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Apple’s iPhone manufacturer, Foxconn, tries another bandaid solution

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In a recent report by Reuters, Apple’s iPhone manufacturer, Foxconn is offering its workers at the Shenzhen plant an opportunity for a 66 per cent wage increase in reaction to the recent wave of suicides and deaths. It’s an “opportunity” for wage increase as employees would need to pass a three-month performance review for the opportunity to earn 2,000 yuan ($300 CDN) a month. Employees would also be provided the option to work overtime, “making it more voluntary than in the past”.

The wage increase comes in addition to a universal 30 per cent pay increase on the cash portion of wages that was recently announced, as well as the installation of  safety nets at the factory as a preventative measure to suicide attempts. All of which are notably tactical reactions.

What is interesting in all of this is that it would appear that the actual source of the problem has not been addressed: the actual worker conditions. Surely implementing small changes to improve worker conditions, treatment, and requirements would be a good start? Is Foxconn really that blind? Or perhaps that cold? Or maybe that corrupted by greed? I’m open to the possibility that perhaps Foxconn is just ignorant of the knowledge of what’s really the problem and how to solve it – it’s certainly a possibility – but somehow, I doubt that. Companies like Foxconn don’t become manufacturing powerhouses by being ignorant of knowledge – but sometimes they do at the expense of their workers. And it looks like they’re not willing to give an inch there. Unfortunately, until they do, or a big client like Apple truly forces them to align with the discussed sustainability requirements, the likelihood of the worker suicides continuing will remain the same. Stable at a 100 per cent chance of incidence.

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