Foxconn employee jumps to his death in China

An employee of Foxconn Technology has committed suicide by jumping off a four-story building. The latest death marks the eighth Foxconn suicide this year.

The New York Times reports that labor rights groups have called some of the deaths “suspicious” and asked for an independent investigation of the two massive Foxconn factory sites, which supply such industry heavyweights as Apple, Dell and Hewlett-Packard.

In addition, the China-based Southern Weekly recently published a story co-written by an intern who conducted an undercover investigation into Foxconn by working at one of the Shenzhen factories for 28 days.

The story dubbed Foxconn a “typical” Chinese factory, with better facilities than other small and medium-size factories.

But the article also claimed that employees were forced to work long periods standing, sometimes for eight hours nonstop.

Meanwhile, China Labor Watch, a NYC-based human rights group, announced that it had recently surveyed worker attitudes about conditions at Foxconn in Shenzhen, with many workers complaining about the intense “pressure” they were under. 

“We are extremely tired, with tremendous pressure,” the organization quoted one worker as saying. 

“We finish one step in every seven seconds, which requires us to concentrate and keep working and working. We work faster even than the machines.”

It’s interesting to note that were Foxconn making sneakers for Wal Mart, there may have been a bigger outcry, or even a boycott. Does the fact that it makes iPhones and Dells mean that we should overlook problems that are becoming glaring, if not downright criminal?

There should be a sense of outrage, but we have failed to identify what Foxconn does with Apple, or Dell, or HP. We would have had no suck compulsion if it was Nike using a third party in Asia.

Shouldn’t Apple be feeling the heat? The deals that are made are very easy to dissect. Executives the US based computer companies know the pressure that Foxconn is under because, they write the contracts and they dictate the terms. They cannot remain above the fray.

Something is rotten at Foxconn. People are dying. It is not normal. It is not acceptable. Apple, Dell, and HP, and others of the same ilk, are just as responsible as Foxconn. We, in the US, cannot reach Foxconn directly, but we should be more forceful with our own companies.