Although Steve Jobs seems to think the Foxconn suicides are being overblown, Apple’s “all over” the problem, a new email exchange reveals.
Responding to an Apple fan who forwarded Jobs an e-mail campaign protesting the way Foxconn workers are being treated in China, Steve responded:
“Although every suicide is tragic, Foxconn’s suicide rate is well below the China average. We are all over this.”
Jobs’ dismissal of the statistical import (as opposed to the humanitarian import, which he recognizes) of the Foxconn suicides was pretty savagely eviscerated earlier this week by Dan Lyons, who wrote:
[A]rguments about national averages are a smokescreen. Sure, people kill themselves all the time. But the Foxconn people all work for the same company, in the same place, and they’re all doing it in the same way, and that way happens to be a gruesome, public way that makes a spectacle of their death. They’re not pill-takers or wrist-slitters or hangers. They’re not Sylvia Plath wannabes, sealing off the kitchen and quietly sticking their head in the oven. They’re jumpers. And jumpers, my friends, are a different breed. Ask any cop or shrink who deals with this stuff. Jumpers want to make a statement. Jumpers are trying to tell you something.
All in all, Jobs’ email seems to refute yesterday’s report that Apple would pay 1-2% of profits to Foxconn employees working on Apple’s products, effectively turning them into the world’s first free trade electronics company. Why would Apple pay millions each year to Foxconn employees when its CEO doesn’t believe there’s a real problem?