My laptop is made by Dell and I use an Ipod to listen to music and to learn and play birdsongs. So the column by business writer Al Lewis about Chinese factory workers jumping to their deaths hit me where I live.
The factory in Shenzhen, China is operated by Foxconn, which assembles iPods, Dell and Hewlett-Packard computers as well as video games by Sony and Nintendo. The article and photo caption report that activists blame the suicides on assembly line exhaustion.
The electronics companies say they are investigating claims that migrant workers are wooed from poor rural areas, housed in dormitories and then driven at punishing speeds to meet quotas from militaristic managers. But they must do more, both for the good of these workers and to protect their reputation.
The Foxconn CEO said he has hired many counselors, established a buddy system and handed out raises. But he also said the suicide rate is normal, given the hundreds of thousands he employs. This attitude is unconscionable.
Nike's reputation was hurt when it was revealed that their shoes were being assembled in sweatshop conditions. The company was forced to hire inspectors to visit the factories to verify that conditions had improved to continue contracting to make the shoes.
The electronics industry must meet an equally high standard of accountability and transparency to ensure that workers are not driven to death by inhumane working conditions.
It is the right thing to do — and the right choice to protect their reputations and the bottom line. For the full story, click here