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Ninth Suicide At iPhone Factory 539

Posted by Soulskill
from the need-a-union-app dept.
shar303 writes "A ninth employee has jumped to his death at Taiwanese iPhone and iPad manufacturer Foxconn, China's state media reports. The 21-year-old worker was the eighth fatality this year. This raises questions as to whether the shiny finish of the latest gadgets available from mega corporations are tarnished by such information, and whether the mistreatment of workers deserves to be highlighted when considering such firms."
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Ninth Suicide At iPhone Factory

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday May 21, 2010 @04:45PM (#32298616)

    Turns out there is an extremely high suicide rate amongst engineers who lost their iPhone prototypes.

    One was in such despair that he shot himself 25 times, with several different caliber weapons.

    • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Friday May 21, 2010 @04:53PM (#32298778)

      One was in such despair that he shot himself 25 times, with several different caliber weapons.

      You have to respect that employee's dedication and work ethic to be able to accomplish that. Hell, I'm such a wuss I'd probably have stopped shooting myself after the first bullet.

      • by pipingguy (566974) on Friday May 21, 2010 @10:42PM (#32302054) Homepage

        Are you a programmer and willing to shoot only an appendage?

        C
        You shoot yourself in the foot.

        C++
        You accidentally create a dozen clones of yourself and shoot them all in the foot. Providing emergency medical assistance is impossible since you can't tell which are bitwise copies and which are just pointing at others and saying, "That's me, over there."

        JAVA
        After importing java.awt.right.foot.* and java.awt.gun.right.hand.*, and writing the classes and methods of those classes needed, you've forgotten what the hell you're doing.

        Ruby
        Your foot is ready to be shot in roughly five minutes, but you just can't find anywhere to shoot it.

        PHP
        You shoot yourself in the foot with a gun made with pieces from 300 other guns.

        ASP.NET
        Find a gun, it falls apart. Put it back together, it falls apart again. You try using the .GUN Framework, it falls apart. You stab yourself in the foot instead.

        SQL
        SELECT @ammo:=bullet FROM gun WHERE trigger = 'PULLED';
        INSERT INTO leg (foot) VALUES (@ammo);

        Perl
        You shoot yourself in the foot, but nobody can understand how you did it. Six months later, neither can you.

        Javascript
        You've perfected a robust, rich user experience for shooting yourself in the foot. You then find that bullets are disabled on your gun.

        CSS
        You shoot your right foot with one hand, then switch hands to shoot your left foot but you realize that the gun has turned into a banana.

        FORTRAN
        You shoot yourself in each toe, iteratively, until you run out of toes, then you read in the next foot and repeat. If you run out of bullets, you continue anyway because you have no exception-handling ability.

        COBOL
        Using a COLT 45 HANDGUN, AIM gun at LEG.FOOT, THEN place ARM.HAND.FINGER. on HANDGUN.TRIGGER and SQUEEZE. THEN return HANDGUN to HOLSTER. CHECK whether shoelace needs to be retied.

        LISP
        You shoot yourself in the appendage which holds the gun with which
        you shoot yourself in the appendage which holds the gun with which
        you shoot yourself in the appendage which holds the gun with which
        you shoot yourself in the appendage which holds the gun with which
        you shoot yourself in the appendage which holds ....

        BASIC
        Shoot yourself in the foot with a water pistol. On big systems, continue until entire lower body is waterlogged.

        Pascal
        The compiler won't let you shoot yourself in the foot.

        Unix
        % ls
        foot.c foot.h foot.o toe.c toe.o
        % rm * .o
        rm: .o: No such file or directory
        % ls
        %

        Visual Basic
        You'll shoot yourself in the foot, but you'll have so much fun doing it that you won't care.

        Ada
        After correctly packaging your foot, you attempt to concurrently load the gun, pull the trigger, scream and shoot yourself in the foot. When you try, however, you discover that your foot is of the wrong type.

        Assembly
        You try to shoot yourself in the foot only to discover you must first reinvent the gun, the bullet, and your foot. After that's done, you pull the trigger, the gun beeps several times, then crashes.

        Python
        You try to shoot yourself in the foot but you just keep hitting the whitespace between your toes.

        Etc...

    • One was in such despair that he shot himself 25 times, with several different caliber weapons.

      And then threw himself through a closed window on the 10th floor. Very tragic story.

  • Causality (Score:2, Insightful)

    by qoncept (599709)

    whether the mistreatment of workers deserves to be highlighted when considering such firms.

    Workers killing themselves as proof their employer mistreats them? Seems just a tad presumptuous. Likely? Sure. Matter of fact? Of course not.

  • by jra (5600) on Friday May 21, 2010 @04:49PM (#32298676)

    noting that this factory's staff is over 400k employees -- or roughly the size of Cleveland -- and that this is not really news, and I tend to agree.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 21, 2010 @04:59PM (#32298876)

      Yeah, China's suicide rate is really high period. 13.9/100000 according to wiki. With a population of 400k, this particular company will need more than 4x more suicides this year before this becomes a real issue.

      It sucks, but the people who are there are usually fleeing even worse conditions in rural china.

      People act so surprised by this, as they buy their high-complexity electronics from wal-mart at dirt cheap prices.

      • Yeah, China's suicide rate is really high period. 13.9/100000 according to wiki. With a population of 400k, this particular company will need more than 4x more suicides this year before this becomes a real issue.

        Heck, the US has a suicide rate of 11.1/100k, I guess that's also Apple's fault.

      • by jeko (179919) on Friday May 21, 2010 @05:47PM (#32299554)

        People act so surprised by this, as they buy their high-complexity electronics from wal-mart at dirt cheap prices.

        Wow, I totally overlooked that "Don't Beat Your Workers" price tag at WalMart, as well my local "No Oppression Electronics" store.

        OK, look, forgive my snark and the angry frustration that follows, but the general public is not to blame for the horrific way these factories are managed. Prices are set as high as the market will bear. Companies have entire departments whose whole job is to figure out "At what price are our profits maximized?" and costs do not enter into it. No company has ever said, "Wow, we could make a profit at $10, so even though we'd make the same number of sales at $100 for our widget, we just wouldn't feel right taking the extra money..."

        The blood money these companies make does not go into my pocket. I paid plenty for my goods. At the price I paid, these workers would have full, meaningful lives if only management paid them their fair share.

        Ever since Tiananmen, I have tried my best to boycott China. I routinely pay extra to buy "Made in the USA" only to find that label is a lie.

        I have no way of knowing how the products I buy on a day-to-day basis were manufactured. I don't buy Nike. Guess what? Asics, Adidas and New Balance are manufactured in the same horrible places. Oh, "Quit buying yuppie crap," you say? All the generic goods say "Made in Godawful Horror" as well.

        Fortunately, there is a man in America with the power to save these poor people. His name is Steve Jobs. I understand "Our CEO Below" has quite the sweatshop prepared for him. Given the shaky state of his liver, you'd think Steve would be a bit more worried about his soul.

        Yeah, that was a cheap shot. Cheap shots are all I have left. My political vote seems to count for squat. I can't even say "Vote with my wallet" with a straight face. I'd be more than happy to join the protest, but protesting from the "free speech zone" in a chainlink box in the next town doesn't get it done. I'm not willing to hurt anybody.

        So if reminding the man who is responsible for this blood of his own mortality is the only shot I have left, I'll take it.

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday May 21, 2010 @05:16PM (#32299140) Homepage

      And they must have it pretty good compared to us poor folks in Cleveland, since they average about 150 suicides of working-age adults per year.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rogerborg (306625)
      Oh, bingo. Like the furore over how the headline suicide rate in the US military is like OMFG twice the national average and more than the KIA rate!!!!11!

      Then it turns out that the military is composed almost entirely of young men, and most suicides are... wait for it... young men. And when you crunch the figures, holy crap, it turns out that if you're a young man, then the safest place for you to be is in the US military.

      Funny how you never see the final analysis in any headlines. I'm sure DailyKos

  • by Pojut (1027544) on Friday May 21, 2010 @04:49PM (#32298688) Homepage

    Don't know if you all saw this or if it was on Slashdot at all, but Engadget has a full, human-done English translation [engadget.com] of the article written by a reporter who went undercover at the factory.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dward90 (1813520)
      Please mod up. This was extremely informative, thank you for the link. If it wasn't on /. it should have been.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by EricFr (1611979)
      WARNING: engadget is extreemly pro apple and is probably being paid by apple to calm the situation. durring the iPad launch there were tons of "fluff" ipad articles hyping the thing, at one point they even had to turn comments off because people were so angry about engadget's blatent pro apple bias
      • by jeko (179919) on Friday May 21, 2010 @05:03PM (#32298952)

        ...then that only makes the article even more damning, because Apple does not come off well in this report. The article also provides a terrifying glimpse of your future if you work for a living.

        • Depends on what value you give yourself, and how good you can make others believe in that value. I think there should be a science of “personal marketing”. As a subsection of the "self-esteem" section of a general "self-improvement" (including self-teaching yourself new stuff) that get started in school, and continue all your life.

          It’s all really just a mind game.

          I rather run around the streets like in a game, making money in creative ways, doing my thing...
          than being practically just a re

      • by blair1q (305137)

        Are you saying engaget faked the translation, or faked the whole article?

  • by jonathonconley (1816990) on Friday May 21, 2010 @04:52PM (#32298744)
    Foxconn has over 400,000 employees. The suicide rate in China was ~13 out of 100,000. So that means Foxconn has a suicide rate (if the year continues on this pace) that is less than half of the country average.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gnasher719 (869701)

      Foxconn has over 400,000 employees. The suicide rate in China was ~13 out of 100,000. So that means Foxconn has a suicide rate (if the year continues on this pace) that is less than half of the country average.

      Suicide rate in the USA was 12.3 out of 100,000 in 2006; total of about 33,000 suicides; that's the latest numbers. It's amazing with Apple; first we were told that an iPhone costs $2000 (because obviously we have to add all the phone contracts to the purchase price; strange that nobody did that with any other phone), then it is the amazing exploding iPods (which, strange enough, were all damaged from the outside), now it is all the suicide at Foxconn, which are obviously Apple's fault, even though Foxconn

    • by eulernet (1132389) on Friday May 21, 2010 @05:26PM (#32299290)

      The counted suicides are the ones at the factory.

      Suicides at home are not taken into account in these statistics.

      In our western countries, suicides during work are really rare, and it's also rare to die because of an accident at work, compared to China.

      And what about your sick way of counting deads ?
      Any life is precious, but of course, the value of their lives is less important than the money they can provide us.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Pincus (744497)
      Adult suicide rate? Employed adult suicide rate?
    • Apples / Oranges? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 21, 2010 @05:43PM (#32299500)

      They killed themselves while at the factory. It does not count (if any) the number of employees who killed themselves at home, while the overall China stat o f 13 per 100,000 counts all suicides.

  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Friday May 21, 2010 @04:53PM (#32298770) Homepage

    Maybe one day the workers in China will get together and form a national union to ensure workers' rights. Maybe through their collective efforts they could make a workers' paradise. Heck, maybe they could turn the entire country into some sort of commune where everyone has to do their fair share and they all benefit from the profits.

    I wonder if that could ever work. It's amazing that no people have ever tried it.

    • by getNewNickName (980625) on Friday May 21, 2010 @04:57PM (#32298850)

      Maybe one day the workers in China will get together and form a national union to ensure workers' rights. Maybe through their collective efforts they could make a workers' paradise.

      And watch all the manufacturing jobs leave the country to the next country willing to exploit their citizens. Isn't that what globalization is all about?

      • You don't seem to realize I was making a joke so I'll clue you in. China is communist.

      • by blair1q (305137)

        Nah. I bet it's still cheaper to make this stuff in the most overpopulated country, even if it's got an oppressive government and corrupt regulators.

    • by wsanders (114993) on Friday May 21, 2010 @05:05PM (#32298976) Homepage

      Da, I cannot believe no one is getting joke you make! We solve problem in Soviet Russia by having one story factories.

              -Joseph Stalin

    • I'm reminded of the IWW ("Wobblies") [wikipedia.org] when I read "Maybe one day the workers in China will get together and form a national union to ensure workers' rights."

      How did that work out of for the Wobblies? Long story short: not so good.

    • by blair1q (305137)

      They did. And they grew a lot of rice and made a lot of molded plastic stuff.

      Then someone at the top discovered that if they give all the profits from an operation to the guy running the operation they could make more money for themselves.

      So now they do it that way, and now they make a lot of shiny glassy electronic stuff, and the people who are not at the top are making noise like they want the old system back.

  • Or... (Score:5, Informative)

    by sootman (158191) on Friday May 21, 2010 @05:02PM (#32298936) Homepage Journal

    ... maybe suicides happen every so often at all factories and we just notice this because it's the factory that makes iPhones?

    I wonder how many Happy Meal Toy factory employees off themselves in a year?

    Also: according to Wikipedia, Foxconn also makes "Intel-branded motherboards for Intel Corp.; various orders for American computer manufacturers Dell and Hewlett-Packard; motherboards for UK computer manufacturer Zoostorm; the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 for Sony; the Wii for Nintendo; the Xbox 360 for Microsoft, cell phones for Motorola, the Amazon Kindle, and Cisco equipment."

    • ... maybe suicides happen every so often at all factories and we just notice this because it's the factory that makes iPhones?

      Actually, while the title says "iPhone Factory" none of the articles I found make that claim. They just say it is at a factory run by Foxconn, the company that makes iPhones. Most of the articles are less Apple focused and mention the other products they make too, since no one seems to know what this particular factory makes.

  • ...that makes me want an iPhone even more.

  • ... who also manufactures for Dell, HP, Cisco and also the Playstation 3, the Wii and the XBox 360, cell phones for Motorola, the Kindle etc.

    Oh yeah, let' s not forget they are one of the biggest manufacturers for cable connectors for use inside no-name computers.

  • by tlambert (566799) on Friday May 21, 2010 @05:09PM (#32299042)

    Restrict access to the roof? Just saying... if you can't get access to get out of the building up high, you have a hard time jumping from the window you can't get out or from the roof you can't get to.

    -- Terry

  • Sympathy... (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Bobfrankly1 (1043848)

    A ninth employee has jumped to his death at Taiwanese iPhone and iPad manufacturer Foxconn, China's state media reports.

    Using the mac OS has me wanting to do this at times, but it's usually all in jest. Usually...

  • by stephentyrone (664894) on Friday May 21, 2010 @05:17PM (#32299170)

    The factory in question supposedly employs 400,000 workers. The annual suicide rate in China (as reported by the WHO) is 16.7 per 100,000 people. That means that in a population of randomly selected Chinese the size of the factory workforce, we should expect to see 400000 people * 16.7 suicides/(100000 people * 1 year) * 5 months / 12 months = 27.8 suicides so far this year.

    Can we conclude that assembling shiny gadgets makes it less likely that one will commit suicide? It meets the standards for publication...

    • Thanks for that, I guess it makes it okay then.

      • It doesn't make it okay; it makes it unlikely that the work environment increases the likelihood that the factory employees would choose to commit suicide.

        Whether or not it's okay depends rather strongly on one's religious/moral views about suicide.

      • by blair1q (305137)

        Nice sarcasm, but yes, it makes it okay.

        Because when you subtract the few cases that are obviously stress-induced (no company is homogeneous so i have no doubt some employees are being terrorized by their managers, but that's a criminal issue, not a corporate one), the suicide rate at this company is even lower still than the national average.

  • Karoshi (Japanese) — Death from overwork

    I wonder if this kind of culture is true in Taiwan too. Anyone local here to tell us a bit about it?

    The weird thing is, that around here, Foxconn is only known for very el-cheapo mainboards and stuff. The kind that has a certain reputation... for half of it being defective, or things like that. I never knew that they were producing Apple hardware.
    Is this a plus for Foxconn, or a minus for Apple? (Considering I very often hear stories about how the interior is ac

  • "We're DYING to bring you the new iPhone"
    "Look at the new DROP DEAD gorgeous iPad!"
  • Apple should make them in USA now! This is what china mart gets us.

  • They're clearly despondent over the lack of Flash on the iPhone.

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