Apple production partner Foxconn has been tied to worker suicides in the past, but a new wrinkle emerged earlier this month. According to reports, a group of 300 Chinese employees building Xbox 360 game consoles threatened suicide by jumping off the roof of a factory.
To those of you who scoffed at Steve Wozniak when he said that machines will one day take over as superior beings, leaving us humans as the “dogs of the house,” take note: It seems Woz’ vision is very much becoming a reality for some Foxconn workers, who are set to be replaced by robots over the next three years.
Working conditions at the Foxconn factory in Shenzhen, China, have long been the center of attention. 1 million Chinese workers build electronics for Apple, HP, Nokia, Palm and Sony at the plant, some are reportedly as young as 12; having to endure long, repetitive work under notoriously harsh conditions. At last count, at least 14 Foxconn workers have committed suicide in the last 16 months.
The plant is now ordering its employees to sign an ‘anti-suicide pledge’, according to the U.K.’s Daily Mail. Under the pledge, employees must not attempt to kill themselves, and if they do, their families can only seek the minimum in damages.
It may be the New Year, but sadly, it appears that the mere turning-over of the calendar isn’t enough to put a stop to the slate of Foxconn suicides: last Friday, a female engineer leaped from her brother’s 10th floor flat to her death after being insulted by a superior, ordered to quit, then sent to a psychiatric hospital on Foxconn’s orders.
The suicide is the fifteenth so far, although the first Foxconn suicide in 2011.