Foxconn has announced that it would shift part of its Apple production from Shenzen to northern Tianjin and central Henan province, where it plans to build a new plant and recruit around 300,000 workers.
The Shenzen plant, which produces Apple iPods, iPhones and iPads has become somewhat notorious after a spate of highly publicized suicides. Foxconn has reportedly erected anti suicide deaths to discourage depressed workers from leaping from their dormitories. The company has also announced several pay increases in past weeks in an effort to dismiss criticism about working conditions.
It’s worth noting that the massive Shenzen plant is home to 420,000 workers. Statistically, some of them are bound to take their own lives. According to the World Health Organization, China’s suicide rate is around 13 per 100,000 residents, so ten suicides in the first half of 2010 fall within the national average. However, most media outlets conveniently forget to check their facts and do the math, as sensationalism and human misery simply pay better.
The big idea behind Foxconn’s ambitious plans for a new super plant is not suicide prevention, but rather cost reduction. The cost of living in China’s inland provinces such as Henan is significantly lower than in Shenzen and the minimum wage is also some 37 percent lower. The minimum wage in Shenzen will be raised to $225 next month, while Henan’s minimum wage is around $165 and with 300,000 workers on the payroll, every cent makes a huge difference.