150 computer factory workers had to be talked down from a “suicide jump” in protest of lousy working conditions at the infamous Foxconn. This would not have made the news when Mao Zedong was in charge of China…
The workers were eventually coaxed down after two days on top of their three-floor plant in Wuhan by Foxconn managers and local Chinese Communist party officials.
Foxconn, which manufactures gadgets for the likes of Apple, Sony, Nintendo and HP, among many others, has had a grim history of suicides at its factories. A suicide cluster in 2010 saw 18 workers throw themselves from the tops of the company’s buildings, with 14 deaths.
In the aftermath of the suicides, Foxconn installed safety nets in some of its factories and hired counsellors to help its workers.
The latest protest began on January 2 after managers decided to move around 600 workers to a new production line, making computer cases for Acer, a Taiwanese computer company.
“We were put to work without any training, and paid piecemeal,” said one of the protesting workers, who asked not to be named. “The assembly line ran very fast and after just one morning we all had blisters and the skin on our hand was black. The factory was also really choked with dust and no one could bear it,” he said.
Several reports from inside Foxconn factories have suggested that while the company is more advanced than many of its competitors, it is run in a “military” fashion that many workers cannot cope with. At Foxconn’s flagship plant in Longhua, five per cent of its workers, or 24,000 people, quit every month.
“Because we could not cope, we went on strike,” said the worker. “It was not about the money but because we felt we had no options. At first, the managers said anyone who wanted to quit could have one month’s pay as compensation, but then they withdrew that offer. So we went to the roof and threatened a mass suicide”.
The worker said that Foxconn initially refused to negotiate, but that the workers were treated reasonably by the local police and fire service.
Isn’t that an outrageous bit of news to have escape the so-called People’s Republic?
And no, it’s not unthinkable because of freedom-hating communism and its evil press censorship. China’s not communist anymore, except maybe in name only. Foxconn is as capitalist a factory as you’ll find anywhere in the world. Or should I say, as capitalist a SWEATSHOP?
Most significantly, look who refused to negotiate — Foxconn. And who talked the strikers down? Perhaps the last real bastion of socialism in China: the police and fire department.
Foxconn is certainly no worker-run commune, and by the sounds of things, the government of China seems to have decided to look the other way on its bosses and their blatant abuses. Little wonder: It’s lucrative as all hell, serving several major foreign computer companies. Whatever happened to regulation?
If Mao’s not rolling in his grave over this, he damn well should be.
PS: My friend John has more here, plus a picture showing just how large this protest was.