Blogman's Notes: So you think that Apple makes all its billions because of innovation? Think again! Steve Jobs, the All American-CEO was, more than anything, an All-American CEO. Steve knew all too well that manufacturing them good ole' i-Pods and i-Pads and Macintosh Computers in the good ole' US of A would be not to good for the bottom line of Apple. So Apple, like HP and Dell and all the other 'Innovative' All-American Corporations packed up their bags from Sunny KALIFORNEEYA and moved to the ancient land of the Dragon. Like KALI, the bloody goddess of death, The DRAGON is a hard taskmaster, and it seems that that ancient land has more than enough subjects that can be subjected to the lives of galley slaves of yore to pad the bottom lines of a few Chinese 'Businessmen' and even fewer American Corporate Executives. The word 'Businessmen' is used rather loosely here; the businessmen and executives of today, especially on Wall Street, are in reality closer to their spiritual ancestors, the conquistadors, that refined the art of working their employees to death in Central - South American gold and silver mines. Why bother with pension plans and other benefits when the employee is certain to depart the world after a few years of 'voluntary' service in magnificent 'designed in Kaliforneeya' Apple Club Med type manufacturing facilities in China? After all the employees are so happy working for Apple that they are lining up on the roofs of the factories where they work to jump down for joy on to the concrete pavement below! Or is there another reason why these employees would want to jump off the roofs of the plants that they volunteer their services to? Ah! perhaps that's the problem! Apple thinks these laborers are volunteers, and therefore there is no need to pay them! What a concept - getting paid for work done, so 20th Century!
FoxConn, which at last count had well over 1 million workers and rising, appears to have had enough of being the global electronic gadget sweatshop, and as theTelegraph reports, saw its workers threaten with mass suicides unless working conditions are not improved. "Around 150 Chinese workers at Foxconn, the world's largest electronics manufacturer, threatened to commit suicide by leaping from their factory roof in protest at their working conditions. The workers were eventually coaxed down after two days on top of their three-floor plant in Wuhan by Foxconn managers and local Chinese Communist party officials." Does this mean that in the latest Apple prospectus there will be a Risk Factor which says: "Our profit margins may be severely impaired if our contracted work force decides to proceed with mass self-induced genocide." We will find out, but if anyone needed a loud and clear warning that the record profitability of high margin electronics producers is about to go down, this is it.
Needless to say, this is not the first time FoxConn has had close encounters of the suicide kind:
Foxconn, which manufactures gadgets for the likes of Apple, Sony, Nintendo and HP, among many others, has had a grim history of suicides at its factories. A suicide cluster in 2010 saw 18 workers throw themselves from the tops of the company's buildings, with 14 deaths.
In the aftermath of the suicides, Foxconn installed safety nets in some of its factories and hired counsellors to help its workers.
The latest protest began on January 2 after managers decided to move around 600 workers to a new production line, making computer cases for Acer, a Taiwanese computer company.
"We were put to work without any training, and paid piecemeal," said one of the protesting workers, who asked not to be named. "The assembly line ran very fast and after just one morning we all had blisters and the skin on our hand was black. The factory was also really choked with dust and no one could bear it," he said.
What next? Each iPad coming with a disclaimer: "No Chinese workers committed suicide in the creation of this product"?
Several reports from inside Foxconn factories have suggested that while the company is more advanced than many of its competitors, it is run in a "military" fashion that many workers cannot cope with. At Foxconn's flagship plant in Longhua, five per cent of its workers, or 24,000 people, quit every month.
"Because we could not cope, we went on strike," said the worker. "It was not about the money but because we felt we had no options. At first, the managers said anyone who wanted to quit could have one month's pay as compensation, but then they withdrew that offer. So we went to the roof and threatened a mass suicide".
China has "dealt" with the issue:
A spokesman for Foxconn confirmed the protest, and said that the incident was "successfully and peacefully resolved after discussions between the workers, local Foxconn officials and representatives from the local government".
He added that 45 Foxconn employees had chosen to resign and the remainder had returned to work. "The welfare of our employees is our top priority and we are committed to ensuring that all employees are treated fairly," he said.
So all is well - please resume your sweatshop-facilitated iTunes enjoyment.
1 Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
4 Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.
5 Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.
6 Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.
7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.