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Chinese Worker Suicides Mount

Chinese Worker Suicides Mount

Courtesy of Tim Iacono at The Mess That Greenspan Made

Chinese women fan dance outside Apple store in Beijing

It’s not clear exactly what one should think about the recent spate of suicides at the giant Hon Hai Precision Manufacturing facility in Shenzhen, China, the eighth such incident so far this year occurring just days ago, the third in just the last two weeks.

Also known as Foxconn Technology Group, the company is a contract manufacturing house that makes iPhones and iPads. The Wall Street Journal ran this story($) yesterday in which they provided this detail about how massive the complex is.

The eight who died this year worked at Hon Hai’s Longhua plant, a sprawling, walled facility of factory buildings, dormitories restaurants and recreational facilities set amid city streets on the outskirts of Shenzhen, a manufacturing boomtown. The Longhua facility employs about 400,00 workers—roughly equivalent to the population of Oakland, Calif., and about half of Hon Hai’s total work force in China.

The facility in places resembles a university campus, with a movie theater, book store and giant cafeterias as well as its own hospital and fire station. But life for the employees, the vast majority of whom are in their late teens or early 20s, is arduous. Staffers can work 10 or more hours a day, often volunteering for overtime because it pays better. Much of the work entails highly repetitive, assembly-line tasks.

In many ways, this sounds like early-1900s U.S. steel mills before unions grew in power.

In more recent news, Xinhua reported that the most recent death was confirmed as a suicide, citing failed romance and gambling losses as possible reasons, and this item at m&c noted that the company held emergency meetings yesterday to address the problem which they have yet to formally comment on.

You can read the full WSJ article by doing a google search on the title "Another Hon Hai Worker Dies in Fall" - a back door way to read WSJ articles. However, if I give you the url, it transforms to a page with just the beginning, i.e., you need to do your own google search. - Ilene


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