller already and then would decrease to zero a lot faster.
    1. Faxmonkey's Avatar
      Faxmonkey -
      Quote Originally Posted by sphangman View Post
      @Faxmonkey

      for all your ranting , you facts are full of crap .. i would have thought before taking so much time to go off on that monologue you'd have spent a little time ACTUALLY researching what you are saying. Seeing as you couldn't be bothered, let me help you.

      Global Times - Foxconn deaths hit 11

      SpringerLink - Journal Article

      In China, suicide in young women is a problem too


      shame you waffled on really.
      Wikipedia says it's 13 and many others have quoted "13 per 100k" in this very same thread. Accusing me of not having researched the facts is clearly false. It's possible one source or the other is out of date, but more than likely there just isn't any proper reporting in China. Becuase of the way the Chinese government works, lots of figures on these sorts of things for China are often estimates as the government won't release the real numbers. If you can find something more definitive than Wikipedia or the article you linked, then by all means do it.

      Also, as I said, here's a quote from another article:

      Three others were seriously injured in suicide attempts. Compared to the average suicide rate in China, this would seem rather normal. However, workers in factories typically have a much lower suicide rate than the national average. And the number of males committing suicides is unusual. Rural females alone account for half of China's suicides in recent statistics, while urban females account for a portion of the remaining suicides.
      Second of all, The "death toll hits 11", that article is 5 days old. As I said, If you paid attention, you'd see the a new article with the number increasing daily. Also, 16 may have died but I believe a 1 or 2 jumped and did not die, so the number isn't even as bad as it might have been.

      Also, FYI:

      p2pnet news Blog Archive China censors Foxconn deaths scandal: report

      You'll find that link confirms that the death toll is now indeed up to 16, or so it is believed.

      Having established that was indeed correct and accurate in my original post, I'd just like to close by asking:

      "Why did you have such a strong reaction to my post?" You were rude and angry in your response, so clearly I must have hit a nerve -- but I can't for the life of me imagine what nerve. Yes, I implied that you are somewhat complicit in the suffering of others, but I also implicated myself as an iPhone owner. I merely pointed out that this is a universal problem to all electronics manufactured in China and something we, as consumers, should keep in mind.