Foxconn Tragedy Underscores Labor Violations, Lack of Respect

Sun Danyong’s July 16 death at the Foxconn factory is truly a tragedy. While police, Foxconn and Apple struggle to uncover the details of this suspicious suicide, China Labor Watch raises concern over another, on-going tragedy: Foxconn’s inhumane and militant management system which lacks fundamental respect for workers’ rights.

In response to Sun Danyong’s death Foxconn issued a statement that it “welcomes public discussion on how to help Foxconn’s management where it is lacking .” CLW has reasonable concern that this is an empty promise. Last year, CLW published an in-depth investigation of Foxconn, revealing serious labor violations including excessive working hours, unpaid wages for up to 30 minutes of work each day, compulsory overtime and extremely poor dormitory conditions. Foxconn did not respond to these allegations. Read the report here.

Workers bear the burden of Foxconn’s impressive growth. They are housed in converted workshops with hundreds of workers per room and where theft is common. Worker training focuses not on skills or safety but on factory rules and the importance of obedience; one worker described it as “brainwashing”. Management frequently insults workers. Only workers producing for Apple are given a stool to sit while working, and all others must stand. Finally, if workers do not complete the required orders within working hours, they must continue working without pay until all orders are completed.

One worker described working at Foxconn as “dehumanizing”. In the wake of Sun Danyong’s death, other Foxconn workers have spoken out about violence at the factory including beatings with iron bars and whips (this comment was posted online by a worker of four and a half years, online here). Nor was Sun Danyong’s death the first suicide at Foxconn factory, where workers face overwhelming labor violations and high-pressure work.

CLW urges Foxconn and all its clients to improve conditions at the factory, and treat workers there with the respect and dignity they deserve.

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