In just a few months’ time, there were nine suicide attempts, with seven confirmed deaths in Foxconn’s factory in Shenzhen, China. The Foxconn employees kept dying, and one reporter wanted to try to understand why. What 20-year-old Liu Zhi Yi learned shocked and saddened him, and is opening the eyes of the world to the deplorable conditions in the factory.
Every one of these people is living their life in an automated fashion. They go to work, they get off of work and then they sleep. There is no relaxation or fun to their lives, for there isn’t time. When the young people are hired at Foxconn, they have to sign a voluntary overtime agreement wherein they won’t hold the company liable for having to work extremely long hours. Much of the time, the employees don’t even get to know the name of the person working beside them. The reporter believes this is due to the fact that every person must dress the same and perform identical tasks day after day after day. This alienates them from each other, and causes them to feel as though there is no one to really talk to.
The only happy day in the employees’ lives fall on the 10th of each month: payday. The workers crowd the ATM machines to withdraw their meager salaries, which aren’t enough to own one of the products they are assembling. Wages there begin at around $130.00 U.S. dollars per month. Many of the workers are jealous of those who fall ill. Those are the only people who get any type of real rest and sleep. Liu Zhi Yi suspects that the employees begin to feel as though the only way to break this cycle is through death.
Since this report has come to light, there have been rumors as to the steps Foxconn is taking in order to help alleviate this problem. They are setting up support lines, stress relief rooms, counseling classes and monetary rewards for reporting a mood problem a colleague may be having. Will these things help in any way? Possibly… however, it would help a lot more if Foxconn would simply improve the working conditions – and lives – of these people. It’s sad when one employee admitted that he intentionally drops things on the floor, just so that he can stoop down for a moment and relieve the pain in his back and joints from standing for so many hours.
What will it take to make things better? How about giving the employees ways to relieve stress and have a little bit of fun? Why not pay them a bit more, since Foxconn reportedly had a $565 MILLION profit in the first quarter of this year alone. Does that not scream out loud to anyone else? If the company is rolling in that type of profits, why then are there still employees who are unhappy enough over their horrible working lives and conditions that they would choose death over repeating their workday again? There needs to be one hell of a lot more done to help these workers… these human beings… than what measly attempts the company has made thus far.