Foxconn, or Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, is a multinational manufacturing company based out of Taiwan which accounts for about 40% of all assembled electronic products. Though Foxconn has factories throuhgout Asia, Europe, Mexico and South America, its largest operation takes place in China, where the majority of the controversy surrounding the company has stemmed from. Foxconn has 13 factories throughout China, the largest of which is in Longhua, and with potentially 450,000 workers that live, eat, and work within the walled compound, has been dubbed “Foxconn City”.
Many of the confirmed documented complaints about the conditions in the factory stem around questionable demands and working conditions. A 2012 audit by the Fair Labor Association uncovered some unethical workplace issues. Many workers reported working in excess of 60 hours a week, but received unfair overtime compensation, and the majority of workers complained that they were not paid enough to afford basic needs. When a factory like “Foxconn City” houses, feeds, and employs these people, it would appear to be by design that these workers are trapped in a slave-like situation. In addition to issues over hours and pay, many concerns have been raised over the amount of workplace accidents and lack of safety precautions that exist in these factories.
Arguably the largest emphasis of the media in recent years has been the issue of suicide at the Foxconn factories. After a spat of 14 suicides in 2010, Foxconn factories installed the infamous “suicide nets” that are pictured above. However, since then the amount of employee suicides has been negligible, and interestingly enough, the rate of suicides among Foxconn employees has always been lower than the average rate of both Chinese and American citizens.
All in all, there is no doubt that Foxconn has engaged in some ethically questionable practices as an employer. However, it is up for debate whether their factories truly represent modern day labor camps, or if they are in reality the best opportunity for Chinese workers to make a living. Perhaps both cases are simultaneously true, which speaks about the basic plight of the Chinese lower class. What do others think about the ethical issues surrounding Foxconn and other similar companies?