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Monday, 2 May 2011

Foxconn finds ideal solution to prevent their personnel to commit suicide: the anti-suicide clause. A story of idiocy to the third degree!

A few months ago on Februari 17th, I wrote about the inhumane working circumstances in the Foxconn factories in Shenzen and Chengdu where the iPods, iPads and iPhones for Apple are produced. Topics were the usage of hazardous chemicals without proper protection for the workers and the inhumane working conditions that led to multiple suicides of workers that couldn’t handle the pressure anymore.

Apple seemed to promise at that time –  through the publication of the Apple Supplier Responsibility 2011 Progress Report” – to dive deeper into the working conditions of the Chinese workers at the Foxconn factories. In my conclusion I was already somewhat distrusting about the results this would have for the workers and companies that did business with China:
It is good that the Chinese people now have a great chance for a better life for them and their children, but I truly hope that the price they pay for it is not too high.

And for the western companies: I was shocked to read that Adidas is considering to leave China in favor of Laos, Cambodia, India and Eastern Europe, “because the salaries, set by the Chinese government, have become too high”.
Unfortunately you should know that changes like this seldomly lead to better working conditions. Therefore I hope that people will contemplate on the brands they purchase and the brands they don’t.
Now it seems I was right to be distrusting: Today the Daily Mail (UK) writes that Foxconn found the “ideal solution” for preventing their workers from committing suicide: the
anti-suicide clause. Here are some pertinent snips of this shocking story:
Factories making sought-after Apple iPads and iPhones in China are forcing staff to sign pledges not to commit suicide, an investigation has revealed. 

At least 14 workers at Foxconn factories in China have killed themselves in the last 16 months as a result of horrendous working conditions.

Many more are believed to have either survived attempts or been stopped before trying at the Apple supplier's plants in Chengdu or Shenzen.
Appalling conditions: An investigation by two NGOs has found new workers at Foxconn factories in China are made to sign a 'no suicide' pledge
After a spate of suicides last year, managers at the factories ordered new staff to sign pledges that they would not attempt to kill themselves, according to researchers.
And they were made to promise that if they did, their families would only seek the legal minimum in damages.
An investigation of the 500,000 workers by the Centre for Research on Multinational Companies and Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (Sacom) found appalling conditions in the factories.
They claimed that:
    • Excessive overtime was rife, despite a legal limit of 36 hours a month. One payslip showed a worker did 98 hours of overtime in one month, the Observer reported.
    • During peak periods of demand for the iPad, workers were made to take only one day off in 13.
    • Badly performing workers were humiliated in front of colleagues.
    • Workers are banned from talking and are made to stand up for their 12-hour shifts.
Grim: Netting has been put up outside worker dormitories buildings in Chengdu and Shenzhen after a spate of suicides last year
The 'anti-suicide pledge' was brought in after sociologists wrote an open letter to the media calling for an end to restrictive working practices.
But the investigation revealed many of the workers still lived in dismal conditions, with some only going home to see family once a year.
One worker told the newspaper: 'Sometimes my roommates cry when they arrive in the dormitory after a long day.'
She said they were made to work illegally long hours for a basic daily wage, as little as £5.20, and that workers were housed in dormitories of up to 24 people a room.
In Chengdu, working between 60 and 80 hours overtime a month was normal, with many breaching Apple's own code of conduct with the length of their shifts.
And the investigation found that employees claimed they were not allowed to speak to each other.

The whole story is an absolute must-read and it shows that when the ‘Foxconn’ preacheth, then still beware your geese.

And as far as Apple concerned? I don’t know if the company knows about Foxconn’s anti-suicide clause?!

But I do know: they should know it! And they can’t wash their hands clean of this anymore! 

Take this into consideration when you buy your next smartphone or tablet computer or when you invest your money in shares. Common knowledge of crimes against humans can make common guilt. That is how it this, whether you like it or not!

1 comment:

  1. This phenomenon is known as the ‘Race to the Bottom’. This is a world wide competition in which production is continuously moved to the country with the lowest production costs. The only economic criterion is that the employees don’t actually die on you, so you provide them with shelter and 1800 calories a day. One would be hard pressed to point out the difference between these living conditions, and those encountered in the days of slavery.