On the heels of news of yet another suicide… this time at their sprawling Shenizhen facility, iPad and iPhone parts provider Foxconn, saw the multinational’s market cap drop by 10 percent in overnight trading.
The company has faced withering criticism amid reports of inhumane working conditions leading to at least 10 suicides in recent months at the company’s 400,000 worker plantation…err campus outside Longhua.
Foxconn’s CEO, Gou Tai-ming, has finally moved to limit the damage related to the suicide reports, reportedly telling the Chinese press that Foxconn is not a ‘Sweatshop’, and is being judged by Western standards of which the Chinese economy has yet to reach.
Gou also complained that the negative press attention was damaging the company’s ability to land future contracts. This coming from a man who runs a factory that employs 400 thousand workers making an average of about $132 U.S. Dollars a month.
What was it that Jerry Seinfeld said?
“I guess that’s a risk you run when you dabble in the flesh trade…”
It would take Seth McFarlane like hypocrisy for AppAdvice not to recognize both sides of the human rights / free trade debate. Without low wage workers there might not be an affordable iPhone or iPad and most certainly no iPhone or iPad apps for us to write about. One could say who are we to judge… exploitation knows no boundary and those are American companies footing the bill. Calling Chinese workers exploited is like calling a Teamsters local corrupt. It’s a given, but does that make it okay?
At some point we can’t help but think Cupertino will have its black shirted CEO come out and say…”Less than a U.S. Dollar an hour is not an appropriate wage in California and it’s not an appropriate wage in Mexico, Northern Ireland, and certainly not in Shenizhen. We are going to build these gadgets in a place where the workers can afford to buy them and where suicide is not a occupational hazard.”
But as consumers are we willing to pay for a move like this? Will you reward Apple if it takes this step but fails to meet the $199/$499 price points we all love so much? Would you pay $600-$700 for the lowest end iPad to ensure practices like those at Foxcomm stop? Of course we understand these may be average work practices in China, but Apple has never settled for just being “average” and I for one would be proud to pay more to ensure my iDevice is produced without blood on anyone’s hands. Can you say the same?