The suicide nets are still there. Foxconn, the giant electronics manufacturing subcontractor, installed them in 2010, a year when fourteen workers died after jumping from the ledges and windows of crowded dormitories. In addition to the wide mesh nets, stretched low over the streets of Foxconn’s company towns, the corporation has twenty-four-hour “care centers,” “no suicide agreements,” and a psychological test to screen out potentially suicidal workers, charged to the job applicant. It has raised wages significantly, but only in the face of runaway inflation, steep hikes in the minimum wage, and mounting worker unrest. Media attention and pressure from Apple, one of its main customers, backed up by a program of regular factory audits, seem to be driving incremental improvements in working conditions.
03 April 2013