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05/26/2010 04:55 PM ID: 84249 Permalink   

Manufacturer for Apple, HP, Dell Asks Workers to Promise Not to Kill Themselves After Nine Suicides in a Year


Foxconn, a company that manufactures electronics for IT heavyweights such as HP, Apple, and Dell, has ordered factory workers to sign a letter agreeing not to harm themselves and agreeing to be institutionalised if they appear in an abnormal state.

The move comes after a ninth factory worker committed suicide within a twelve month period. The company has also installed nets and is patrolling the roofs of factories.

Workers at the plants say they work long hours under harsh conditions. Nonetheless, the factories receive thousands of applicants daily. Some of the workers are refusing to sign, fearing they could be institutionalised for standing up to a superior.

    WebReporter: ixuzus Show Calling Card      
ASSESS this news: BLOCK this news. Reason:
In other words, instead of improving working conditions, which would probably bite into profits; they´d rather get the overworked/mistreated employees to agree not to kill themselves, which of course costs them nothing. Most likely all in the name of PR, after all if your employees are killing themselves, it´s got to make the company look bad. Capitalism at its finest.
  by: StarShadow     05/26/2010 05:16 PM     
What? How would this be good for PR?

And what would this do? How can they contract someone to NOT kill themselves? What happens if they break contract?
  by: nimira     05/26/2010 06:44 PM     
It´s only good for PR in the sense that employee suicides are bad PR, and only if people don´t know about this attempt by the company.

@story: I always feel compelled to point out that there are a lot of people who call situations like this "freedom."
  by: Ben_Reilly     05/26/2010 07:12 PM     
  Will not be long before..  
other corporations follow these actions.
  by: vhan     05/26/2010 08:09 PM     
  When is enough, .... enough...  
"Capitalism at it´s finest."

Obviously, that was meant as a joke; however, ... we should really look at this issue more deeply.

Capitalism USED TO BE a great thing. Back when employers treated every employee as if they were family, respected the hard work they put in day-in and day-out. But over the years, corporations have traded a great labor force of loyal employees for nothing more than a "bottom line," and a chance to compete with their neighbors for which exec makes the most money.

Meanwhile, we continue to outsource jobs to other countries where employees can be treated like cattle.

In the U.S. conservatives (the hard right) claim that if you work hard at any job and continue your education, you can achieve anything, ... start your own business, etc...) The real truth in these other countries proves what would become of America if we continued to allow capitalism to "control" America. (I´m not talking about Republicans. I´m talking about the corporate entities who´s woven their way into politicians pockets. (On both sides.))

These people can´t afford to continue their education. They´re barely paid enough to survive in general.

Walmart employees in that region have to live in dorms "on campus" where they work, because Walmart doesn´t pay them enough to live anywhere else. And they pay a large percentage of their wages back to walmart for the dorms. Many of those employees work 80-100 hours a week just to send a few dollars (US) to their families each week.

We are always talking about how were going to stop slave-labor and sweat-shops, ... meanwhile, large capitalist corporations are taking advantage of anyone they can, ... even if they have to do it halfway around the world!!

Many of the hard right republicans I know look at all of this and say "I don´t see the problem. If they don´t like it, they should look for work elsewhere.." They don´t seem to see that in places like these, there aren´t any jobs. That´s why even with people killing themselves at the workplace, people are still standing in line lookin for jobs.... They have nowhere else to turn...

Grrrr.. I´m in a "fit" over here! :-(
  by: jeffillinois   05/26/2010 08:47 PM     
Family? When did that happen?
  by: Rv3   05/26/2010 09:21 PM     
Don´t forge
  by: vhan     05/26/2010 10:39 PM     
Using a cell it didn´t put all my txt in. nvm
  by: vhan     05/26/2010 11:33 PM     
Star: The scenario in this article is not capitalism, it is corporatism or perhaps aristocracy.... at its finest. In a truly capitalist or free market, this sort of business practice would be disincentivised by a strong government that had the backbone to prosecute rich executives for their mistreatment of workers just as it prosecutes "workers" for violating the rights of others.
Sadly, both in China and in the US, government is owned lock stock and barrel by the very richest and most inhumane of monsters whom I am far more comfortable calling tyrants than businessmen.

Ben: You are correct. I won´t say their names but one of them has the initials "Rush Limbaugh"... and of course the initials George Bush, Dick Cheney, Ronald Reagan, David Lesar, Rex Tillerson, Tony Hayward, Kenneth Lay, Steve Jobs and Dennis Kozlowski come to mind. Of course, not all capitalists and not even all rich capitalists are enemies of the common man. Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are two of the richest men in the world and to my knowledge neither of them has been accused or convicted of crimes against the rights of workers. John Mackey is another rich man who comes to mind as a capitalist who cares for his employees. There are others, as you know, but I think my point is made.

jeff: Take heart my friend, there are still millions of small businesses in this country whose owners take care of their employees as if they were family. That´s one of the things people tend to forget when someone goes on a rant against capitalism and only a few or a few dozen evil corporations are mentioned as the norm for free markets. The truth is that there are millions of small corporations in this country who truly represent the ethics of capitalism. Suffice it to say, those same small corporations employ far more people than all the evil corporations our government is sleeping with combined.

  by: bbeljefe     05/27/2010 05:22 AM     
You guys need to understand what´s going on here. The environment that the workers are in is fine. The suicides are financially motivated. When a worker commits suicide there the family is compensated with about 8.5 years worth of their salary. When the family is in dire financial straights that is a quick fix. I also wouldn´t try to translate their views of suicide into our views. Just look at the Japanese traditional view of suicide for comparison.
  by: fiebre   05/28/2010 03:23 PM     
Forgot to add that by signing the form they are forfeiting the reimbursement that they would otherwise get for the death. This is supposed to be the deterent to further suicides.
  by: fiebre   05/28/2010 03:26 PM     
Citation please.
  by: StarShadow     05/28/2010 03:51 PM     
  by: fiebre   05/28/2010 05:56 PM     
There´s nothing "fine" about that work environment. As your own source points out, this is the same factory where it´s not uncommon for guards to beat the employees, including a recorded incident of two employees being set upon by 20 guards (

It´s amazing that anybody could look at the conditions in which people commit suicide in order to provide for their families and deem them "fine." Most people think of providing for their families as entailing becoming qualified for a position and beginning a career -- not jumping off the roof of their workplace.
  by: Ben_Reilly     05/28/2010 06:21 PM     
I have to disagree with your conclusion. First off Foxconn is well know for having a bad, possibly toxic, work environment. Therefore your assertion that the environment is fine and it´s all about money, rings hollow to me. Secondly, the company is not obliged to pay anything, as the story you linked to points out, suicide is not a workplace injury. Lastly, in relation to my first point, the story points out that the employees who jumped were depressed, hardly the hallmark of a "fine´ workplace environment.
  by: StarShadow     05/28/2010 06:27 PM     
Maybe I was too generous by calling it fine, but I still don´t see it as being the main cause of the suicides. Also you´re comparing a living wage to basically winning a small lottery. You can provide for them with your wages there, but if you want to make your family relatively well off you can kill yourself. Depends on the person´s inclination and their specific values. But out of 300k employees there only 11 have decided it to be worth it. I would say given the monetary incentive that isn´t too bad.
  by: fiebre   05/28/2010 06:40 PM     
Reread the end of the article, it says that under current law it has to pay 110,000 yuan in compensation for an employee death. Also depression is likely part of it, but absolutely not the complete picture.
  by: fiebre   05/28/2010 06:42 PM     
It does not say that. The payments are voluntary.

Middle of the story: "The letter said that if workers committed suicide, they would receive the minimum compensation that is stipulated by Chinese law. One lawyer tells me that this is nil (suicide is not a workplace injury, so the company is not responsible, although in practice, companies do tend to pay some compensation)."

According to that statement, I would conclude the payments are traditional because they certainly aren´t mandated by law.
  by: StarShadow     05/28/2010 08:34 PM     
Do you really think it´s normal for people to *kill themselves* in the hopes of winning a little financial security for their families?

Most people would rather work -- that way, they get to live, you know?
  by: Ben_Reilly     05/28/2010 09:43 PM     
Suicide in these countries is not thought of the same as here. If a chinese worker is willing to work in hell for a few dollars to send home, why wouldn´t they want to off themselves if they thought they could give their parents more?
It may sound backwards to us but it isn´t to them, they kill themselves for getting bad grades or dishonoring their parents, thats how it is.
  by: skittlesloli   05/28/2010 11:55 PM     
  What does the contract actually mean?  
If a company causes a high percentage of it´s employees to get Asbestosis - do force yours workers resign and join the army as an IED defuser when they contract the disease?
  by: redstain   05/29/2010 02:53 PM     
I don´t think it´s as different as you suggest. We have people here who kill themselves because they lost their job, or because their stocks took a plunge, or their spouse left them, etc.

It all goes back to hopelessness. The thought that the only thing you can do to help your family is to off yourself is pretty depressing, isn´t it? The factory creates that environment. The company is to blame.
  by: Ben_Reilly     05/29/2010 05:50 PM     
  @Star, Ben  
I may have extrapolated on the law issue as they needed their workers to sign a form to give up their rights to reimbursement. Something else must be going on if the Chinese law isn´t part of it.

I think it´s just as different as he suggests. A lot of Asian culture sees suicide as a responsibility and not something so horrible as we see it. Individuality isn´t universal.
  by: fiebre   05/29/2010 09:27 PM     
I agree.

going deeper to that, the idea behind killing yourself due to failure, is in fact darwinism.

and making this public, might actually decrease the amount of applications they get, which is the leverage the management is using. they´re saying "if you think its bad? you want to make a union and strike? we´ll fire you all and get new workers, see how many applications we get?

well. now it might not be that way when they point to the heeping pile of applications and its only one or two pieces of paper.
  by: TheDeeder   06/01/2010 12:35 AM     
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