Just when Apple is having a day of great news with profits up, new software and hardware released, reports are emerging that yet another employee at its manufacturing plant Foxconn has committed suicide.
The 21-year-old jumped to his death from the sixth floor of the factory dormitory in Shenzhen, China, to become the latest in a long line of suicides at the plant.
The problem is so bad that management decided to make employees sign agreements that they wouldn’t commit suicide – from the looks of it that hair-brain idea just isn’t working.
Rumours about the working conditions at Foxconn have been cropping up in the tech press for ages now, with stories that workers at the plant are expected to do six 12-hour shifts a week and 98 hour of overtime a month. The living conditions don’t get much better either as workers are expected to live in dormitories, which have the look and feel of prison blocks.
Foxconn has been quick to point out that its latest suicide had only done a couple of hours overtime since joining the company less than a month ago. But to be honest how many suicides is really going to take before this is taken seriously? There’s no doubt that this is tarnishing Apple’s squeaky clean reputation and can’t be good for the morale of the workers at Foxconn.
The thought of people dying to satisfy the West’s need for new Apple products leaves my stomach churning. The Centre for Research on Multinational Companies and the human rights group Students And Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) have accused Foxconn of treating workers like machines.
Foxconn have done many things to try and improve their safety and sucide rates; with pay increases and better working conditions being implemented. But the suicides and accidents keep coming, its got so bad that they have even brought in Monks to exorcise evil spirits which they believed led to the suicides.
Workers earn on average as little as $5 a day for their hard work. Steve Jobs famously denied that it’s manufacturing partner Foxconn is a gizmo sweatshop, “Foxconn is not a sweatshop,” he said. “They’ve got restaurants and swimming pools… For a factory, it’s a pretty nice factory.” He is not believed to have visited the place, however.