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Suicidal iPad Makers June 5, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Business, Science & Technology.
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Ask around among the more than 250,000 workers at the Shenzhen complex, and you’ll find explanations. One 21-year-old assembly-line worker, who asked that his name not be used, says conditions at Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics contract manufacturer, make his life seem meaningless. He says conversation on the production line is forbidden, bathroom breaks are kept to 10 minutes every two hours, and workers get yelled at frequently. . So far this year, 10 Foxconn workers have committed suicide.

No one disputes that Taipei-based Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai, has cultivated a tough culture. The company generates more revenue in a year than Apple, Dell, or Microsoft (MSFT). It has grown in profitable obscurity to become an industry juggernaut for a simple reason, says Pamela Gordon of Technology Forecasters, a supply-chain research firm: “It’s the prices. Their prices are lower for high-quality work.” Foxconn won Apple’s order to make the iPhone after Gou directed the business units that make components to sell parts at zero profit, according to two people familiar with the chairman’s actions. Net income jumped 37 percent in 2009 to $2.3 billion, Foxconn’s second-best year on record. Foxconn’s suicides are a reminder of the human cost that can come with the low-cost manufacturing U.S. tech companies demand.

via Why Apple and Others Are Nervous About Foxconn – BusinessWeek.

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