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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


Scenery Is Nice, But Salaries Are Low In The Pearl River Delta

Posted: 06/12/2014 5:22 pm

chinese workers assembly lineIt’s beautiful in the south of China, so much so that some residents may have chosen to stay here for the scenery alone. That’s good for them, but those coming here for work might be in for a hard time.

A study by the Financial Times has ranked the per capita pay of listed companies throughout China, and the results don’t look good for Guangdong Province.

Haikou, Hainan (a beautiful place, mind you) has been crowned as the city with the lowest average salary at RMB 53,000 a year. Here’s the entire list starting with the lowest (Guangdong cities in bold):

1. Haikou, Hainan
2. Lanzhou, Gansu
3. Shantou, Guangdong
4. Zhuji, Shaoxing, Zhejiang
5. Nanchang, Jiangxi
6. Huzhou, Zhejiang
7. Zhongshan, Guangdong
8. Zibo, Shandong
9. Harbin, Heilongjiang
10. Jiangyin, Wuxi, Jiangsu

RELATED: Guangdong Hukou Reform to Populate Rural Cities with Migrants

A pattern focusing on cities of the Yangtze and Pearl River Delta becomes more clear when the list is opened up to the top twenty ranked cities with the lowest average salary:

11. Wuhu, Anhui
12. Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu
13. Weifang, Shandong
14. Foshan, Guangdong
15. Nantong, Jiangsu
16. Dongguan, Guangdong
17. Changzhou, Jiangsu
18. Chengdu, Sichuan
19. Zhuhai, Guangdong
20. Guiyang, Guizhou

Pearl River Delta cities make an appearance on this list a total of four times: Zhongshan, Foshan, Dongguan, and Zhuhai. Together with Shatou, there are more cities from Guangdong on this list than from any other province in China.

To confirm the disparity of wealth in the PRD, another recent list ranks the cities in China in which people are most likely to spend money.

At the beginning of 2014, Ctrip compiled data from over 90 million registered users in order to find the most popular travel destinations during Spring Festival. The top two cities are (unsurprisingly) Beijing and Shanghai, but the Pearl River Delta is represented very well at positions three and four by Guangzhou and Shenzhen, respectively.

In related developments regarding second-tier cities with crappy salaries, hukou restrictions on migrant workers have been relaxed in Guangdong as a way to entice them to stay in the province.

Besides hukou reform, the beautiful sub-tropical climate and beautiful scenery will also continue to draw people.



Photo: China Review News


Dongguan Cabbie Dies After Working 24 Continuous Hours

Posted: 04/23/2014 12:12 pm

taxi cab driver overwork to death labor conditions

Wang Xianwu is your average hard-working Chinese man. Recently divorced, Wang wanted a better life for his children, and was trying to secure a down payment on a house for his son. Unfortunately, it was Wang’s diligence and work ethic that served as his demise.

Wang died on April 20, and was found in his rented apartment in Zhushan, Dongguan, reports Dongguan Times. Wang was only 43 years-old. He had been driving cabs in Dongguan for a total of 12 years, and had been working for the Dongguan Tianlong Taxi company.

The preliminary investigation by police state that the suspected cause of death is “overwork”. They may not have to search hard: right before he passed away, Wang had worked 24 continuous hours driving a cab.

A standard practice for operating a cab in China is to assign two drivers to one car. Working in shifts, one works during the day while the other works at night. Due to a change of shifts on the day he died, Wang ended up working both shifts. Accustomed to long hours, Wang normally worked shifts of at least 12 hours long.

Death from overwork is not rare in China. Another Dongguan man died suddenly early April after working the entire month of March in which he accrued 190 hours of overtime. 21 Guangdong police officers that died last year were attributed to overwork. A 29 year-old real estate planner died suddenly after routinely working until three or four am each day.

A grand procession of a hundred cabs adorned in white flowers supplied a regal farewell for Wang Xianwu. However, it’s still not clear as to what other measures will be taken in light of this tragedy. Under the current system that forces taxi drivers to work long hours at the cost to their health, what fare is fair?

Photo: Dongguan Times


Labour Unrest Grows in Guangdong With Two More High-Profile Protests

Posted: 04/15/2014 7:07 pm

galanz factory riot demonstration wages rampage labor

A day before Guangzhou hospital security guards were convicted for disturbing social order by protesting low wages, workers at a Galanz factory in Zhongshan rioted due to unfair wages.

Yesterday, a Weibo post (now deleted) reported a riot had broken out in the dormitories at the Galanz factory during the early morning of April 14. 2,000 workers were said to be protesting against a low wage standard that was below than that promised during recruitment, 21st Century Business Herald reported.

However, the management at Galanz gave a different version of the incident. They confirmed that a protest had indeed occurred at the factory by the workers. However, instigated by workers who had been drinking, only approximately 200 workers got involved in the unrest while those not involved presumably had a difficult time trying to fall asleep.

At present, the unrest is over and an investigation is pending after police were called in.

As for what could happen if protests are taken too far: Several hospital security guards involved in a high-profile labor protest in Guangzhou last year were convicted today, Reuters reports.

After negotiations between the Guangzhou Chinese Medicine University Hospital and other workers would leave them with nothing, the convicted security guards climbed to the roof and threatened to jump before detained by police on August 19 of last year.

All 12 accused were found guilty of “disturbing social order”, but received comparably light punishments with the longest sentence being nine months. A lawyer for one of the convicted guards, Duan Yi, explained that China’s leaders are still liable to crack down on labor activists:

“They are sending a signal to society at large which is that as workers protect their rights, if they are even slightly extreme they could receive criminal punishment.”

As a family member pointed out, none of the convicted had put any other people in danger, and yet they have been incarcerated up until the trial today.

It would seem that a dialog between both labor and management is the way by which a compromise can be achieved, and yet such an outcome is not assured when management like Galanz occupies an infallible position. They had explained their stance on the rioting workers’ demands by saying:

The company will do its best to fulfill all the rational requests of its employees.

If it ain’t rational, it ain’t being fulfilled.

Photos: Weibo


Following rash of factory poisonings, Guangzhou to shut down 600 illegal shoe factories

Posted: 02/28/2012 7:45 am

No night elves in this story. A series of incidents involving poisoned employees of illegal shoe workshops in Guangzhou’s Liwan district has led the government to take action: a total of 626 illegal shoe workshops are slated to be closed by the end of this month, and 200 have been shut down already.


The crackdown comes as a follow-up to a story covered by TheNanfang last week with news from the New Express newspaper about 30 shoemakers in Liwan left with serious nerve damage—in addition to several deaths—after longterm workplace exposure to toxic glue fumes.

New Express and other media revisited several illegal shoe workshops in Liwan district late last week, finding operating machinery and half-finished footwear.

“Wherever there’s money,” said a Mr. Deng, when asked why he chose to remain working in an unventilated, highly toxic area, “that’s where we’ll be. We have no other choice, we must earn money to live.”

. . .

In related news, Southern Daily also reported last week that workers in Shenzhen at more than 11,000 enterprises involving electronics manufacturing, printing, shoemaking, hardware electroplating, quarrying and plastic toy, furniture and battery manufacturing) are at risk of occupational diseases. In addition, according to the Shenzhen health authorities, at least 336,000 workers in the city are in regular contact, on the job, with toxic substances.

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