Archive - June 5, 2010

The Rebellion at Foxconn

Foxconn Technology Group is the largest manufacturer of electronics and computer components worldwide. If you own something by Apple, Nokia, HP, Dell, or if you own a Kindle, a game console, or anything with an Intel motherboard, it was probably made at Foxconn. The company’s main manufacturing plant is located in the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, a sprawling compound described by the Wall Street Journal as “The Forbidden City of [Foxconn CEO] Terry Gou.” Something like 400,000 employees live and work there, work that proceeds at a pace that a Chinese journalist named Liu Zhiyi (writing for Southern Weekend) describes as transforming you into “a component that’s entered the assembly line, just following the rhythm, belonging to that heartbeat at 4am, no way to escape.” While certainly poetic, this also goes some way to explain the twelve-plus employee suicide attempts so far this year (I think we might be up to sixteen or seventeen now — at least ten of which have been successful). It’s gotten so bad that the technology site Engadget (where I am a contributing editor) has been keeping a sort of suicide watch, while my colleagues at the Computex trade show in Taipei were greeted upon their arrival by protesters branding Apple CEO Steve Jobs an “OEM profit bloodsucker.”

Read More