Saturday, June 19, 2010

Apple's i-Pad made under military discipline: Taiwanese petition

The cluster of ten suicides at the Taiwan-owned factory in Shenzhen, China, “is a bitter accusation made with 10 young lives against the inhumane, exploitative labor regime.” The responsibility for the tragedy, and for making amends, lies with four parties:

-- the owners of the factory, Hon Hai Precision Industry and its subsidiary, Foxconn Technology Inc.., which operates the Shenzhen plant.
-- the government of China, “which favors employers and fails to assure basic labor rights in China.”
-- multinational corporations, such as Apple Computer Inc., which outsoure products, such as iPad, to companies like Foxconn that “minimize their costs by transferring the price pressure onto their workers in forms of low pay, military discipline, and ruthless working conditions.”
-- the government of Taiwan, which is “an accessory to the wrongdoings of international conglomerates.”
So says a petition originated by a group of Taiwanese academicians and now signed by more than 200 colleagues, plus labor and environmental activists. Previously, in my blog posted yesterday, I referred to it as a letter, not a petition. This morning, an anonymous email sent me an English translation of the petition,

Its additional details and insights include:

1. “The concentration camp-styled controlling system, the means of supervision over employees, and repeated labor for more than a dozen hours a day on production lines are main reasons for physical and mental exhaustion and alienation of the workers.”

2. “The wage in Foxonn is relatively high compared to the other OEM [original equipment manufacturer] factories in Shenzhen….Pay raise is not the answer.”

3. “The representative of the [government] labor union of Foxconn, ironically, is the assistant of chairman Terry Guo” of Hon Hai.

All Taiwan-funded enterprises abroad, including Foxonn/Hon Hai, must end “military discipline in the factory as well as in the dormitory, the petition says. It also asks all others involved to initiate reforms. Among them: “a reform in the existing labor union system toward the guarantee of shop-floor worker representaton.”

Consumers are asked to boycott Apple’s new iPhone 4G “until the working conditions of its manufacturing factories are genuinely improved.”

The petition identifies two sociologists, Thung-Hong Lin of Academia Sinica and You-ren Yang of Tunghai University, as its “promoters.”
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