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 user 2011-02-16 at 11:40:47 am Views: 57
  • #24594

    Foxconn Linked Factory Exploits Workers In OZ PC Assembly Plant
    Hewlett Packard, has been left with egg on their face after it was discovered that a factory in Sydney that is linked to the giant Foxconn Corporation in China was using what has been described as "slave labour" to pack HP hardware for Government contracts.

    According to Fairfax Media the company forced workers to wait until the night before to find out whether they had work the next day, they then subjected them to poor working conditions according to investigations. Last year Foxconn came under intense investigation after 13 workers in China attempted suicide at its plant in Shenzhen.

    After intervention by HP the company has agreed to offer their staff permanent contracts.
    The entire workforce is made up of casual employees engaged by an outside labour hire company to assemble and pack hundreds of Hewlett-Packard computers, which then go to dozens of organisations including the Department of Defence, NSW Fire Brigades and banks.Fairfax said that when the workers arrived at the factory they were often told they would only be working for four hours – barely enough to cover the cost of their travel.

    But Foxteq and labour hire company Resco – which has just taken over the previous holder of the Foxteq contract, Weststaff – have reached an agreement with the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.Foxteq workers will now vote on an agreement that offers them permanent full-time or part time status, improved working conditions, and the ability to elect union delegates.HP also use Foxconn to manufacture several HP products.

    iPad Uses Slave Labor
    Foxconn is the trade name of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., a Taiwan firm with operations in China that is arguably the largest manufacturer of electronics and computer components in the world. Almost every major company in America contracts with them: Apple, Microsoft, Motorola, Amazon, Cisco, Intel, Dell, HP, etc. and Foreign companies as well: Sony, Nintendo, Nokia, and many others.

    How does Foxxconn snag so many manufacturing contracts?

    Actually, the answer is quite simple: slavery.

    They can produce Mac minis, iPods, iPads, iPhones, motherboards, PlayStations, Wiis, Xboxes, cell phones, kindles, and routers cheaper than anyone else. To do that they require their workers to put in 11- to 12-hour shifts, six or seven days a week amid fumes and dust and constant harassment. No one can talk while working and you better have strong kidneys because restroom breaks are severely limited.

    The working conditions are so difficult that there has been a spate of worker suicides at the plant (Between Jan 2010 to May 2010, twelve Foxconn employees attempted suicide, ten succeeded), according to Bloomberg News.

    Now one would think that a big company like Foxconn would take measures to prevent such things from happening again. Perhaps better working conditions, fewer hours, better pay? They did better than that: they installed nets near worker dormitories to catch them should they jump. Now that is smart business. Spend a few hundred on nets and keep the price of manufacturing steady and cheap.

    Apple did investigate but found most of the charges baseless. Apple CEO Steve Jobs has said a number of times that Foxconn “is not a sweatshop.” Could that be because T.C. Gou, the brother of Foxconn founder Terry Gou, plans on opening 100 stores to sell Mac computers and iPod music players in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, by the end of next year?

    I am not a person opposed to outsourcing; however when the outsourced workers are actually company slaves, I believe it is time for American companies to switch to other sources and vet those sources better.It is time American consumers demanded that the products they buy be slave-free.

    A harsh light on Apple’s supply chain
    Mike Daisey’s "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" is a cry for labor reform in China it’s not going to be as easy as you might think to dismiss Mike Daisey’s message.To be sure, we’ve heard before about the harsh working conditions at Foxconn’s massive factory complex in Shenzhen, China — where an astonishing percentage of the world’s electronic gizmos, not just Apple’s (AAPL) are assembled. Fourteen suicides in one year — even in a worker population of 430,000 — are pretty hard to ignore.

    And Mike Daisey is hardly a household name. In fact, when word spread last year that he was working on a one-man show about Steve Jobs, so many tech journalists misspelled it that he felt obliged to post a corrective on his blog.

    Finally, it’s been some time since Berkeley, Calif., where Daisey’s "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" opened Sunday at the Berkeley Repertory Theater — and where audience members are being handed a sheet with the phone numbers for Apple PR and Apple Investor Relations after the show — has had the power to shape opinion on Main St. America, never mind Wall Street.

    But it would be a mistake to underestimate Daisey or the power of the meme — the mental seed — that he is planting.

    For one thing, Daisey tells a good story. A large, heavy-set guy — think Spalding Gray at something like 300 lbs. — he’s honed his dramatic voice in a career as a monologist that spans more than a dozen years. "What distinguishes him from most solo performers," a New York Times’ reviewer wrote in 2007, "is how elegantly he blends personal stories, historical digressions and philosophical ruminations. He has the curiosity of a highly literate dilettante and a preoccupation with alternative histories, secrets large and small, and the fuzzy line where truth and fiction blur."

    For another, he’s got a good story to tell. Not just the saga of Steve Jobs’ rise and fall and rise again at Apple, which, after all, has been told before. But the story of his trip to Shenzhen, China — that "Special Economic Zone" with a population 10 million that he describes as looking like Blade Runner threw up on itself.

    For unlike nearly every journalist who covered the Foxconn suicide story — and accepted Steve Jobs’ declaration last year that his beloved products are not being assembled in a sweat shop — Daisey actually went there, breathed the toxic air, and met some of the people who make our iPhones and iPads.

    In the presence of scowling guards carrying machine guns, Daisey talked to Foxconn workers who told him they were 14, 13 and 12 years old. "Do you really think that Apple doesn’t know?" he asks rhetorically.

    He met a woman who was blackballed because she dared demand her overtime pay. He showed his iPad to a worker who lost an arm hand assembling them, but who had never seen the finished product. ("It is like magic!" the man exclaimed when the screen lit up and the icons appeared.)

    Daisey is not an Apple hater. On the contrary. He’s a self-confessed geek who has been in love with technology — and Apple’s technology in particular — since childhood. "I am worshipper in the Cult of Mac," he says. (Although he confesses to have indulged in the Linux heresy.)

    His point — the message he hopes will spread like a virus — is now that he’s been to Shenzhen, he can never look at his beloved MacBook Pro, iPhone and iPad without thinking about the people who built them. People as young as 12, he says, who work 14-hour days performing tasks so mind-numbingly repetitive that when the day is over they want to go back to their high-rise dormitories and jump off the roof.

    Note to Apple PR — and Hewlett Packard’s (HPQ), Dell’s (DELL), and the rest: Daisey’s message could have legs. His breakout show — 21 Dog Years, an account of his unhappy employment at Amazon (AMZN) during the dotcom boom — played for six months off-Broadway in New York and won him an appearance on David Letterman, a BBC radio play and a book contract.

    UPDATE: I met Mike Daisey at Macworld and quizzed him at length about the points readers have raised in the comment stream. He says he made two visits to Shenzhen in late May and early June 2010, when the suicide story was at its peak, which might explain the guns he says he saw five or six guards carrying outside the main gate of Foxconn’s factory complex. He can’t swear that they were machine guns ("I don’t know guns," he admits), but he indicated with a gesture that they were guns or rifles cradled in the arms. With regard to the ages of the Foxconn workers he interviewed, he repeats that they  said they were 12 to 14 years old. "I met one 11-year-old," he says, "but I didn’t include it in the show because there was only one." With regard to the arguments about suicide rates, he points out that the only source for China’s annual suicide rates is the Chinese government. "Why would you assume they are telling the truth?" he asks. "This is a fascist country run by thugs." My impression of Mike Daisey is that he is an impassioned activist who is sincere about trying to bring about social change. He did not strike me as a liar. An earlier version of this post described a worker who lost an arm. Daisey says it was a hand, not a whole arm.