Do you enjoy reading on your Kindle or wasting time on your Xbox 360? Are you browsing with your iPad or yakking on your iPhone?
When you bought them were you happy with the price?
There may be some hidden costs being paid by the people who make these products.
Foxconn, a manufacturer of circuit boards for a long list of consumer electronics companies including Apple, Microsoft and Amazon is having a bit of a problem in the human resources department. Reports are that on January 2 about three hundred workers in a Foxconn mega factory in Wuhan, China threatened to hurl themselves from the roof of a building in a mass suicide over poor pay and working conditions.
On Jan. 2, over 300 employees at a Foxconn plant in Wuhan, China threatened to throw themselves off a building in a mass suicide. Foxconn makes Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony products. These workers manufacture Xbox 360s. Kotaku
This isn’t the first time for labor relations problems at Foxconn. Fourteen workers opted for the not so golden departure without a parachute in 2010 which should have indicated that the company had bigger problems than crowded lunchrooms.
Microsoft’s Phil Spencer said at the time, “Foxconn has been an important partner of ours and remains an important partner. I trust them as a responsible company to continue to evolve their process and work relationships. That is something we remain committed to—the safe and ethical treatment of people who build our products. That’s a core value of our company.” Kotaku
Foxconn’s factories have been described in a report by 20 Chinese universities as “labor camps” and “concentration camps:
The company was described in the report as a “concentration camp of workers in the 21st century,” and all the employees are “imprisoned” in the “company empire” in order to serve the manufacturing rule of “just-in-time production.”
The students are “kidnapped” to work overtime for the company that takes advantage of a lack of laws and regulations to maximize its profits, according to the report. TeleCom Asia
Concern for the suicides caused Foxconn to install suicide prevention netting on buildings at some of its factories and higher wages were promised to the workers who were forced to sign agreements not to sue the company if they harmed themselves or committed suicide.
The higher wages didn’t materialize however hence the recent action and threatened mass suicide.
American workers should sit up and take notice.
When the circuit board factory that you that you work in installs suicide netting around the perimeter of the building to prevent employees from leaping to their deaths you probably have a weak union.
With the dismantling of labor unions, the attacks on the NLRB, continued deregulation of business and the rampant growth of corporate control of government there may soon be a net beneath your office or shop window.
I suppose a smart entrepreneur would draft a business plan and get an SBA loan to start a company called “Suicide Prevention Nets R Us” and get in on the ground floor of what may become a growth industry.