Labour groups hold vigil for Foxconn's Shenzhen dead

As consumers around the world continue queuing to hand over money for Apple products, a candle-lit vigil was held in Taipei calling for Cupertino get its act together with corporate responsibility.

Image credit PTS News Network

The Cold-Tech grassroots labour action group held the protest to highlight the harsh treatment and poor conditions that workers at Apple supplier Foxconn still endure. It was also remembrance for the Shenzhen workers who took their own lives. 

A string of suicide attempts, many of them resulting in death, saw Foxconn make headlines all over the world but that has since fallen from the news agenda. 

SACOM, Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour, recently filed a report which opened old wounds, reminding the world that Foxconn’s customers – notably Apple, HP and Dell – continue to work with a company which allegedly underpays and mistreats its staff.

In it, workers were described as being treated “like machines.”

It suggests any well-dones and back patting Foxconn has received from the international community may have arrived too soon, with “militant management” still entrenched in the factories.

Apple said last year, amidst the suicides, that Foxconn is not a sweatshop. But the grass-roots labour campaigners do not seem to agree. 

This protest comes alongside calls from Make IT Fair to take action in Europe with a view to pressuring Apple for more responsibility.

Make IT Fair believes Apple does have control over the actions of its suppliers, to a point. The demands are that it should improve purchasing practices by introducing fair unit prices.

Make IT Fair is also asking for Apple to engage with local labour rights groups in China, where demonstrations are widely repressed, in order to improve working conditions. 

There are other plans for direct action worldwide today including across Europe and in Mexico. 

Foxconn billionaire chairman Terry Gou has been quoted as saying: “Work itself is a type of joy,” “hungry people have especially clear minds” and “a harsh environment is a good thing”.