A young man became the 10th worker to jump to his death at a Foxconn Technology Group factory in southern China, just hours after the company’s chairman toured the plant that makes iPods and other top-selling gadgets, state-run media said.
How does one apply cost-benefit analysis to something like this? It would seem the cost of one’s own death would outweigh any possible benefit, but maybe that is a reflection of my western culture and ideas.
Labor activists have long said that Foxconn’s problem was a rigid management style on factory floors, where the assembly line moved too fast and workers were forced to log too much overtime. Foxconn has repeatedly denied the allegations.
Stephen Palmer, director of the London Center for Stress Management, said it was difficult to know how unusually high the suicide rates were at a factory as big as the one in Shenzhen. He said suicide rates in China tend to be higher than normal, and that on a population level, there are about 13 suicides per 100,000 men and 14 per 100,000 women.
If it is true that the working conditions are so bad, and you consider that a young worker from western China may feel like there is no way out, perhaps with family pride and well-being resting on the young man’s shoulders, it gets only a tiny bit more reasonable.
Whatever, it is clear that the company and its management policies need to be scrutenized by not-too-sympathetic officials.