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Chinese iPad Factory Staff Forced To Sign 'No Suicide' Pledge 537

Posted by samzenpus
from the and-you-thought-your-job-was-tedious dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Employees at Foxconn facilities in China, used to manufacture the iPhone and iPad, were forced to sign a pledge not to commit suicide after over a dozen staff killed themselves over the last 16 months. The revelation is the latest in a series of findings about the treatment of workers at Foxconn plants, where staff often work six 12-hour shifts a week, 98 hours of overtime in a month, and live in dormitories that look and feel like prison blocks."

*

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Chinese iPad Factory Staff Forced To Sign 'No Suicide' Pledge

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  • Pffft (Score:2, Insightful)

    by proverbialcow (177020)
    Good luck enforcing it.
    • Re:Pffft (Score:5, Informative)

      by mrxak (727974) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @04:56PM (#36028660)

      FTFA: "And they were made to promise that if they did, their families would only seek the legal minimum in damages."

      So, there is some form of enforcement after all. The legality of this, I couldn't say.

      • Re:Pffft (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @05:01PM (#36028738)

        The legality of this, I couldn't say.

        I'm sure China doesn't give a fuck. If they did, requiring an employee to work 70 hours a week for $10 a day and share living space with two dozen other employees wouldn't be legal in the first place.

        • Re:Pffft (Score:4, Insightful)

          by cdrguru (88047) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @07:21PM (#36030276) Homepage

          Why wouldn't it be legal? After all, it is about 1000 times better than folks living on the factory farms have it where it is 12 hours of work for a handful of rice.

          The rural folks in China have it really, really bad and they are even more motivated to move to the city than the folks in Mexico are to come to the US. After all, in Mexico you might get $2 for a day's work and have your own shack. People are quite willing to cross the desert with signs that pretty much say "If you continue you will die" because they can make $50 a day and feed their entire family on one person's wages.

          In China a little thing like suicide isn't going to deter them in the slightest. I suspect as long as they aren't hit by falling bodies they are perfectly OK with a 1% chance they might really want to commit suicide if they take a crappy job.

          • Why wouldn't it be legal?

            I apologize for being Captain Obvious here, but it's not legal because it's illegal - which is to say, Chinese law mandates 40-hour day, and all businesses officially comply.

        • by jrumney (197329)
          Given that the going rate in Southern China for electronics factory work is about $6 per day, the company dorm is probably more comfortable than the rural shack they were raised in, and these people are away from home in an area where they have no social connections outside work with the objective to save as much money in as short a time as possible so they can go back to their village and improve the life of their family, I don't think your idea of legality would be particularly welcome there.
      • Re:Pffft (Score:5, Insightful)

        by vlm (69642) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @05:32PM (#36029098)

        FTFA: "And they were made to promise that if they did, their families would only seek the legal minimum in damages."

        So, there is some form of enforcement after all. The legality of this, I couldn't say.

        I don't think I'm violating a NDA here, because this is a "well known" liability limiting move.

        So anyone killed by, say, an overhead crane dropping a pallet on their heads, can be ruled a suicide, and they promise their family only gets legal minimum in damages. I'm only slightly tongue in cheek with the crane example, as the company would rule the victim should have been looking up, only a suicidal person would not run away as the pallet falls on them, etc. Pretty much anything other than blatant 1st deg murder with numerous witnesses would qualify.

        How much legal weight something like this holds is mysterious. If it intimidates just one victims family, it certainly pays for the cost of paperwork.

    • If they were smart, they would destroy large amounts of expensive equipment on their way out. That would change things very quickly. Just offing themselves is only embarrassing.

      And of course this assumes they can't get a job somewhere else (because that would be the truly smart thing to do).

      This entire thing makes me a little embarrassed to use an Iphone tho it is required by work. But it says that Apple is fairly evil. This should have been resolved before anyone died.

      • by Samalie (1016193)

        Apple is evil, Dell is evil, Google is evil, Microsoft is evil....

        They're all bastards really...not one of them care one lick outside of keeping their shareholders happy. And all that keeps the shareholders happy is profit & a rising stock price.

        Nobody in the business world gives one shit about any of the pleebs...they're just resources to get the job done to make money to keep the shareholders happy.

      • It says Foxconn is fairly evil. These aren't Apple plants. I'm not saying apple is a saint, but TFA doesn't say that Apple requested these conditions. It just draws some correlations to Apple by mentioning that these plants make stuff for them.

        During peak periods of demand for the iPad, workers were made to take only one day off in 13.

        To me that says the owners of Foxconn promised Apple a certain number of iPads and probably promised their other clients stuff and they made sure their people made that stuff damnit. It also seems pretty clear that the factories are the ones forcing people to sign th

    • there's your enforcement. It's surprisingly hard to kill a human being when they don't have access to guns or tall buildings...
  • That'll show them (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, they better not kill themselves OR ELSE!

    • by Dogtanian (588974)

      Yeah, they better not kill themselves OR ELSE!

      Or else their family will get bugger-all compensation because the employee signed an agreement not to commit suicide, whereas they might have stood a chance of getting more otherwise.

      This *might* or might not work in the Chinese legal system, but I wouldn't bet large amounts against it. And (as others have already said) even if all it does is put a few people off by making it *appear* harder to sue, it's probably worth the relatively small cost of inclusion.

      An example of how, even- well, especially- on

  • Ugh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @04:58PM (#36028696)

    See this is why I don't understand everyone bitching about the American economy being broken. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't... but one thing is for sure. We are using paid employee's to try and compete with a country that essentially uses prisoners to power there economy. Whos confused about why we are losing??

    • Re:Ugh (Score:5, Informative)

      by squidflakes (905524) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @05:02PM (#36028756) Homepage
      We also use our huge prisoner population for all sorts of work. Telemarketing, small time manufacture, and now even some electronic components. All made by prisoners who were probably put in to jail thanks to our ridiculous "War on Drugs" and politicians who want to appear tough on crime.
      • All made by prisoners who were probably put in to jail thanks to our ridiculous "War on Drugs" and politicians who want to appear tough on crime.

        Without arguing that the "War on Drugs" is a good idea or in some way fair, don't you have to be at least a little stupid to get involved with drugs knowing that you could spend your days alternating between having to telemarket and being pounded in the ass as a result?

        I mean, there's lots of things I'd like to do that I don't agree with the laws on, but orange jumpsuit is a terrible look for me and so I don't.

        • by navyjeff (900138)
          Depends on your situation. If it's between selling drugs and going hungry, I could see why people might choose the former. That's probably why you don't see a lot of white collar people selling drugs.
          • Re:Ugh (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Velex (120469) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @06:19PM (#36029692) Homepage Journal

            That's probably why you don't see a lot of white collar people selling drugs.

            Not to derail the topic too far, but I see white collar people selling addictive drugs that give the user a high all the time. It's just that when we're talking about drugs that are approved by big pharma/big government, the dealer is called a doctor. And believe me, doctors act just like drug dealers, too. I had one doctor start to tell me he would call a hit out on me if I couldn't make his alpha pager work when it was turned off. According to the board of directors at a local hospital, it may not be safe for me to be one of their patients because of a dispute they had about a bill. Doctors are drug dealers, little more, and once you figure that you, a lot of things start to make sense about the prohibition of substances such as marihuana. The medical establishment doesn't want competition from a substance that doesn't cost a dime to grow.

        • by DarkIye (875062)

          don't you have to be at least a little stupid to get involved with drugs knowing that you could spend your days alternating between having to telemarket

          You could get hit pretty hard for illegal filesharing or drinking during prohibition, too, but at the end of the day, when the law's bullshit, fuck it.

          and being pounded in the ass

          Myth?

        • by Valacosa (863657)

          Without arguing that social hygene is a good idea or in some way fair, don't you have to be at least a little stupid to get involved with hiding Jews knowing that you could spend your days alternating between having to telemarket and being pounded in the ass as a result?

          I mean, there's lots of things I'd like to do that I don't agree with the laws on, but orange jumpsuit is a terrible look for me and so I don't.

          I know I've Godwin'd the thread, but it illustrates my point: it's a bad idea to blindly follow

    • Nobody is confused. everybody just wants to pretend we can compete with that. We can't.

      Either we have to lower standards for our workers, or they have to raise theirs.

      Either solution is probably going to involve and armed revolution somewhere along the line, one way or another.

      • Having put in multiple 70 hour weeks lately (and having co-workers talk about their 80 hour weeks) it seems like we are losing that battle.

        But their wages are going up 20% to 100% per year. Given the very low starting bases, it will be about 8 years before it just doesn't make sense to make a lot of products there and then ship them over here.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mrnobo1024 (464702)

        Nobody is confused. everybody just wants to pretend we can compete with that. We can't.

        Either we have to lower standards for our workers, or they have to raise theirs.

        Or, we could bring back what we used to have before the globalists took over circa 1970 and the standard of living here stopped growing: tariffs.

        Although, I suppose throwing the globalists out to do that would probably require an armed revolution too.

        • Or, we could bring back what we used to have before the globalists took over circa 1970 and the standard of living here stopped growing: tariffs.

          How do you plan on explaining to consumers that the majority of their goods will now cost significantly more, perhaps several times as much? Ok, better question, how will a politician explain that, and still get re-elected?

    • by migla (1099771)

      See this is why I don't understand everyone bitching about the American economy being broken. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't... but one thing is for sure. We are using paid employee's to try and compete with a country that essentially uses prisoners to power there economy. Whos confused about why we are losing??

      Who's losing? Apple? Us consumers who get lower prices thanks to exploitation of the workers?

      This is global capitalism. It sure screws many of us middle class westerners a bit too, but the capitalists h

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      >>>a country that essentially uses prisoners to power their economy.

      This is why I think the US and EU should block all goods coming from this company (Foxconn) and other companies that treat their employees like prisoners/paid slaves. We can't enforce human rights in China, but we can make the decision to boycott the goods, just as would boycott "blood diamond" companies.

      • Re:Ugh (Score:4, Insightful)

        by peragrin (659227) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @05:20PM (#36028988)

        The problem is foxconn while notable is better than many other places because Apple is forcing them to step up. you don't hear about Acer's companies or another's because they are generally doing nothing.

        Apple is forcing foxconn to step up and treat it's people better. That is why it is news.

    • by Kvasio (127200)

      Could you remind me which country was so greedy 20 years ago that decided to use cheap Chinese labour despite that they knew these were commies treating their citizens no better than Ghaddafi now?

      I recon, there were various countries, but think that there was one major source of investment.

      You created this monster. Learn to live with it or do something about it - but stop whining.

    • to power there economy. Whos confused about why we are losing??

      Because some of us don't know the correct usage of "there" and "their"?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Pardon? Capitalism has never functioned in the history of the world without slavery. True, some countries outlawed slavery, including the US, but migrant workers and outsourcing overseas filled in the gap that slavery left behind. The American economy is only broken if you disagree with the concept of slavery. No one in the US is trying to use paid employees to try and compete with a country that uses prisoners to power their economy. It is AMERICA that is using prisoners in other countries to power IT
      • by rubycodez (864176)
        it's not capitalism if you enslave someone, it's something else. That's one of the lies of our time, calling wall street fat cats and banksters capitalists. They are enslavers and parasites, and buy lawmakers to keep us from having capitalism.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @04:59PM (#36028702)

    I bet that will work as well as that pledge to not use sarcasm I signed.

  • Effectiveness (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Translation Error (1176675) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @05:00PM (#36028728)
    The vast majority of people who commit suicide are not thinking rationally at the time. No pledges, no clauses that say family members will only sue for the minimum monetary compensation allowable, will make a difference to someone not in their right mind.
  • Foxconn != Apple (Score:5, Informative)

    by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @05:01PM (#36028732) Homepage Journal

    Why every time Foxconn is mentioned it is automatically associated with Apple. Foxconn manufacturers for large number of clients including Logitech and Dell. Maybe I'm just being new again?

    • Perhaps the ones who work on products for Dell and Logitech don't have to sign the pledge?

      After all, they don't have the pressure of building iPads--the magical device. Your Dell doesn't work? So what else is new? On the other hand, you make a mistake building an iPad and some Fanboi will cry all over the Internet. That's a lot of pressure.

      On the other hand, building Dells day in and day out might cause me to consider suicide...

      • by jo_ham (604554)

        Yes, but the ones working on Apple products are also paid more than the ones working on any other product, per Apple's requirements. (not that is this excuses them being forced to work overtime, voluntarily or pressured into it etc).

        Apple does have a code of conduct for its suppliers, but just how effective it is is up to the individual suppliers. Even if it was all done locally (ie, on US soil) you still face that issue - just look at the slaughterhouses and general fast food industry - the conditions at F

    • They also make HP stuff. As to why Apple gets trumpeted out, it's because the Apple crowd also tends to be more environmentally conscious as a general rule. Corporate America, which runs on the other products, doesn't give a shit about the treatment of workers overseas, as we well know. But Apple's user base is primarily consumer. You can bet many an Apple user diligently recycles, drives a hybrid car, and eats organic vegetables. And yet they allow Apple to make their products in China and STILL charg
      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @05:27PM (#36029050)

        They are very annoyed that they have to admit their products are built elsewhere. If you take a look on any device it'll always say where it was made or assembled. That is required by law. Almost all devices, that's all it says about that. However Apple stuff? Right before that they have to note "Designed in California by Apple." Reason is they want to try and deflect from the "Made in China" part. They don't want their Mac to be just another thing made in China.

        Well, that makes the stories particularly juicy to the press when they relate to Apple and China. Most companies aren't bothered. They stamp the country of assembly on the box and call it good. So calling them out on it does nothing. You call out MSI on their motherboards being made in China and they'll say "Ummm yes, yes they are. Says so right on the board."

        Also there's the fact that it seems Apple puts additional secrecy pressure on Foxconn and that their employees have been subject to additional restrictions and scrutiny due to Apple leaks. You don't see that with other products Foxconn makes. They don't have to keep everything super secret since companies don't put on the big show and their products are usually known well in advance of launch.

  • My current job has me doing this. 7 days of 12+ hours. And 45 OT hours each week, or 200 per month.
    (jumps off roof)

    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      Wow, that's almost as bad as working at EA.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Clerk 1: Two people ... three people have fallen to their almost certain death!
      Clerk 2: Must be a board meeting.
      Monty Python brilliancy [youtube.com]

    • Now if you said, for an average wage of about $7 daily, I would have felt for you.

    • by robot256 (1635039)

      My current job has me doing this. 7 days of 12+ hours. And 45 OT hours each week, or 200 per month. (jumps off roof)

      What does your hourly rate work out to after overtime pay? I'll bet it's more than theirs (adjusted for local cost of living, of course).

  • by dmomo (256005) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @05:04PM (#36028784) Homepage

    That's akin to saying, "hey, when you kill yourself, they know we are torturing you, so please stop killing yourself".

    Who's signing the "only work so many hours" pledge?

  • by vadim_t (324782) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @05:05PM (#36028796) Homepage

    It seems to me this provides extra motivation.

    If you try to commit suicide, but fail, you're now in breach of contract and out of a job. Which means two things: If you're going to try at all, it's best to ensure it succeeds. And if you still fail you've now got an extra motivation for giving it another try.

    Then there's that just signing this thing is probably harmful. Somebody could find it to be an additional motivation to commit suicide out of spite. After all, few things are more demeaning than somebody else asserting such control over your own life, and killing yourself anyway is about the biggest statement one could make about that.

    • by tftp (111690)

      Then there's that just signing this thing is probably harmful. Somebody could find it to be an additional motivation to commit suicide out of spite.

      People who commit suicide out of spite are, how do I say it, "unbalanced" ?

      One belief is that Foxconn people commit suicide to earn a windfall for their family. I don't know how true or untrue this is, but such a document will remove this motivation. This can't be bad.

      But of course if someone still wants to kill oneself, there isn't much that can be done

    • Paging Dostoevsky [wikipedia.org]...
  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999 AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @05:07PM (#36028848)

    As usual, especially for the Daily Hate Mail, the title is extremely misleading. It's been covered on slashdot before, but describing Foxconn as an iPad factory, or even an Apple factory is like calling Amazon a "Stephen King bookstore".

    The article strongly infers that the plant *only* makes Apple stuff.

    I also see no mention in the article about Apple's responses to this, with higher wages paid per employee (compared to the same employees in the same factory making Xboxes, PS3s, Nintendo Wiis, Android handsets, televisions, microwaves, etc etc), although they did talk about how little they were earning, and inspections and rules set out in a code of conduct (although, enforcing this is clearly difficult).

    So, nothing really to see here - typical of Daily Mail reporting. I'm just amazed they didn't try to work in a "gay, single-parent-mother asylum seeker claiming benefits and lottery money, causing cancer" angle somehow.

  • Suicide nets (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lavagolemking (1352431) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @05:09PM (#36028860)
    FTA:

    Anti-suicide nets were put up around the dormitory buildings on the advice of psychologists.

    If you have to put up suicide nets and make people sign contracts promising not to kill themself then you're doing it wrong.

    • Re:Suicide nets (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lennier (44736) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @05:21PM (#36028992) Homepage

      If you have to put up suicide nets and make people sign contracts promising not to kill themself then you're doing it wrong.

      So why are we still importing anything that this company makes?

      And if China's laws can't protect workers from this company, then why are we still importing anything China makes?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by operagost (62405)
        Because hipsters need their iPhones so they can tweet about how America is destroying the planet.
      • Re:Suicide nets (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @05:59PM (#36029442) Homepage Journal
        Because it's cheap as hell. Do you investigate the working conditions at the manufacturer for every product you buy? How about your toothbrush? Your underwear? Your ballpoint pen?

        Or do you just pick the cheapest one that meets your minimum critera? It's not like manufacturers put "Made with Slave Labor!" on the package.
      • Because we care more about getting cheap crap from Walmart than we do about a bunch of factory workers on the other side of the world.

  • Sucide rate? (Score:5, Informative)

    by asdbffg (1902686) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @05:17PM (#36028956)
    The Wired article a published a month or two ago claims that the suicide rate at American colleges is higher than at Foxconn. According to Wikipedia, the suicide rate per 100,000 persons in the US is 11.1, and according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, there are between 8 and 25 suicide attempts for every reported suicide death. That gives us an attempted suicide rate of around 88 or 89 per 100,000 people.

    Looking at the information on Foxconn in the linked article, it would appear that the attempted suicide rate is somewhere around 12 per 100,000 for the first part of 2010. That would come out to maybe 36 per 100,000 for the whole year?

    Maybe the headline should be: Making iPads in a Chinese Factory Is Truly Awful, But You're Much More Likely to Kill Yourself if You go to College in the US.

    Unless I'm missing something here. Also, the article appears to be pretty old.
    • Most of the depression in workers has less to do with their employment conditions and more to do with dying hopes and dreams. The factory workers probably didn't get a college scholarship. They came from the countryside with great plans to earn enough money to go to college on their own, to have money to send home to their families, and to live a nice modern life in the city. Instead they find themselves in a factory job with incredibly strict standards, making just enough money to survive in the city (w
    • Re:Sucide rate? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by retroworks (652802) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @06:26PM (#36029780) Homepage Journal
      You are pretty much right. The Foxconn factory in Shenzhen has about 450,000 employees (more than in press accounts). There are grocery stores, restaurants, schools, hospitals, etc. inside the campus. The article and header is therefore rather misleading, it's like a small city, with a small city's suicide rate. The tasks are hand assembly, the jobs the USA press is upset about losing. I'm not sure I'd be cut out for that. The actual name of the company is Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, the factory assembles for a LOT of companies, not just Apple. Expect them to come out with their own brands soon - following Acer (of Wistron) and Lenovo, they are going to outgrow being contract manufacturers and then maybe they'll make more money to pay their employees.
  • So, the families can only claim minimum damages if it's suicide?

    Look for even the most aggregious workplace injuries and deaths to be found to be suicide or attempted suicide.

    "She committed suicide by walking into the freezer and then padlocking herself in from the outside."

  • by quatin (1589389) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @05:57PM (#36029394)

    I'm not amazed that this would come out of the dailymail, but I am amazed so many slashdotters are falling for it.
    I see the term slavery being thrown out there like Foxconn is raiding villages and making chain gangs.

    The people who work in these factories are often young migrants, leaving their homes to find better wages. They would seek out overtime hours so they can earn more money to send home or for their dream savings. They know it's tough work, but it's a much better wage than what they would otherwise get. Some people can't handle the stress from being away from home and working a tough factory shift.

    China is in that era of an industrial revolution. Family farms are becoming non-sustainable and the next generation is moving into the city to find work. Unskilled labor tend to end up in factories and the rapid life style change along with the isolation puts a lot of stress on these kids. I'm not saying Foxconn shouldn't relax their work policies, but the we're avoiding the true problem here.

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @06:39PM (#36029936)

    I'm all for investigating abuses in Chinese labor and dealing with them, but tis article is counter-productive. First, it constantly refers to Foxconn only in relation to Apple, not mentioning the dozens of other corporations it supplies. It repeatedly refers to facilities run by "Apple's supplier" but doesn't mention if they were actual facilities that make things for Apple and which Apple audits yearly and openly publishes information about and what they found and what action they took. It mentions Apples audits in the phrase, "...but its[Apple] own audit reports suggest suppliers in China may not meet up to these standards." It does not mention the list of changes Apple required from various suppliers nor the numerous suppliers Apple fired outright for violating Apple's human rights policy.

    I find this article irresponsible because it is just heaping bad press on Apple (not the rest of the industry) when in truth Apple is the only company I have been able to find actually taking a stand and doing something about the problem. There is no mention of Asus, Sony, Intel, Acer, Nokia, etc. who are all supplied by Foxconn. Thus readers are misled into thinking Apple is the issue. All this article does is motivate Apple to stop publishing audits and stop all the good work they've been doing to remediate the labor problem. I'd like to be the first to throw a big "Fuck you!" to the Daily Mail for their irresponsible, slanted journalism.

  • Common therapy tool (Score:4, Informative)

    by dogmatixpsych (786818) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @06:43PM (#36029970) Homepage Journal
    I'm not sure if it's effective to "force" them to sign the document but this is a common way to deal with suicidal individuals from a mental health perspective. You get people to sign a form, even just one you scribbled out right there, or give a verbal commitment to not kill themselves until the next time you see them, when you get the commitment again. It works for most people. Most people really don't want to kill themselves, they want to end pain or maybe even cause pain but few people who attempt suicide want to do it. They consider it because they believe it's their only realistic option for dealing with their problems. This is generally true in America, I don't know if it's the case in other parts of the world.
  • by billybob_jcv (967047) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @09:32PM (#36031158)
    What do the workers in the HUMANCENTiPAD [avclub.com] factory have to sign?
  • by Phanatic1a (413374) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @10:39PM (#36031476)

    Let's see what they use as examples of excessive hours and draconian rules.

    â- Excessive overtime is routine, despite a legal limit of 36 hours a month. One payslip, seen by the Observer, indicated that the worker had performed 98 hours of overtime in a month.

    98 hours of overtime. In a month. I'll grant that's a lot of overtime. If he's working a 48-hour week, call it 192 hours straight time a month, and then 98 on top of that? If he's not working weekends, yeesh, that's a month of 14.5-hour workdays. That's hard, is really is, most people won't work days like that for a sustained period of time unless they're medical residents. Even if he *is* working on weekends, which if you're working that much OT you are, then it would take working 12-hour shifts on the weekdays and then coming in for 10-hour days on the weekends. *That* I've done, and plenty of other people have too without it being "inhumane."

    And that's the article's outlier. Look at that legal limit. 36 hours a month? Jesus, the unions in this country would strike long and hard if an employer instituted a flat cap of 1.2 hours/day OT. Raise your hand if you've never worked more 36 hours a month OT. Now get off the computer and go get a job.

    â- Workers attempting to meet the huge demand for the first iPad were sometimes pressured to take only one day off in 13.

    Wow. Really? There's a rush of demand and you're so busy you have to work through the weekend? That happens so often in every business that it's a standard joke. And note even the wording: they're not required to, they're *pressured* to, and that only *sometimes*. Again, raise your hand if you've never worked two weeks off without a break.

    â- In some factories badly performing workers are required to be publicly humiliated in front of colleagues.

    Okay, this has never happened to me, it's not really a Western culture thing, outside of British public schools. American schools used to stick poor performers in the corner with a dunce cap, if Gasoline Alley and other such comics haven't lied to me, but I guess that's gone out of style.

    â- Crowded workers' dormitories can sleep up to 24 and are subject to strict rules. One worker told the NGO investigators that he was forced to sign a "confession letter" after illicitly using a hairdryer. In the letter he wrote: "It is my fault. I will never blow my hair inside my room. I have done something wrong. I will never do it again."

    Crowding? And strict rules? In China? Getthefuckouttahere.

    â- In the wake of a spate of suicides at Foxconn factories last summer, workers were asked to sign a statement promising not to kill themselves and pledging to "treasure their lives".

    Ah. The suicides. First, if Foxconn has a suicide problem, this isn't a dumb policy. The "I shalt not kill myself note" is actually a fairly standard bit of psychiatric treatment for would-be suicides, sort of like the suicide hotline phones on some bridges. Maybe it'll help, maybe it won't, but the fact that they're doing it doesn't demonstrate that they're inhumane and don't care about their workers, it demonstrates just the opposite.

    And does Foxconn have a suicide problem? I doubt it. Foxconn's huge. They've got a million workers, 17 of which killed themselves over a five-year period. So that's a rate of .34/100k/year. China's overall suicide rate it 6.6/100k/year, so employees at Foxconn are killing themselves at a rate of about 1/20th that of the general population. In *China*. They're killing themselves at a rate of about 1/30th of the US population. So maybe this policy doesn't really demonstrate concern for their workers. Maybe it's just a pointy-haired-boss response to a stupid media panic fed by a general innumeracy amongst the population, I don't know. But one thing it's not is inhumane.

    And then there's this bit:

From Sharp minds come... pointed heads. -- Bryan Sparrowhawk

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