so there's this really small piece in a sidebar in today's herald about protests against the iphone in hong kong:
A group of two dozen demonstrators protested outside the Hong Kong office of Taiwan-based Foxconn yesterday, calling on the technology giant to improve working conditions at its giant plant across the border in the city of Shenzhen.
The group said Foxconn - a manufacturer for Apple and other electronics giants - should investigate the suicides, which have reached 10 this year after a 19-year-old employee fell to his death at the factory yesterday.
now i think this is pretty important news. 10 deaths in four and a half months is a high number, and you'd think it would have more of a headline, especially considering how popular iphones are. i would hope that most people would actually care about the conditions of workers producing the consumer goods they purchase, and would want to be able to make an informed choice about the products they purchase. that's how markets are supposed to work, or so i thought.
hong kong workers are calling for a boycott, and there are some further details from here:
"The reason we're staging the protest is the high death rate due to some workers committing suicide within five months, which we think is abnormal," Debby Chan, spokeswoman for Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour, told AFP.
"Foxconn should evaluate its management style . . . . We strongly urge Foxconn to start a committee to look into the reasons they died."
The deaths, apparent suicides, have raised questions about the conditions for millions of factory workers in China, especially at Foxconn, where labour activists say long hours, low pay and high pressure are the norm.
it's at least good to see this kind of publicity and activism happening around labour rights in china. let's hope it spreads.
ETA: and the response from foxconn is predictable. they're not even looking at working conditions, pay or working hours. instead, they're asking workers to sign letters promising not to kill themselves and even agree[ing] to be institutionalised if they appeared to be in an "abnormal mental or physical state for the protection of myself and others". yeah, i'm sure that will solve the problem.