Wednesday, February 22, 2012

An Open Letter to Reporters Covering the Foxconn Story

Why use a headline like the one shown below when midway through the article you contradict it?

5th Paragraph: Let’s be clear: SACOM isn’t alleging that Foxconn is hiding workers under 16, which would be a major child labor issue. Instead, the group says the supplier simply moved slightly older workers around to avoid scrutiny from the FLA. It makes sense for Foxconn to shape up in preparation for a highly publicized inspection.
And this is from the Washington Post!

In my opinion, Foxconn has responded to each internal labor problem and subsequent criticism both private and public, with agressive and positive responses, and also by never doing the very illegal things implied.

The real story about Apple and Foxconn is that instead of employing hundreds of thousands of workers nearby Apple's headquarters in California, the company has found that Foxconn can compete better on both price and performance in China. Hence the questions reporters might ask are why that is so and what can we do about it.

The underlying issue for Foxconn is how they intend to cope with their ever-increasing labor needs stemming from the success of Apple products. Robotics is one solution which they have embraced and will be bringing onboard over the next 3 years. They hope to preclude the need to add workers by the deployment of 1 million robots and, for those displaced by the robots, move them up the chain and pay scale and capitalize on their experience at Foxconn thus far.

Further reading:
The Future of Chinese-manufactured Apple Products, 1/30/12,
Huge employer in China makes big step toward robots, 11/17/11, The Christian Science Monitor
In China, land of cheap labor, a push for robots, 8/24/11, The Christian Science Monitor
Foxconn to deploy 1 million robots - what does it mean?, 8/14/11,