What Price The iPad Now in China?

One news item carried in much of the mainstream press this week has been the series of suicides committed by workers at Foxconn Technology Group who operate a number of production plants in Asia. For the most part, this week, the publishing world and technology media sites have focused on the launch of the international release of the iPad with little mention, if any at all, of this extraordinary story.

I wonder if such an occurrence happened in an electronics plant in Seattle, New York, Tennessee or Milton Keynes, would the reaction be so placid or indifferent. Of course, there are a great deal of reasons why it would not have happened in so-called developed countries. Actually, China is pretty developed when it comes to having production and print facilities serving the publishing industry.

From today’s Independent in the UK:

“The electronics company which owns factories in China where several workers have committed suicide said yesterday that it will increase workers’ wages by an average of 20 per cent.

Foxconn Technology Group, a Taiwanese firm which employs about 800,000 workers in China, said the pay rise could help lift morale.

Ten workers have killed themselves and three have attempted suicide at Foxconn’s plants in southern China this year. Another worker in northern China also committed suicide this year. The basic salary at the Chinese factories of Foxconn, which makes iPhones and other popular gadgets, including Apple’s new iPad device, is about 900 yuan (£90) a month.”

While the Independent newspaper report places a great deal of focus on wages, the reality has far more to do with working conditions and the length of the workers’ shifts. The suggestion and the question being asked in many concerned quarters is; are the pressures of production of components for the iPad linked to this? As far back as early April, FastCompany.com were asking this very question:

“The most recent incident happened yesterday, with an 18-year-old new worker called Rao jumping from factory buildings. A tree broke her fall, so she survived but is reported to be severely injured. On March 29th, a worker called Liu leaped from his dormitory window, wearing his Foxconn factory shirt, and on March 11th a man named Li killed himself by leaping from a building. On March 7th a female worker named Tian jumped out of her dormitory, but survived. Tian cited extreme pressure as her motivation, and Chinese media notes that Li had his bonus pay stolen at Chinese new year, while Rao is alleged to have been fighting with her boyfriend before the incident.”

I am just staggered how a mainstream news story has been largely, and perhaps conveniently, passed over by the media press who specifically cover publishing and technology.
Is the publishing world, and specifically Apple, happy to trod along knowing the sales of iPads will always outstrip the number of suicides recorded and provide the chosen news story?  

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