Why Foxconn is crucial to the tech industry

foxconn_2106070b Around 150 workers at a Foxconn factory in Wuhan spent two days on the roof in a protest over plans to move them to a new production line.

Their threat to jump en masse recalls a cluster of suicides at Foxconn in 2010, which prompted serious concern from its customers in the West, who include Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and HP.

Foxconn is the world's largest electronics manufacturer, and employs more than a million people.

It is one of very few firms in the world with the expertise and scale to build cutting-edge devices such as the iPhone, Kindle and Xbox 360 at low cost. As such the technology industry cannot operate without its legions of low-paid assembly line workers.

“After talking with workers and management, it is our understanding that the worker protest was related to staffing assignments and transfer policies, not working conditions,” Microsoft said this week about the latest incident of staff unrest.

Western technology firms have taken a closer interest in how Foxconn treats its staff in recent years, as stories of mistreatment and suicides have attracted global headlines. After the 2010 suicides, Apple pressure the firm to boost wages and improve staff welfare progams.

The fact remains, however, that the large profit margins Apple and its rivals enjoy are based on low-cost labour provided by Foxconn.

The Telegraph

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