Friday, May 21, 2010

Dying for a Job

I've tried avoiding writing about this topic, but I can't ignore it any longer. What is wrong with Foxconn? It was reported that yet another employee committed suicide by jumping from the factory in Shenzhen. That's the 10th confirmed suicide attempt by jumping and eighth successful suicide since January. The seventh suicide at the factory was just over a week ago. Never mind that Foxconn had a history of such problems before this year.

Just this year Foxconn established a suicide hotline--a service that was long-overdue for a company that employs 420,000 people in Shenzhen. It also encourages employees to regularly work 12 hours a day to earn a decent wage in one of China's most expensive cities. Never mind that Shenzhen is a very difficult place to make real friends among the throngs of migrants all hoping to make quick money and return home.

When you combine long working hours with an isolated lifestyle (most employees live in dorms on the factory grounds) and employees under the age of 30 who are probably away from home for the first time, depression is likely.

It has gotten so bad at Foxconn that the state-run newspapers are writing editorials about how to fix the company. The government is investigating the company and attempting to prevent future suicides.

Unfortunately, suicide among the young population of Shenzhen is not uncommon.

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