In recent times, Apple has become one of the mightiest, richest, and most successful companies in the world, in part by mastering global manufacturing. Apple and its high-technology peers- as well as multiple other American industries- have achieved a pace of innovation nearly unmatched in modern history. However, the workers assembling iPhones, iPads, and other devices often labor in harsh conditions, according to workers themselves, worker advocates, and documents published by the companies themselves. These issues vary from onerous work environments to serious labor violations. The advent of capitalist expansion has given rise to how one of the world’s largest corporations, Apple, having subjected their laborers to work pressure and desperation that have led to the extremist resort of suicide, and collective resistance. Apple’s corporate social responsibility should be a barrier in eliminating unfair labor, but instead consumerism takes reign in monetary value.
A shocking 13 young workers attempted or committed suicide at the two Foxconn production facilities in southern China between January and May 2010, with ten deaths, and three unsuccessful attempts all between the ages of 17 and 25. Foxconn maintains ownership of the factories, which Apple contracts out to conduct their manufacturing. After this amount of suicides, Foxconn decided to put up a net around the roof of the building to catch further laborers attempting to commit suicide, synonymous to fishermen putting up netting to catch fish alive, before sending them off to be killed. The use of netting, is rather a cost effective means to keeping the laborers rather than an ethical implementation procedure into stopping suicide or more-so the harsh conditions occurring inside the factories. Apple, instead of delving into the reasons behind the suicides, commended Foxconn “for taking quick action on several fronts... Foxconn’s response had definitely saved lives” said Apple in a Supplier Report, it is worthwhile to note that while Apple continues to work with Foxconn, they have ended relations with other manufacturers who are proven to have unfair labor conditions. And agreeably setting up psychological counselors is conducive to a proper environment, expect when laborers are resorting to death as the only option there is a deeper issue. In a blog written by the 12th jumper he argued the reason for the collective protest, “we who are called nongmingong, rural migrant workers, in China- the use of death is simply to testify that we were ever alive at all, and that while we lived, we had only despair.” These deaths should awaken society, or at least leaders within Apple to reflect upon the costs of a development model that is sacrificing human moral and life to economic prosperity. Apple and Foxconn now have entered into binding contracts with each employee stating that if they commit or attempt to commit suicide, either corporations are not liable for any damages, and cannot be sued by the employee nor their family members.
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