Written by Brian Welk
07 Monday 07th June 2010
Oh yes, the iPad is so shiny and revolutionary. It can cook you breakfast and paint your house. It’s everything we ever wanted and all we have to do is pledge our eternal allegiance to Steve Jobs and Apple. The iPad is perfect so long as it doesn’t kill you first.
Granted, the 10 recent suicides at Foxconn, the Chinese factory where many iPads are produced, were not directly caused by Apple’s current God-like stature in the world, and Jobs is being more than sympathetic to understanding the working conditions that would’ve prompted these deaths. But these scary incidents are prompting some people to ask questions and remind you that the iPad is hardly the perfect 2001-esque monolith it’s made out to be. So what actually caused these suicides? We have some theories.
Poor working conditions
According to Jobs, “Foxconn is not a sweatshop,” but it could still be hell to work there. A majority of the Foxconn employees work 12 hour days for six days a week, and the assembly line workers on the entry level have a salary of roughly £90 a month. That’s actually above minimum wage, but one decision to improve morale has been to offer workers a 30 percent pay raise.
Idiotic coping methods
The fact that Foxconn is taking any steps to lowering the suicide rate is a good thing, and the introduction of a suicide hotline and pumping music into the factory was a smart step. But some of these initiatives have been plain ridiculous. Buddhist monks have been brought in to calm people down and employees are allowed to vent by beating a punching bag with a photo of their supervisor on it. The worst measure yet however, which was almost approved by Foxconn and the Chinese government was it not for public outcry, was requiring employees to sign a waiver saying they would promise not to commit suicide. If they did, their families would receive fewer bereavement benefits.
Meeting the national average
Perhaps there was a race to meet China’s average suicide rates. According to the Chinese Health Ministry, 12 people for every 100,000 commit suicide in China, and with only 10 suicides within their over 500,000 employees, Foxconn is well within the limits. But that doesn’t explain why in previous years, suicide attempts jumped from one or two.
Helping the enemy
Foxconn is also responsible for manufacturing Dell and Nokia products, and with Apple finally surpassing Microsoft to become the world’s largest technology company by market value, does anyone want to guess if there’s a feeling of guilt going around?
It’s your fault!
The iPad sold 2 million units in the UK alone, and it is quickly becoming the most popular gadget ever released, only short of Motorola’s Razr phone. There have been shortages of the tablet, and Foxconn is even supposed to bring in 100,000 new employees to help meet demands. Don’t you realize you’re working these people to the bone?
There’s an App for that.”
What’s the latest iPad accessory? The “Come Into the Light” app.

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