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Group blames new Foxconn death on exhaustion

updated 11:10 am EDT, Fri June 4, 2010

Says Apple complicit in poor working conditions

Another Foxconn worker has died under unusual circumstances, but this time not from suicide, says a Hong Kong-based activist group. Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) says that on May 27th, a 27-year-old engineer named Yan Li collapsed and died from exhaustion. He had been working for 34 hours straight, the group alleges, and his wife claims that prior to that point, Yan had been working the night shift for a month, always putting in overtime.

Some 10 Foxconn workers have killed themselves as of January. Both Foxconn and one of its main clients, Apple, have however denied links to poor working conditions, which have been reported by local journalists as very harsh. Some employees are said to work virtually non-stop manufacturing goods, only getting enough time off to eat and sleep. Foxconn has attributed the deaths to personal problems, while Apple CEO Steve Jobs has defended them as below Chinese and American suicide rates, arguing that Foxconn is "not a sweatshop."

SACOM charges that Apple is complicit in factory conditions, resisting any serious attempt to correct the situation. Even though Foxconn is raising pay for production workers by 30 percent, possibly with help from Apple, SACOM notes that this does not tackle working conditions, and that the new base wage of 1,200 yuan is only slightly above the legal minimum wages in Shanghai and Guangzhou, which are 1,120 and 1,100 yuan, respectively. Shenzhen, the home of the facility at the heart of complaints, could potentially raise its minimum to 1,400 yuan.

SACOM is demanding that Foxconn and all of the parties involved work towards alleviating pressure on workers, for instance by providing truly better pay to workers, financed by companies like Apple increasing the unit prices they pay. Foxconn treats workers the way it does because of a need to offer the lowest prices, says SACOM. The group is also asking for support in forming a genuine union, as opposed to one backed by China's communist government.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969


    so-called overtime

    In many Asian countries, 'overtime' is a given. There isn't really 9-5 or 9-6. It's not a matter of choice, quite often.

  1. coffeetime

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Human Rights

    It's all boiled down to human rights. No respect for human rights = no caring for the human slaves and their working conditions. This is like America got stuck in the early 1900s and never move on (except technology).

  1. Zanziboy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple not Complicit in Overtime Issues

    Apple's historical audits of Foxconn (as far back as 2006) state the following:

    "We found no instances of forced overtime and employees confirmed in interviews that they could decline overtime requests without penalty. We did, however, find that employees worked longer hours than permitted by our Code of Conduct, which limits normal workweeks to 60 hours and requires at least one day off each week. We reviewed seven months of records from multiple shifts of different productions lines and found that the weekly limit was exceeded 35% of the time and employees worked more than six consecutive days 25% of the time."

  1. Zanziboy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Don't Get Fooled by So-Called "Activists"

    Follow the money: Who benefits from tying up Apple in frivolous lawsuits?

    Remember, the Foxconn facility employs more than 200,000 workers! The rate of suicides at Foxconn is HALF THE USA AVERAGE.

    Americans are twice as likely to commit suicide than Foxconn employees.
    The average Chinese person is twice as likely to commit suicide than Foxconn employees.

    Foxconn Suicide Rate 5/100,000
    US National Suicide Rate: 11.1/100,000
    China Average Suicide Rate: 13.1/100,000


  1. Zanziboy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Cost of Living!

    Finally, I have to address this minimum wage issue. ECA's assessment of the cost-of-living for major cities around the world shows Shanghai and Guangzhou have a HIGHER cost-of-living than Shenzhen.

    And the activists distort the truth when they say the minimum wage in Shenzhen "could" go to 1400 RMB! Come on! That's a 40% increase overnight!

    Anyway, the truth is Shanghai (with the nation's highest minimum wage) has just increased the minimum wage to 1,120 RMB a month. Shenzhen will not exceed Shanghai, so we are only likely to see a 10% increase to 1,100.

  1. Makosuke

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Why "Apple"?

    I could be mistaken here, but Foxconn employs 300,000 people. In addition to the iPad, iPod, and Macs, they manufacture the PS3, Wii, XBox 360, Kindle, and components or whole systems for Dell, HP, Intel, Motorola, and Cisco, just to list the top ones on the Wikipedia page.

    While this is a Mac-centric site so their connection to Apple is of the most interest, why does EVERY SINGLE STORY about Foxconn in pretty much any tech or national news outlet ONLY mention Apple as a contract? You could just as easily say "SACOM charges that Microsoft is complicit in factory conditions..." or "SACOM charges that Dell is complicit in factory conditions..." or "Foxconn, which manufactures the popular Nintendo Wii..."

    Not saying that Apple isn't a major client, or that they shouldn't be concerned about working conditions in the factories that produce their products--frankly, I'd be willing to pay 20% more if Macs were still manufactured in Ireland or California like the old days--but that it's just weird to so single-mindedly single out Apple as one of many huge clients and popular products.

    Frankly, we are ALL complicit in this--we've gotten so addicted to underpriced consumer goods that we're willing to let a semi-autocracy destroy its environment (ever been to Beijing when it wasn't in lockdown for the Olympics? Shanghai? Shenzen?) and abuse its people so that we can save $20 on an iPod and buy a USB stick for pocket change.

  1. 11211

    Joined: Dec 1969


    won't someone think of the shareholders?

    please folks, don't worry about these azn tween & teens making iPads for us to enjoy. Think of the poor appl shareholders whose profits will be cut if we don't make these tweens work 20 hr days.

    Please, won't someone think of the shareholders?
    -appl fanboi

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