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Foxconn Boss: Worker Suicides Are Not Our Fault

Posted: 07/2/2014 5:12 pm

terry gou guo taiming foxconn ceoThe head of Taiwanese manufacturing giant Foxconn has come out to say a spate of suicides over the years at the factories in China are not related to poor labor conditions.

Terry Gou (Guo Taiming), the founder and chief executive of Foxconn, told a shareholder meeting that 90% of the suicides that have happened at Foxconn are “due to personal problems and family disputes”. Gou also told investors that with 470,000 employees, odds are some will commit suicide.

Guo did show some compassion, though, saying suicide does not solve any problems, and that anyone with suicidal thoughts should call the suicide prevention hotline.

Foxconn came to media prominence when a rash of suicides took place at the mega-factory complex between 2010 and 2012. As a result, staff made changes to the work environment that include reduced work hours, increased pay, the installment of safety nets to catch jumpers, psychological staff to help workers.


Photo: China Daily


Shenzhen’s minimum salary to increase to 1808 yuan

Posted: 12/27/2013 5:03 pm

Shenzhen mayor Xu Qin announced this week that the minimum salary in the city will increase by 13% to 1808 yuan as of February 1. The minimum hourly wage will increase by 13.8% to 16.5 yuan, Shenzhen Special Zone Daily reports.

Local governments in China are required to raise their minimum wage levels at least once every two years. The last increase in the minimum salary was made in March this year when it was raised by 100 yuan to 1600 yuan a month.

Shenzhen has long had the highest minimum wage in China. Last year Wired published an op-ed arguing that the latest increase “could cause a ripple effect across the world’s major technology companies.”

Apple, HP, Samsung and Nokia are among the companies that have parts and products manufactured in Shenzhen, so the wage rise could impact the cost of computers, handsets and games consoles worldwide. Original equipment manufacturers such as Foxconn might start looking elsewhere for cheaper bases. But even though manufacturing costs are rising across China, the country is still highly attractive to manufacturers due to its infrastructure.

The announcement was made at the 101st executive meeting of the municipal government, a meeting at which the development of e-commerce was heavily emphasised.


17 Foxconn workers struck by lightning on Huizhou mountain

Posted: 05/3/2013 7:00 am

Seventeen people were injured when struck by lightning on Luofu Mountain in Huizhou on April 30, Nanfang Daily reports. The incident happened at around 2 p.m. when the party was descending the mountain at about 800 meters above sea level.

Seven of the injured have been discharged from hospital, nine are still in hospital in Changning Village and one has been transferred to Guangzhou eye hospital.

Thirty year-old Luo Bo, from Guangyuan in Sichuan Province, was leading the party of colleagues from the Foxconn factory in Longxi Village. During a thunderstorm, they took shelter under a rock when lightning struck.

Luo was the first to come round and he saw that his colleague, Gong Xinli, was the most seriously injured. He was lying prostrate on the ground and there was blood on his neck and coming out of his nose. Two of their female colleagues were unconscious.

They were taken to hospital and now none is in a critical condition.

In 2009, one was killed and four were injured during a lightning strike in Huizhou.


More Foxconn workers, frustrated by the company’s cost cutting, jump from buildings

Posted: 04/1/2013 10:00 am

There were two incidents involving frustrated Foxconn workers climbing to the top of buildings in Shenzhen to express their frustration on March 29. Nobody was killed but the incidents cast light on anger caused by lay-offs and cost cutting at the company, Caijing reports.

At around 9 a.m., a female worker jumped from the top of the building and survived her injuries. Then at around 12 noon, three climbed to the top of the building and caused a stand-off that led to fire engines and ambulances arriving at the scene before they were talked into coming down.

A representative of the company admitted to media that the incidents occured but denied that the company was introducing measures to “encourage” workers to resign as the company has seen a decrease in orders this year.

Workers stand at the top of a building threatening to jump, courtesy of

Some media had earlier reported that the company was giving 600 yuan subsidies to workers who resigned.

The company announced last month that in 2012 it had suffered its biggest net loss since 2005. For this reason, the company has been laying of more people than it has been recruiting.


Another suicide at Foxconn? Employee jumps off 9th floor after slitting wrists

Posted: 09/17/2012 3:59 pm

The Foxconn factory in Guanlan

Foxconn, the manufacturer of iDevices, Kindles, Samsung phones, tablets, e-readers and more, is coming under the gun once again after another of its young employees was found dead last Wednesday in Guanlan, very close to Shenzhen.

Reports say the man worked at one of Foxconn’s factories in Shenzhen.  He jumped off the 9th floor of an apartment complex – a private building unrelated to Foxconn – after slitting his wrists, according to IDG News which cited local media.  Other reports confirmed the man died and worked at Foxconn, but it’s not clear that he committed suicide as a result of his work.

Foxconn, which employees hundreds of thousands of people in Shenzhen, has come under fire in recent years after several of its employees committed suicide at its factories. PC World says the company is trying to improve, however:

Earlier this year, Apple announced the Fair Labor Association (FLA) would conduct audits of Foxconn factories, including one at Guanlan, which employs more than 70,000 workers.

In the FLA’s latest audit of Foxconn, the group said the company was steadily making improvements in conditions at its factory. Foxconn has also said the company is committed to worker safety, and has been making changes including raising wages and limiting workers’ overtime.

The company has however recently come under scrutiny for allegedly forcing vocational students to work at its factories, as part of its internship program. Foxconn denies the allegation, and has stated the workers are free to leave the program at anytime.

You can learn more about life in factories in the PRD in the latest edition of Nanfang TV.



Nanfang TV: “Factory Girls” author interviews Dongguan factory workers

Posted: 09/17/2012 12:58 pm

The iPhone 5 is set to be released in the United States, Hong Kong, and a few other places later this week, and the sparkly new phone is putting renewed focus on conditions inside the Chinese factories where the devices are made.

Leslie T. Chang wrote an excellent book on life inside PRD factories called Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China in 2008, and says workers inside these factories aren’t just toiling to meet the needs of decadent western consumers:

“We, the beneficiaries of globalization seem to exploit these victims with every purchase we make and the injustice feels embedded in the products themselves,” Chang says. “This simple narrative equating Western demand and Chinese suffering is appealing … but it’s also inaccurate and disrespectful. We must be peculiarly self-obsessed to imagine that we have the power to drive tens of millions of people on the other side of the world to migrate and suffer in such terrible ways … By focusing so much on ourselves and our gadgets, we have rendered the individuals on the other ends into invisibility, as tiny and interchangeable as the parts of a mobile phone.”

She argues these employees are also working for a better life for themselves, their families, and their offspring. You can watch one of her talks on the issue below, in the latest edition of Nanfang TV.


Journalist given access to Shenzhen factory to see iPad being made

Posted: 04/13/2012 6:04 pm

The tech websites have been atwitter about a new video which has surfaced showing the creation of one of Apple’s popular iPad tablets.

Apple PR, which is facing heavy criticism over its labour relations in China, gave the journalist access to its factory floor to see the iconic product being made.

Marketplace Journalist Rob Schmitz was the chosen journalist, according to a report from Australia:

Schmitz reported every single part of an iPad is fastened by a worker in seconds, and repeated hundreds of times a day.

He said the factory is separated into working groups which are each responsible for different parts of the iPad – from the chip, the motherboard and the battery to the touch screen.

Schmitz called the work hypnotic, and their movements engineered to be efficient as possible.

“At the end of each line, workers box up iPads as fast as they can,” he said.

“After timing several lines, I arrived at a very rough estimate: one new iPad every two seconds. It’s believed that Apple makes between $200 and $300 off each iPad. If that’s true, the people in this room help Apple make more than $10 million in pure profit, each day.”

We’ve posted the video below.  Unfortunately it’s from YouTube, so you may need a VPN to access it.


Holiday reading: why the iPhone is built in Shenzhen

Posted: 01/26/2012 10:49 am

Between the Spring Festival feasts, visiting flower markets and chowing down on tang yuan, we thought we’d pass an interesting article your way.

The New York Times has recently completed a two-part series on how the US lost out on building the iPhone, some of which are now assembled here in Shenzhen.  The first article goes into detail explaining what Shenzhen can do, and how the US has fallen behind:

An eight-hour drive from that glass factory is a complex, known informally as Foxconn City, where the iPhone is assembled. To Apple executives, Foxconn City was further evidence that China could deliver workers — and diligence — that outpaced their American counterparts.

That’s because nothing like Foxconn City exists in the United States.

The facility has 230,000 employees, many working six days a week, often spending up to 12 hours a day at the plant. Over a quarter of Foxconn’s work force lives in company barracks and many workers earn less than $17 a day. When one Apple executive arrived during a shift change, his car was stuck in a river of employees streaming past. “The scale is unimaginable,” he said.

The entire article is well worth a read.  The second part, which looks at the safety of Foxconn plants in China, is also highly-recommended.




Another worker plummets to his death at Foxconn

Posted: 07/21/2011 9:37 am

The assembly line at Foxconn

Foxconn, the maker of all things Apple, Sony and Nokia among others, has been heavily criticized in recent months for workplace conditions, specifically at its Shenzhen plant in Longhua District. More than a dozen workers jumped from their dorm rooms last year, forcing Foxconn to improve workplace conditions and raise salaries.

But that doesn’t seem to have helped.

The Taipei Times notes that a 21-year old who had only been working at Foxconn for two weeks fell from his dormitory on Tuesday:

The company, meanwhile, has tried to contain the damage from the suspected suicide attempt by contending that the employee’s fall was not a result of work pressure.

Foxconn vice president Terry Cheng (程天縱) attributed the death to a possible accident, saying that the employee had only worked two hours of overtime since he joined the company.

“Based on my preliminary understanding, the employee was not a member of staff on the production line, but he worked in our research department,” Cheng told reporters in Taipei on Tuesday. “The employee was still on a training program and he had worked overtime for only two hours during the past 20 days, so we think that work pressure is irrelevant.”

He said that “prior to the accident, the employee had dined with 20 to 30 colleagues and they were likely drunk.”

Shanghaiist notes that claims of no overtime are spurious at best, considering who Foxconn’s clients are (*cough* Apple *cough*) and how the products it creates are in such high demand. Nonetheless, the series of suicides has not only hurt Foxconn’s reputation, but is one of the catalysts for the company’s move into Western China.

The exact number of deaths at Foxconn over the past two years are hard to pin down, with figures ranging from 13 to 16. You can get more info here.




Is this the iPad 2, spotted in Shenzhen?

Posted: 02/18/2011 2:00 am

We know that Apple has a huge factory in Shenzhen run by Foxconn, so those much-anticipated iPad 2s must be floating around the city somewhere. Rumour is Apple will launch the device anytime from now until early April.

If you spot any out in the wild, or have any tips on the specs of the new device, let us know. Until then, here are a few pics that we’ve come across while trying to dig up some info. The home screen is definitely different, and includes the Camera app.

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