Foxconn protest disrupts Computex Taipei opening

A woman demonstrator unfurls a protest sign reading 'Put an end to blood and sweat factories, return to a happy society' while a portrait of Terry Gou, chief of Foxconn, is displayed during a rally outside an exhibition hall in Taipei on June 1, 2010

Wed, Jun 02, 2010
The China Post/Asia News Network

TAIPEI, TAIWAN – Scuffles erupted in Taiwan yesterday as activists alleging labor abuses by IT giant Foxconn tried to enter an exhibition centre where President Ma Ying-jeou was opening Asia’s biggest technology fair.

The protesters, who were shouting “Capitalists kill people” and holding placards and pictures of Foxconn chief Terry Gou, fought with uniformed police as they tried to deliver a letter to Ma while he launched Computex Taipei.

Five other IT tycoons, including Apple chief executive Steve Jobs and Cher Wang, chairwoman of Taiwan’s leading smartphone maker HTC Corp, were also targeted.

Foxconn, a unit of the Hon Hai group, makes a range of popular products including Apple iPhones, Dell computers and Nokia mobile phones.

“All the products on display at the exhibition inside are made with workers’ sweat and blood,” demonstration leader Liu Nien-yun told reporters. “That’s why we’re here.”

They were campaigning as 10 workers at a Foxconn plant in the Chinese city of Shenzhen have fallen to their deaths in apparent suicides this year. An 11th worker died at a factory run by the firm in northern China.

Demonstrations over the deaths have also taken place in Hong Kong.

The deaths have raised questions about the conditions for millions of factory workers in China, especially at Foxconn, where the activists say long hours, low pay and high pressure are the norm.

But the accusation of “blood and sweat” has been flatly rejected by Gou, who for the first time last week organized a tour of the Shenzhen plant.

The firm is planning to give its staff a 20 per cent pay rise as it battles to stem the spate of suicides, according to Taiwanese media. The conglomerate employs more than 800,000 people worldwide.

The five-day Computex Taipei, which has attracted more than 1,700 exhibitors, features 4,861 booths and is expected to get around 120,000 visitors, including 35,000 international buyers, organizers say.

They expect the fair to generate around US$20 billion ($28.18 billion) in business.

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