The iPad went on sale on 3 April In June, Apple announced that it sold 3 million iPads in the 80 days after its introduction in the United States. In outsourcing production, Apple is the most profitable of the top technology firms. Buyers of Foxconn products want their iPhones and computers manufactured fast to meet global demand. For example, Apple is trying to get its white models of iPhone 4 out to the market without delay, while keeping up with the availability of black models. The electronics parts and components are assembled quickly as they move up the hour non-stop conveyor belts.
Foxconn benefits from both the influx of big-volume orders and the hard work of young migrant laborers. However, its profit is not at all comparable to that of top brands. In other words, Foxconn has set its maximum base wages at the local minimum wage standard.
But how much did workers actually earn? The basic salary is yuan, which is the local compulsory minimum wage for a normal working month of In this example, 60 percent of the monthly total wage is from doing overtime work. The worker is not in the minority at Foxconn.
What is the price of a human body? They laid flowers for the 10 dead Foxconn workers. Photo credit: Wang Hao-zhong At the root-cause level, global brands such as Apple pressure suppliers like Foxconn to compete against each other on price, quality, and delivery.
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To secure contracts, Foxconn minimizes costs, and transfers the pressure of low profit margins to frontline workers. The pressure to keep up with new, competitively priced orders forces Foxconn workers to new levels of exhaustion. Foxconn employees experience long hours of repetitive work for very low income. They submit to management scrutiny on the job, and their low income and limited free time restricts their options outside of work.
Many young men and women workers rarely stop working except to eat and sleep, simply to make ends meet. The result is a community of people under intense stress with few resources, a situation conducive to depression.
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Taiwan unions and labor activists unfurl white banners to mourn the Young Foxconn workers in a protest against Hon Hai on 28 May , Taipei. Left For wealth and power— physical and mental health spent, hopes lost Right For profit of the brand—youth spent, dreams shattered. Photo credit to Wang Hao-zhong The record number of suicides, said Foxconn, was not related to its management style, working conditions, or wage policies. After the attempted suicide on 27 May, Foxconn began to install 3,, square meters of safety nets between dormitory buildings to prevent employees from killing themselves by jumping off the rooftop.
Management claimed the deaths were primarily related to the immaturity and fragile state of mind of the young rural migrants. Management has hired more than 1, security guards to keep internal order in the Foxconn Longhua plant no littering, no jay-walking, and so on and prevent unauthorized persons from entering sensitive areas. Every factory building and dormitory has security checkpoints with guards standing by 24 hours a day. All employees, whether they are going to the toilet or going to eat, must be checked.
Workers swipe electronic staff cards at the gates, while outsiders such as truck drivers leave their fingerprints on recognition scanners. Body searches are not uncommon. Men reportedly must take off belts with metal buckles and women their wired bras before they can pass the electronic security systems.
Reports from official and media sources about detention, abuse, and use of violence by company security personnel are numerous. He jumped from the 12 th floor of his apartment building to his death. Foxconn issued a statement: He was allegedly beaten and humiliated.
The Stream Runs Fast: My Own Story
The location this time was Beijing, a main assembly site for Nokia and Motorola mobile phones. Commentators, referring to online videos about the fight and worker interviews, held that physical and verbal violence is systemic in Foxconn system.
In the name of keeping strict confidentiality for its buyers like Apple, Nokia, and Motorola, Foxconn retains a veritable army of private security officers. Foxconn workers are watched on or off the production line. The posts and posts new generation of migrant workers have higher expectations of life than their elders, and feel greater disappointment and resentment at their failures. Li was born in in a poverty-stricken village in Hunan province. His rural family of four had contracted a tiny farm of only three- mu , just half an acre.
His cousin told him that he could make money by working at Foxconn. Selling a motorbike for yuan to buy a train ticket, he traveled to the southern metropolis. His suicide note continues:. Li, a fresh school graduate, became disillusioned with the Foxconn way of life. Coming from the countryside, he found fitting into the robotic assembling process, at high speed and to a precision measured down to the second, most difficult.
Feeling unable to go back home, he ended his life in the early morning. Shenzhen city did not turn out to be his dreamland of opportunities. As a university graduate, Lu, got a starting base pay rate of 2, yuan, more than double that of line workers. During his eight months of work, he managed to remit home more than 13, yuan, all by doing excessive overtime work.
I came to this company for money. In the first step of my adult life, I took the wrong path. Lu was assigned to the production department, not his preferred research and development unit. In April , he was working everyday until 9 p. According to Chinese law, normal working hours should not exceed 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week Article 3 of State Council Rules on Working Hours and overtime should not exceed 3 hours a day Article 41 of Labor Law.
Lu saw no hope for himself or prospects for the future. Another online post dated 14 March reads: Youth flies away. The 24 years of me, can I still do it? Lu loved music and wanted to be a professional singer. He even took part in the company singing contest and won second prize. But in reality he was responsible for monotonous tasks in the assembly workshop. By early May he was on the verge of a breakdown.
He said he was going to look at the scenery and right after he finished his sentence, he quickly opened the window and jumped onto the balcony, then jumped off from the balcony. He never hesitated. I tried to grab him, but only pulled the clothes on his left arm, he threw my hand off.
If he failed to monitor the high quality of finished products, every worker in the same production department and he himself would be punished. The younger generation of better-educated migrant workers wants a new life but they see no prospect in toiling day and night on the standardized assembly lines. They face a huge discrepancy between soaring expectations and the harsh reality of factory lives. A friend told of her big dreams of success as a super model: Her aspiration was to travel abroad to study. All the glamour had dissipated from her young life. Workers-of-rural-origins are marginalized and excluded materially and culturally.