back to article Another death in Apple's 'Mordor' – its Foxconn Chinese assembly plant

A worker at Apple's iPhone manufacturing plant in Zhengzhou, visited by CEO Tim Cook just a few months ago, has been found dead, reigniting concerns over how the iGiant's Chinese outsourcer Foxconn treats its employees. Foxconn, dubbed Mordor by Apple engineers, said in a statement that it was cooperating with the authorities …

  1. Lt.Kije

    suicide-prevention program

    "It also says it has introduced suicide-prevention programs at its factories."

    That would be safety nets around he edge of the roof, no?

    1. PleebSmash
      Devil

      Re: suicide-prevention program

      The safety nets aren't merely for suicide-prevention. They can be a fun stress release to improve employee morale. Of course, using them is cause for immediate termination.

    2. Antonymous Coward
      Terminator

      Re: suicide-prevention program

      "That would be safety nets around he edge of the roof, no?"

      I was thinking something like a weekly questionnaire might be involved too:

      Are you happy working at Foxconn and positive about the future?

      [ _ ] Yes

      [ _ ] No

      With "no" resulting in immediate dismissal. Natch.

  2. earl grey
    Thumb Down

    "jumped"

    Ah, yes. Another jumper. show of hands for who believes that?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: "jumped"

      I can believe he jumped. I've been around a lot of factories in the States and some of the working condtions, to me, would be barely tolerable. The rules and overall view of the working conditions in China are even by that comparison absolutely horrible.

  3. Heff

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-climb_paint

    Fixed this for you. (seriously : stop them from getting on the roof. good grief)

  4. John Tserkezis

    "employees aren't statistics"

    Don't know about that, I've worked for some places where we were just stats.

    1. ObSolutions, Inc

      Where I worked until recently, we were "resources". I suppose that's one step above stats, still quite far away from being considered a human being.

      1. ObSolutions, Inc

        No, I haven't the faintest idea why I'm commenting a story that's more than 6 months old either

  5. msknight

    This will all be solved in a year or two.

    However, we'll have new headlines, "Indian worker jumps from Foxconn building..." .. unless they make them all one storey high or something, as an effort to cut suicides. Then it'll be, "Seven Foxconn workers in 2017 broke their legs in India..."

    Stop the world. I wanna get off.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The suicide rate at Foxconn is lower than the overall Chinese suicide rate

    It is only news because it involves Apple. If a suicide happens at a factory assembling HTC phones, it would never make the news.

    1. Christian Berger

      Yes, but...

      HTC phone owners don't seem to think they are morally advanced beings, unlike at least some large part of the Apple followers.

      Ideally we would of course have some proper devices made locally and easy to repair. Unfortunately the market currently follows the unwashed masses, and those care more about touch screens and apps than they do about durability, security or not being sold to the manufacturer and 3rd parties.

      Currently our best hope for the future seems to be the Pyra:

      http://www.pyra-handheld.com/

      Not perfect by a long shot, but good enough to be criticised.

    2. Jedit
      FAIL

      "It is only news because it involves Apple"

      So you missed the bit of the article where the writer linked to a past El Reg article about Foxconn workers threatening suicide at a factory assembling XBoxes? Perhaps you didn't read it, because it wasn't about Apple.

  7. Charles Manning

    "employees aren't statistics"

    Errr, yes they are when you're looking at statistics. If you don't look at the statistics you get irrational articles like this.

    Foxconn has about 1 million employees. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foxconn

    If they were just normal USA citizens then you'd expect 100 to kill themselves in a year. (10/100,000)

    If they were just normal Chinese citizens then you'd expect about 78 to kill themselves in a year. (7.8/100000).

    If they were just normal Brits then you'd expect about 62. (6.2/100,000)

    So it really sounds like Foxcon is doing pretty well unless you let irrationality into the equation.

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: "employees aren't statistics"

      I agree on the whole, but you can't use the raw statistics for the entire population like that. These workers are (I imagine) predominantly younger people, who may well have a lower (or, indeed, higher) suicide rate than the general population.

      But, overall, the Chinese should be trying to figure out what makes the suicide rate at Foxconn so low, and trying to apply that to the population as a whole.

      1. I_am_Chris

        Re: "employees aren't statistics"

        Guess which demographic has the highest suicide rate? Young men.

        What's the betting that a high proportion of Foxconn's employees are young men? High, I'd say. So, a rate of 0.6/100,000 is laudable. Just because someone chose to commit suicide at work doesn't mean work was the *cause* of the suicide.

        This is such a non-story.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "employees aren't statistics"

          Guess which demographic has the highest suicide rate? Young men.

          What's the betting that a high proportion of Foxconn's employees are young men? High, I'd say. So, a rate of 0.6/100,000 is laudable. Just because someone chose to commit suicide at work doesn't mean work was the *cause* of the suicide.

          This is such a non-story.

          Someone decided to take their own life. That is ALWAYS a story, and so it should be. It does not merit casual treatment.

          You seem to suggest that a statistic is enough reason to ignore the death, but even if I put the evident lack of compassion aside in that statement I can give you a logical argument: you can only get those statistics so low if you pay attention the the instances that make up the data. We don't have a low accident rate on motorways because statistics were ignored, but because ongoing effort exists to lower fatalities.

          1. I_am_Chris

            Re: "employees aren't statistics"

            Of course it's sad that someone dies, but the story is nothing to do with them - there's no mention at all of who they were - Apple is the target here.

            Instead of criticising them, they should be applauded for improving quality of life. The UK, with all its welfare, has 10x the suicide rate and support is woeful yet we're quite happy to point fingers at Apple and the Chinese.

          2. gnasher729 Silver badge

            Re: "employees aren't statistics"

            If every suicide is a story, can we have 40,000 stories about the suicides that happen in the USA every year? If one suicide makes this place "Apple's 'Mordor'", what should we call the USA then with 40,000 suicides a year? Obama's death row?

            Maybe more importantly, can we have a story about the number of suicides at Foxconn dropping massively in the last years? From over ten in one year, to the point where a single suicide is used to justify an article? Now how did they do that? There are for example suicide nets - which give anyone with an ax to grind plenty of ammunition to complain about the evilness of Foxconn and Apple, while at the same time preventing suicides very successfully.

            Maybe that's something that the first poster on this thread should consider, when he is making fun of these nets. They actually work and save lives, no matter how much you poke fun at them. As a rule, people wanting to commit suicide are irrational and have no Plan B if someone thwarts Plan A - for example by putting up suicide nets.

          3. DavCrav

            Re: "employees aren't statistics"

            "Someone decided to take their own life. That is ALWAYS a story, and so it should be. It does not merit casual treatment."

            Unfortunately it is not. If, every time someone in the world commits suicide, it were a story, then you would have about forty seconds to read that story before you got a different story. A million people kill themselves a year, which works out to about one every forty seconds.

            A suicide is tragic, of course, and each represents a troubled life, but there are simply so many people in the world that lots of bad things happen to lots of people, just statistically.

        2. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: "employees aren't statistics"

          Just because someone chose to commit suicide at work doesn't mean work was the *cause* of the suicide.

          Actually, it probably is "work" since as I recall from other stories, most of them live in dorms on the grounds of the factories in true company style facilities. Foxconn hires a lot of people from outside the area. Not sure if it's the locals don't want the work or the stress but many workers come from farming areas that are beyond a daily commute distance. Add to that crowding in the housing, draconian (by the west's standards) rules and no chance to go party at the end of the week. Yeah... it's "work" related.

        3. ecarlseen

          Re: "employees aren't statistics"

          Thank you - this is exactly what I was going to post! Of course it's tragic when anyone commits suicide, but to blame an environment that creates a significantly lower suicide rate than most places for the occasional suicide is just bizarre. I'd love to see a rate of zero just as much as anyone else, but this article is just exploiting and sensationalizing some poor guy's death for a clickbait story that will give El Reg's readers their daily Five Minute Hate on Apple.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Chris Miller - what makes the suicide rate at Foxconn so low

        Probably the biggest factor that led to improvement was all the attention that the issue got a few years ago. The negative publicity for Apple and Foxconn forced changes, and even though the suicide nets got all the press the addition of counselors is likely what drove the rate down so much. Most of these Foxconn employees are far from family and friends, and the ones who are troubled and most at risk of suicide may also have trouble forming new friendships leaving them without anyone to talk to - until Foxconn talked to their employees about suicide and asked those who were troubled to talk to counselors without any fear of reprisal.

        At this point, instead of hand wringing about "heartless" people who call this one suicide a "statistic" and comparing Apple to Sauron, maybe the Reg should try to be a force for good and dig up some statistics for factories that make Dell laptops, or Linksys routers, or boards that go into your DVR. Demand they all make the same changes that Foxconn was forced to make. That would save far more lives than eliminating the last few suicides at the Foxconn plant would.

        But of course the Reg, smelling blood in the water from Apple's recent stock price correction, is getting back onto the "peak Apple" and Apple is the root of all evil bandwagons, preferring to win clicks by baiting fanboys than by actually doing something positive that might get them some attention and some readership outside their narrow geek niche.

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: "employees aren't statistics"

      "Errr, yes they are"

      Heartless. Reevaluate your life.

      C.

      1. Chris Evans

        Re: "employees aren't statistics"

        First and foremost he was a human being and will be mourned by his family and friends but he was also a statistic. Without accurate and appropriate statistics individual deaths and injuries can be glossed over. Every such incident should be investigated and see if things need changing but it is when something is statistically significant then more drastic action should be taken.

        Whilst the last three paragraphs of the article are appropriate responsible journalism I can't say that about the rest of the article or the headline.

        n.b. I used to work as a Psychiatric Nurse.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "employees aren't statistics"

          >n.b. I used to work as a Psychiatric Nurse.

          You really should try to get past that vicious resentment of Billie Piper. It's not at all becoming.

      2. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: "employees aren't statistics"

        "Heartless. Reevaluate your life."

        Complaining about one suicide in a factory in China while ignoring 40,000 suicides a year in the USA, ignoring 1,500 alone jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge with the town of San Francisco refusing to do anything about it for cost reasons, _that_ is brainless.

        And ignoring these things out of sheer stupidity is in my book heartless as well. You are a human. You have a brain. If you turn off your brain for an article like this one, ignoring what makes you most human, that is indeed heartless.

      3. Sean Timarco Baggaley

        Re: "employees aren't statistics"

        @diodesign:

        "Heartless. Reevaluate your life."

        If you really wanted to make the poor worker's death mean something, why write yet another ill-informed Apple-bashing click-bait piece that does precisely dick all to address the problem, and even attempts to suggest this is somehow Apple's fault, despite Apple owning neither China, nor Foxconn? The very opening line of this piece made it clear from the outset that you aren't even remotely interested in the suicide victim himself, but only in using him.

        So, with all due respect: fuck you and the high horse you rode in on.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "employees aren't statistics"

        "Heartless. Reevaluate your life."

        Says the guy behind the clickbait headline...

  8. RIBrsiq

    Surely it was Isengard where the fires of industry burnt...?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps he was trying out for Microsoft?

    Wanted to look flat.

  10. tempemeaty

    Corporate executives can stop this if they wanted to

    My condolences to the family of that person.

    I'm a heretic so I'm going to say this. Lets all pray together to God that the working conditions the people are subject to and their pay rates are made fair and humane. Every human life is precious.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Workplaces can be hell for some

    Management sometimes forget the human aspect.

    From my experience.

    Anon.

  12. DerekCurrie
    Unhappy

    So Apple. Are you ready to Get Out Of China yet?

    I've been ranting at Apple to Get Out Of China for several years. Sadly, the current methods of doing 'business' in the world require dirt cheap labor with the best possible quality of workers. That apparently means Chinese labor. *sigh*

    At least Apple demonstrates caring about their contracted cheap labor. It sure would be nice, by golly, if the insistent FUD Mongerers at The Register would pick on the many other companies that also hire Foxconn. But as we know, the price of fame is FUD. Kick 'em when they're up. Kick 'em when they're down. Nothing new for Apple.

    Meanwhile, the business incentive for cheap labor continues unabated.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So Apple. Are you ready to Get Out Of China yet?

      At some point it will be cheaper for them to have robots make the phones than humans. Then everyone will wail and gnash their teeth about how Apple is evil because a million people are out of a job since Apple replaced them with robots.

  13. AmGnothiSeauton

    Apples to Oranges

    How many US citizens choose to end their lives "at the office"?

    Might they do so in order to make a statement?

    1. Cronus

      Re: Apples to Oranges

      Whilst I'm certainly not part of this Apple witch hunt... How many US citizens live most of their lives "at the office"?

  14. trafalgar

    No more Apple products for me. It's disgusting that a premium brand is made in such a way. I could understand if they were made in the UK or USA and charge a premium price.

    Is it impossible to make electronics in the UK/USA?

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