LONDON – Three workers have died and 15 more are injured as a result of an explosion at a factory in Chengdu, China belonging to leading Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn.
The cause of the explosion, which happened at about 7:20 pm local time on Friday May 20, is reported to have been a combustible dust mixture in a duct.
The factory is reported to have recently started production of the iPad2 tablet computer for Apple Inc. Apple has reportedly said it is working with Foxconn to try and understand the cause of the explosion.
The factory is said to be responsible for less than 30 percent of the total Apple iPad2 production.
The explosion will draw attention to Foxconn's problematic history of employment in China.
The company has been dogged by scandal during 2010, including 13 reported suicide attempts among workers at its Longhua campus. Foxconn manufactures many different products on behalf of Apple as well as cell phones for a number of leading brands and games consoles for Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft.
The company has at least 800,000 employees in China, including 430,000 in Shenzhen, It said it would increase wages significantly in Shenzhen and stop employing additional people there after the reports of suicides and suicide attempts raised suspicions about working and living conditions.
Foxconn is behemoth employing enough people to populate a large city. It is not surprising that they have accidents like this, since it is not totally avoidable. But we should not just jump to conclusions since these types of industrial accidents are not totally unexpected and these events will only make them adoopt better practices. How much safe is safe really, it's a trade off or risk vs cost and every company does this calculation based on their estimates.
So stop the blam game.
Paulyvee, you are correct: industrial accidents are not new, nor are they eliminated entirely by stricter laws in the US or EU or elsewhere. Foxconn's accident is being discussed because of two factors: one is the widespread reporting of China's less-than-stellar concern with workers (or even with the safety of their products) and secondly, Apple's glitzy, almost sanctimonious hype about what great products they make for "the people". Hey, maybe China is trying to improve its working conditions. Maybe Apple (whatever "Apple" means in this statement) does care about its workers and its customers. I'd discount the first statement as naivete and hype, and the second as hype and naivete, however. But then, I'm just a wee bit cynical. Apple doesn't seem to sell junky hardware, BTW. Its products are nicely built.
So industrial accidents are not new. Why is this one news. Any deaths or injuries are regretable but why this one. Is it Foxconn - to be knocked at this time - China - knock them because they have a poor history or because of the liason with Apple. Not sure but I cannot see why all the hoo-haa.
A piss-head goes on the motorway and causes an accident claiming 5 and injuring a further six and it does not make it out of the local paper.
From what one hears the Chinese are making a real effort to drap a lot of their ancient practices into the current century and so are a lot of the local employers. Not there yet but they seem to be trying. Some British and American manufacturers are not blaimless even given the apparently much stricter laws so leave them alone. Although it is a good excuse for knocking the country when they are able to steal our production on the grounds of being more competitive be it for lower costs or better products or whatever reason.
Problem is that even if you knock them we would be unlikely to get production back if it stops there
Don't forget that none of this would be possible if consumers weren't interested in the latest and greatest rubbish regardless of where or how it was produced. If consumers in the US boycotted products built in China, they would be built elsewhere. Whether this would accomplish much or not, it's hard to say.
Foxconn bids orders by taking lowest margin,so no surprise if they cut corners on safety or worker welfare. The most savvy US companies like HP and Apple outsource to the lowest cost bidders, of which Foxconn is the champion.
Apple has shown again and again that it's toys come before human life.
There is the blood and sweat of the underpaid and over-worked chinese employees all over Apples Products.
As long as the Apple machine moves smoothly despite loss of life then Apple is happy and so are their investors. The Board and investors are just as much to blame since they do have a say.
Even given the industrial accidents in the U.S. the employees and their families have legal recourse.
In China the wounded if unable to even work again will just have to be taken care of by the next of kin. If there is none then they are just S.O.L..
You hit the nail on the head. Apple (ie; Steve Jobs) agressively seeks and gets the lowest cost suppliers and manufacturers that they think can deliver.
To Jobs and Apple the death of 3 workers and wounding of 15 more is more of a logistical concern rather than a humane concern.
With Apples large production it would make little sense (no pun intended) to have it made here where employees would earn a decent wage (even at minimum wage) and would have to be concerned about what disciplines they would take for a rogue employee, where in China they simply disappear.
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