Worked to Death – Foxconn Delivers
This year, amidst the assembly of millions of new Apple iPads, there were thirteen suicide attempts and eight deaths in Foxconn’s factory in Shenzhen, China.
His last paystub showed he had worked 286 hours in the month before he died…
Foxconn continues to work with Apple to fill their massive orders of iPods, iPhones and iPads, in addition to PS3’s for Sony, and other gadgets for Dell. No talking here, just hours upon hours of assembly, sleep, and repeat, all without leaving Foxconn City.
“Foxconn” or “iPod City” as its referred to, employees some 450,000 workers, in an an area spanning a little over a mile. Its dubbed a city for good reason. Within are fifteen factories, five dormitories, a fire brigade, as well as grocery store, bank, restaurants, and a hospital. Workers live work and eat within the city, and the only tv is broadcast by the company, Foxconn TV. The dorm rooms they are given average around 9 workers to a room.
First month salary is kept as a deposit for the uniform. If a worker is late, they are fined 100rmb a minute. If their uniform is damaged, they are fined 500rmb, which is half a monthly salary of around 1000rmb ($150). Talking during your shift is 100rmb fine, and no cell phones are allowed while working. No personal calls, no family emergencies, nothing.
The first victim was Ma Xiangqian, a 19 year old migrant worker. His last paystub showed he had worked 286 hours in the month before he died, including 112 hours of overtime, which is roughly three times the legal limit for China. His salary came out to about 1$ an hour for an average of over 9 hours a day, 7 days a week.
In response to the growing scrutiny, Foxconn has raised workers salaries several times in the last few months. Many workers are receiving roughly $300 a month, nearly double the old rate.
Yet, the story told to the press appears quite different from the information workers volunteer in confidence. Workers describe military style drills, verbal abuse and forced resuscitation of ’self criticisms.’ Big orders often require employees to sleep on factory floors, working 13 consecutive days.
Foxconn has avoided the classification of ’sweatshop’, yet that has given many American companies an excuse to wash there hands or turn a blind eye on the working conditions here. With the installation of ’suicide’ nets around Foxconn factories, one wonders what it will take before seemingly reputable companies such as Apple are held accountable for the human rights nightmare that are the factory floors of Foxconn, the next must-have gadget is currently being manufactured for the New World market.