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Riot Breaks Out At Foxconn 456

Presto Vivace writes with news (as reported by Engadget) of a riot at Foxconn's Taiyuan plant, reportedly over guards beating up a worker, and writes "Something is going on at Foxconn. Do any Slashdotters know of a good source for news about Chinese labor disputes?" Reports of the riot are also at Reuters, TUAW, and CNBC, to name a few.
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Riot Breaks Out At Foxconn

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  • How Much (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @11:25PM (#41433087)

    Makes me wonder how much an iPhone would cost to manufacture in the U.S. I wonder how automated the production line could be.

  • by Brannon ( 221550 ) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @11:28PM (#41433101)

    Western countries starting buying products made there?

    Maybe the Western countries aren't the problem. Maybe China is the problem.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23, 2012 @11:53PM (#41433271)

    Not China per se, but the situation they're in. They're still in the industrial revolution, which is notorious for few worker rights not only in China but everywhere else. Despite its problems, it's a necessary step they cannot avoid, not unless they plan on going back to the feudal age (which won't happen). Give China ten years and I'm sure things won't be so bad for their workers, although their industry will take a hit and start moving, perphaps to India if they manage to fix their problems by then.

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @11:54PM (#41433279)

    Sounds like old days in USA where workers faced the same work conditions.

    They need real workers rights fast or soon the workers may just burn the factory down.

  • The truth is (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jsse ( 254124 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @12:16AM (#41433407) Homepage Journal
    "a fight among workers from different production lines,"

    From the local news "" Translation: Foxconn security started the fight, which triggered riots in Shandong and Henan.

    How could this become "a fight among workers" in international news I wondered.

    The only thing international news coverage is correctly accounted for is that the root cause is still a mystery, but we would imagine it should be more along the line of suppression under high working pressure.
  • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @02:01AM (#41433803) Journal
    First riot, with a good attitude back to your village with no pension - many many years later. Your extended family is watched, no promotions.
    Second riot, you have contact with outside NGO, CIA, MI6.... the questions start and never stop.
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @02:31AM (#41433901)

    This has nothing to do with a "communist dictatorship" ...

    Only too true.

    There is a strange irony to the fact that these abuses arise from a combination of the kind of corruption typical of pre-Communist China and unfettered Western-style Capitalism. And hasn't it always been one of the criticisms of Communism, that it stifles progress because nobody feel an incentive to work hard, when the state takes care of you even you are lazy to the bone?

    Some Americans in particular imagine that nobody could possibly feel genuinely happy with life under Communism. Well, apart from the "47% that feel they are victims", but they don't count, since they are "plebs", to quote one Tory MP. On that background it is strange that so many of those that sympathise with Socialism are well-educated high-achievers, while so many of the most conservative and reactionary are found amongst those with little or no education.

  • by sethstorm ( 512897 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @03:16AM (#41434057) Homepage

    2. Communism and Dictatorship are mutually exclusive (at least in theory).

    In implementation, they end up one and the same. See the USSR, Venezuela, Cuba, and post-WWII China.

    3. China doesn't have the best human rights record, but they don't exactly have anywhere near the worst one either. The US isn't any saint either:
            * The US set up Guantanamo Bay to purposely get around constitutionally guaranteed rights when they were inconvenient.

    I see your GITMO and raise you one Tiananmen Square Massacre. In order to put down the event, the CPC brought in military from the countryside to guarantee enforcement of orders. In addition, involvement meant that you would be completely disappeared.

    With GITMO and other places, you're not completely removed from existence as deeply as performed in China. Never mind that GITMO treats its detainees quite well compared to China's equivalent - to the point where detained Uighurs are not sent home to China.

    In addition, the United States does not have closed regions like Tibet that restrict foreigners from entry.

    * The white people who settled in the US basically killed all of the existing red people.

    Then you might explain the flood of Han Chinese in Tibet - the same region that has excluded foreigners for purely political reasons.
    In addition, the monks get the same treatment if not worse by CPC policies(as implemented, not as written).

    * Privacy as a right went out the window a while ago with all the warrant-less wiretaps, GPS vehicle tracking, etc.
            * From my understanding, anyone can be detained without trial or attorney, as long as they are classified as a "terrorist".

    It takes a LOT more effort to fall foul of those provisions in the US. As for China, you can just tell a bad joke about a government official and you are gone. Even high-up officials like Bo Xilai are not immune to such provisions - even if their family has favor.

    In China, there would be no equivalent to the Tea Party or Breitbart that survives in the open.

    * The "Child labor" that bleeding hearts in the US complain about was considered normal and routine in the US not all that long ago, and is still considered
    normal and even desired in many countries overseas.

    Those practices refer to a society that willfully forsakes freedom for all. 50 years will pass and China will still be as despotic towards its workers in deference to its little princes that run their factories like fiefdoms.

    The closest I know is some domestic model Sony Vaio models (the most expensive ones) are supposedly 100% "made in Japan" - even those will probably have at least some parts from Taiwan, Korea, etc.

    With IBM, some machines do have an order code for a US-friendly setup. That is, the machine will be made from parts that would pass muster with the DoD as being from the US and close allies with the US - China not being one of them. At one time, this also included US assembly of laptops for government contracts but is primarily for their midrange machines.

  • by tftp ( 111690 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @03:17AM (#41434061) Homepage

    The biggest problem is that at this level of assembly you have to account for variations in parts. Just try to use a robot to snap a clamshell. A human will apply the right amount of force where it is needed, and he will immediately see if something goes wrong. The vast majority of consumer electronics is not designed for easy assembly; they are designed for low cost, and as result half of the assembly is on glue, another half is snaps, and yet another half is all sorts of tiny special screws. You have to keep fragile flex connectors plugged correctly, you have to check that no wires are sticking out, you have to make sure that all 17 pieces of the puzzle are in before you put the last one on top.

    Robots are very good with pick and place because these operations require minimal feedback. Once your activity starts depending on the feedback the first thing you need to develop is fingers with a good number of pressure sensors and with fine motors that can drive those fingers just like human hands do. Those robots will cost you more than the peanuts that a Chinese worker costs you today. There are only a few experimental fingers that are getting close to what is needed.

    It's certainly possible to design for robotic FA&T, just as through hole PCBs were replaced with surface mounted parts. However this will impact the end product. It will be hard to make enclosures that look like solid pieces of material, with no seams or with no obvious means to open and close them. You would have to give up on technologies that only humans can do efficiently (like mating of small connectors.) You would want the assembly to consist of very few basic moves, with blind mates for all parts and with easy means to check that the mating is complete.

    I don't want to sound like automation of the final assembly is impossible. I only want to mention that it is not a simple replacement of the worker with a robot.

    On top of that, imagine that 1000 factory owners own all factories in the country and they need no workers. Owners still want money to pay for the raw materials, for the investments into robots, and for their wear and replacement, and for taxes, and for their own profits. Who is going to come up with the money to buy their goods if hardly anyone in the whole country is employed? The current thinking [wikipedia.org] centers around the government becoming the center of ownership of robotic factories and of distribution of their products. IMO, this only changes one boss for another boss; even worse, you can never leave the new boss.

  • by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @03:41AM (#41434127)
    There is a big difference in design for automation and design for hand assembly. One important factor is that design for automation involves eliminating fiddly assembly - things that have to slot into things at an angle and then be rotated into place, for instance. Before cheap manufacturing abroad, Japanese watch and camera manufacture became highly automated, but then a lot of designs were changed for hand assembly.

    I think the answer is you could pretty well 100% automate phone assembly and packing if you had the right design. The downside would be that repairability might be low (it's easier to dispense glue than insert screws) and the design might be more constrained. The cost of the equipment would vary according to the complexity of the final assembly and the expected volumes, but we are probably talking in the 1-10 million dollar range for an assembly system. Re-tooling is the expensive part. Ideally you want to decide on a form factor and stick to it until the tooling wore out, which is the most economical approach. But the basics of an assembly machine - pick and place, automatic screwdrivers, robot arms- would stay pretty constant.

    Which is cheaper? The short answer is that in the long run automatic assembly will be cheaper again, it is just a question of when. Every Chinese riot brings that day a little closer.

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @03:51AM (#41434165)

    The robotic automated control systems are typically shit, but that doesn't mean it's not doable, it just means that mechanical and electrical engineers should not write robotic control systems, they should leave it to software engineers. In other words, it's the same problem that the Diamond Viper video cards had back in the day when they let EE's write the video BIOS, instead of hiring a software engineer to do it.

    I recently spent some quality time programming a Toshiba CA10-M00 controller interfaced robot for the purposes of doing testing on capacitive touch devices, such as trackpads, and the programming interface at the lowest level was, to put it bluntly, incredibly badly designed. The one saving grace was "palletizing" mode, and all that let you do was do things like fill columns in a biological sample tray while moving the pallet on which it was situated over one row at a time, and then repeating the previous instruction.

    In any case, the controller was pretty terrible, very limited in capability, and only capable of controlling 4 degrees of freedom without being ganged to another controller for the next 4 degrees of freedom; even then; you'd want to install optional interface modules to use for step-signalling between the controllers, rather than ganging them, based on the limited number of steps available under the control of a single controller, and the inability to do anything remotely useful in only 1000 steps (with 4 degrees of freedom, 1000 steps was pushing rationality as it was).

    As delivered, the hardware didn't actually function (had to send it back once to have a servo replaced), and when driven from other than the EEPROM, the command language is insufficiently rich to perform motion on more than a single axis at a time (which basically meant writing a program to write a program, rather than controlling it directly). Additionally, the plat was oriented incorrectly, and there were no registration marks on any of the manual adjustments, and the robot was not set up to be capable of non-2-d self interference (read: if incorrectly programmed, it could beat itself to death).

    To top all this joy off, they very much expected you to use a "teaching pendant" to do a single static program, and I had to reverse engineer how to talk to the thing with a documented list of serial functions, with no documentation of order or the requirements for baseline settings.

    All in all, to get a suite of repeatable test motions that could be applied to multiple devices with different form-factors required some fairly clever hackery. What I ended up with was a library of code that could be used to write a program that could program the robot. The most interesting of those are not in the public repository, but the rest of the code is here: http://git.chromium.org/gitweb/?p=chromiumos/platform/touchbot.git;a=tree [chromium.org]

    The bottom line is that by using meta-programming, instead of using the default crap interface you get by applying teaching-pendant programming, it'd be pretty trivial to change over the location of a screw, or even radically alter the layout.

    And just practically speaking, fetching a screw is a subroutine, putting in a screw is a subroutine, and where to put the screw in is a point in the X,Y,Z,R point table, if you wrote your code correctly in the first place, which you'd be unlikely to do if using the teaching pendant, but which was still technically possible using one. Which'd mean just rewriting the point table after issuing a region erase command to the robot controller over an RS232C link, after jamming the robot into a receptive mode with 5 other command would move the screw.

    But doing the metaprogramming approach, it'd also be possible to radically alter the robot behaviour pretty trivially and be up and running on the real assembly line once you got your test line working correctly to the new model.

    Which is to say, the argument that you can't as trivially recon

  • by tuppe666 ( 904118 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @04:08AM (#41434221)

    Major customers of Foxconn currently include:
      You don't care about these workers, you are only bothered with your Apple hate so that you even ignore the facts. Only on slashdot this can be modded up. Sickening !

    What is sickening!! you have posted a list of companies that use these workers without bothering with a good list like Samsung have manufacturing plants in America, and Goggle famously left China for ethical reasons and introduced a new Nexus product made in America. I think its time you stopped queuing for the iPhone 5 and wend and bought a Samsung Galaxy III.

  • by tbird81 ( 946205 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @04:58AM (#41434389)

    Yep, SuperKendall, BasilBrush, and a few others are there to try to eliminate adverse talk about Apple Corp.

    I don't know why, but I assume they work for them. I can't really see why they'd die in a ditch defending Apple's relentless unethical and stupid decisions if they were only fans.

    I guess there's more to Apple marketing than black turtle necks, rounded corners and misleading ads.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @05:17AM (#41434469)

    China should actually be the shining example of capitalism. A government that supports the creation of companies, while pretty much outlawing any and all labor unions and worker organisation, a bare minimum of worker protection (afaik you can't simply kill them if you don't like them anymore), no interference with your hiring, firing, paying or worker treatment policies...

    And STILL we're not happy. What more could we possibly want them to do to be good capitalists?

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by makomk ( 752139 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @07:08AM (#41434893) Journal

    Ah, this tactic [derailingfordummies.com]. The nice thing about this particular bullshit derailing tactic is that there's always someone else who's worse off, so you can use it to effectively stonewall any discussion of any social problem and make sure nothing gets done about any of them. The other nice thing is that - by definition - anyone who can actually talk about their problems is better off than someone who can't, so you can use it to stop anyone talking about issues that affect them.

    It's a very convenient way of looking like you care about the poor, the disenfranchised, ... whilst you're actually making sure that nothing gets done to help them. Not very imaginative though; been done before a billion times.

  • Why arent more linux people promoting OSM.

    The agony of trying to get the OSM data and a useful app into my computer. I'll promote it when I figure out how to use it. Playing with gpsdrive on R-Pi lately, ugh.

  • by Troy Roberts ( 4682 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @11:08AM (#41437141)

    I wonder why in many examples of capitalism, all markets are free except labor. If a nation is truly based on capitalist ideas, why not have a market for labor. In this case workers could band together and sell their labor to the highest bidder. For some reason, this is never considered a part of capitalism, which I believe is just a convenient inconsistency by the rich.

    Because China does not have a free labor market, it is not a shining example of capitalism. It is a shining example of the powerful taking advantage, which happens everywhere.

Federal grants are offered for... research into the recreation potential of interplanetary space travel for the culturally disadvantaged.