With the iPhone 5 come new accusations of Foxconn abuse

September 16, 2012

In this May 26, 2010 file photo, staff members work on the production line at the Foxconn complex in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. China’s economy surged 10.3 percent in 2010, spurred by a torrent of investment in property and other areas that also fanned politically volatile inflation. Figures released Thursday Jan. 20, 2011, by the National Statistics Bureau showed inflation moderating in December from a 28-month high in November as food prices eased, but analysts warned that was likely temporary. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

The new iPhone 5 isn’t even on the shelves yet, and already Applehas seen its stock surge.

The company, which became the world’s most valuable publicly listed company ever in August, said it expects to offload up to 33 million units this quarter. Analysts say supply constraints won’t be a problem this time for the bigger, slimmer iPhone 5.

And while that’s good news for Apple’s shareholders, its bad news for anyone who may have been forced or poorly paid to make one of their products.

That’s right, Foxconn, the electronics company that manufacturers components for Apple, is also back in the news this week.

Chinese state-run media reported that the Taiwan-based company had forced university students to take internships at Foxconn factories to help make the new iPhone 5. Not long after that public relations blow, Foxconn revealed Wednesday that another Chinese worker committed suicide at one of its factories.

Foxconn says the worker “fell to his death” on Wednesday, and that it was “unclear” whether police were investigating the death as a suicide.

After a spate of suicides and repeated accusations of labor abuse, Foxconn agreed last March to improve the working conditions of its 1.2 million employees who make iPhones, iPads and other electronics. Foxconn said it would hire more workers to reduce overtime and improve safety and living conditions.

Both the China Daily and Shanghai Daily reported last week that classes had been suspended at some universities in eastern Jiangsu Province in order for students to be bused to factories to make up a shortfall in dwindling staff numbers.

In a statement provided to Bloomberg, the world’s largest electronics maker denied that the teenagers were forced to man production lines for the new iPhone.

Schools “recruit the students under the supervision of the local government, and assign teachers to accompany and monitor the students throughout their internship. The internship programs range in length from one to six months and students are free to leave the internship program at any time,” the statement read. Continue reading

In India: “Daughter of a Maoist”

29 October 2011

HOLDING ON TO HOPE Savera, around seven at the time, was told by the police that they would shoot her papa. All that her elder sister Ami could do was watch helplessly (Photo: IMA BABU)

Terrorised by the police, bereft of parents, evicted from school—what it means to be a 15-year-old daughter of parents ‘wanted’ by the State

by Shahina KK, Open Magazine

I first met her when she was around 10 or 11 months old. Her mother Shyna was a friend and source. At the time, Shyna was an upper division clerk in the High Court. She was also an activist trying to set up a trade union in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Kochi. As a TV reporter, I had frequent contact with Shyna. She often gave me story tips from the SEZ, to which the media didn’t have much access. Her little girl was called Ameranta. I found the name odd. Many of our common friends thought likewise. We advised Shyna to change the name. I remember telling Shyna that when the child grew up, she would dislike this name.

After 15 years, when I met the girl, she was not Ameranta but Ami. The name was changed when she started school. The repeated advice of her friends had made Shyna do it. I asked Ami whether she knew what her former name was. She said she knew and regretted not having that beautiful name. I shrank inside and did not say anything. When I returned home. I googled the name Ameranta and read the meaning. It was the ‘flower that never fades’. Continue reading