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Foxconn Workers Getting Raise With Apple Subsidies 284

Posted by Soulskill
from the damage-control dept.
hackingbear writes "Workers at Taiwanese electronic outsourcing manufacturer Foxconn are getting a pay raise after a series of 13 suicides, including three in three consecutive days. According to an article by state-run newspaper China Daily, Apple concluded that the main cause of the suicides is low wages. (The media has also attributed the suicides to a variety of other factors — everything from the semi-military style of management, to long overtime, to China's one-child policy, and Foxconn paying too much compensation to the family of suicide workers, thereby encouraging copycat suicides.) Apple plans to subsidize raises using its own products (Google translation; Chinese original here) — the first one being the iPad. This would raise the outsourcing cost from 2.3% to 3% of the iPad's sales price. The article does not say the amount of the raise per worker, but it is rumored to be about 20%, according to other Chinese news sources."
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Foxconn Workers Getting Raise With Apple Subsidies

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  • by aristotle-dude (626586) on Monday May 31, 2010 @04:13PM (#32410210)

    Now Apple will jack up the price on iPads by 20%!

    It would raise the cost to Apple by .7 percent per iPad. I think that Apple intends on eating that difference rather than passing it on to the consumer.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 31, 2010 @04:16PM (#32410232)

    It's only because apple charges 2-3x as much as their next closest competitor. That means they should be paying at least 10 percent more to their workers :D

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 31, 2010 @04:44PM (#32410544)

    Dell isn't gouging their customers. In reality, for the premium price that Apple charges, they should be manufacturing their products in a western country with some decent labor laws.

  • by Qwavel (733416) on Monday May 31, 2010 @04:46PM (#32410570)

    I agree that Apple has been subject to unfair criticism in regard to this problem. This problem is not about Apple in particular - it is more about conditions in China in particular. For example, let's remember the huge number of Chinese miners who die every year due to unsafe conditions.

    By the same token, Apple's offer to subsidize their wages is equally meaningless, though understandable given the unfair criticism they were subject too.

    The changes that are needed are more fundamental.

    Perhaps what we need is more companies like Google who are prepared to make real sacrifices in the name of the fundamental freedoms. What Google gave up in leaving China is enormous - just look at the investment reports.

    I'm sorry that more companies didn't support Google in some way so that the whole saga could have ended better. Nokia, Apple, and MS have instead slipped rather nicely into the void left by Google. Nokia has generally had an excellent record on political issues (e.g. always having the best environmental record) so I had hoped for more from them.

    As a post-script, I will slip in a little gratuitous Apple bashing (since the O.P. requested it and I have let Apple off so far). Though Apple is not to blame for what happened at Foxconn, it is interesting how Apple is starting to resemble a totalitarian state like China - with its giant bureaucracy of appstore censors who won't let bad things be said about prominent politicians or about Apple itself, and because it seems to be creating some sort of competition free zone with the iPhone/iPad (e.g. you shall only get porn from Playboy because they are the designated porn distributors).

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:09PM (#32410852)

    Who says that FoxConn is not just going to take the extra money as profit rather than give that money in the form of raises? The country is horribly corrupt at government and company levels.

    Apple.

    Apple's just paying lip service.

    Apple regularly audits their suppliers, publishes those audits (even though they were dragged through the muck last time they published a yearly audit), and requires those suppliers to make changes or suffer penalties or lose Apple's business. They're one of the few companies demonstrably doing more than paying lip service.

  • by shadowofwind (1209890) on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:18PM (#32410980)

    who said they worked 12 hour shifts with no days off.

    The excuses about labor supply and demand, and how the factory is an improvement over a Chinese farm, are bullshit. If it was really like that, they could cut pay in half, use 4 shifts instead of 2 (or whatever the current scheme is), and give the workers an option of working double. Or some other such improvement. As it is, its just an abuse of power. As screwed up as organized labor has been in the US, this is what happens when you don't have it at all.

    And yes, Apple is culpable, and so are all of us that own products by companies who use Foxconn. When a company is making profits, and its executives are earning large salaries and bonuses, the market isn't forcing them to do what they do. They can always scale back the size of their mansions a little bit.

  • by Hadlock (143607) on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:40PM (#32411264) Homepage Journal

    Can you imagine being so poor and destitute, with so little prospects for the future that taking your own life for profit seems like the best way to help your family in the long run? All the while some American is working 20 hours a week managing the manufacturing of the product from his pool overlooking some valley in California; his biggest worries is whether or not he can afford his wife buying her third convertible this week, and if he is going to be able to make it down to the yacht club this Sunday. It's sort of hard (or it should be) to take your $10 million bonus for exceeding production goals on a product that people are taking their lives over. Whoever is paying the bills to the manufacturing plant ultimately doesn't matter, some company is going to be the low-hanging fruit (pun intended) and the fact that modern asian manufacturing is actually worse than slavery is the important thing people are trying to highlight here. Plantation slaves in the deep south had it better than many asians working in factories today.

  • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:45PM (#32411314)

    Isn't the suicide rate for FoxConn employees somewhat less than the population of China as a whole?

    Getting a job at FoxConn would actually reduce your tendency to commit suicide.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@nOspAm.mac.com> on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:51PM (#32411392) Journal

    The suicide rate among foxconn workers is not only lower than for the population of China in general, but also lower than every US state. Every suicide is a tragic event, but I'm not buying the contention that their jobs are driving them to do it.

    -jcr

  • by BlueWaterBaboonFarm (1610709) on Monday May 31, 2010 @06:38PM (#32411898)
    I am by no means an Apple fan boy. I own none of their products and likely never will. However, I do not understand why Apple is catching so much publicity for this.

    From the economist*:

    The toll (a dozen this year) is lower than the suicide rate among the general population in China. But the deaths have raised questions about working conditions in electronics manufacturing in general and in particular at Foxconn, which keeps its customers secret, rarely opens its plants to outsiders and routinely ignores press inquiries.

    What is the suicide rate at other companies? I'm truly curious. I would like to understand why everyone is up in arms about this. And what about Dell and HP and any number of other companies that also use Foxconn?

    source [economist.com]

  • by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Monday May 31, 2010 @07:32PM (#32412316) Homepage Journal

    Suicide rates vary widely between different population segments; you cannot fairly compare the suicide rate of factory workers in Shenzhen to the suicide rate of rural farmers, for example. The better comparison would be the suicide rate of Foxconn employees to the suicide rates at other electronics manufacturing, and I'd think if other factories had similar suicide rates we might not be hearing so much about this in the news.

    In a perfect and rational world, perhaps, but this world is neither. Witness how much makes news simply because it is Apple (or Nike, or whomever). This story gets play precisely because it does lob stones at Apple's glass house.

    This is like Greenpeace getting all pissy at Apple a few years back. Despite Apple being MUCH better than the industry average, Greenpeace targetted Apple, knowing it would garner more press than complaining about HP.

  • by jhylkema (545853) on Monday May 31, 2010 @08:57PM (#32412996)

    to tell us that if we just repeal all of those pesky workers' rights laws that corporations will, out of the goodness of their hearts, afford their workers such unaffordable luxuries as unpaid days off, an eight-hour day, overtime pay, a (gasp!) minimum wage, etc.

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