Foxconn chairman compares his workforce to 'animals'

Foxconn chairman compares his workforce to 'animals'

Summary: In an ill-worded statement, the chairman of Foxconn's parent company compared his workforce to 'animals' and sought management advice from the director of Taipei Zoo.

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TOPICS: CXO, IT Employment
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"Hon Hai has a workforce of over one million and as human beings are also animals, to manage one million animals gives me a headache," said Terry Gou, chairman of Taiwan's Hon Hai, the parent company of Foxconn.

This was his statement at the end of year party, and considering recent events in Foxconn; Gou picked a regrettable choice of words.

Unfortunately, what could just be poor wording is made much worse by the fact that he also suggested he wanted to learn management techniques from Chin Shin-Chien, director of Tapei Zoo.

To make matters worse, he invited Chin to speak and asked his general managers to listen to his advice, as well as inviting him to take part in his company's annual review.

Gou and his general managers apparently listened carefully as Chin provided advice as to how to manage different types of animals, and asked Chin to put himself in the position of Hon Hai's chairman. It seems, unfortunately, there's a bit more than just jest to this analogy.

Foxconn has been under scrutiny for the past two years after a series of suicides. Human rights organisations have criticised the company for their poor work practices, employee safety and alleged management negligence.

Just last week, 300 Foxconn workers threatened to commit suicide in Foxconn's Wuhan plant over wages and working conditions, and were eventually coaxed down by the mayor of Wuhan after two days.

The incident has continued to raise awareness over conditions at Foxconn. It has also forced companies that source their parts from the Chinese factories to come under criticism themselves, with big names like Apple and Microsoft being singled out.

Though, as TechCrunch notes, a lot may be "lost in translation" here. This rather unfortunate statement will not do much to quell concerns about Foxconn. Nor, I think, will they be very comforting for workers at the factories.

A vice-president for Hon Hai provided a much more comfortable explanation of their management issues. He stated: "It's a tough job to manage a workforce of over one million, young people's hearts in China are hard to get hold of."

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Topics: CXO, IT Employment

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45 comments
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  • RE: Foxconn chairman compares his workforce to 'animals'

    who cares. the disease of political correctness is curable by just ignoring those that take everything you and spin it into whatever makes it sound the worst. Next.
    Godmocker
    • RE: Foxconn chairman compares his workforce to 'animals'

      @Godmocker So comparing those men and women to animals is okay? Really? Dude not only are you a tool you are the entire tool bag.

      So what's next Gou, opening a petting zoo containing the tamest of your work force?
      athynz
      • Can't tell from here

        Unless he compared "humans" to "animals" in the English language, you have no idea what the connotations are. You're imposing a value judgement that is fairly clear when rendered in English, but is not transferable. In the scientific sense, it is true that humans are animals. It may be that in Chinese, that distinction is not the big deal it seems to be for you.

        Besides, we have entirely too many people in the English-speaking countries who will tell us how much they value humans, all the while trying to practice "eat your spinach" style animal husbandry on them (for their own good, of course). A pox on them.
        Robert Hahn
      • RE: Foxconn chairman compares his workforce to 'animals'

        @Robert Hahn He also brought in the director of the Zoo to get management pointers... so yeah I can tell from here.
        athynz
    • RE: Foxconn chairman compares his workforce to 'animals'

      @Godmocker - once you are affected you'll change your tune.
      HypnoToad72
  • it's just envy and political correctness non sense

    peddled by liberal media in this country.
    Punishing corporate success and putting the the capitalism on trial is why we are falling behind. We should eliminate regulations in USA too and not apologize for it one bit. Add tax cuts and that would usher an unprecedented job creation. For that we need a new conservative leadership in Washington.
    The Linux Geek
    • RE: Foxconn chairman compares his workforce to 'animals'

      @The Linux Geek
      ??? You have gone insane?
      That was tried 100 years ago. When 8 year olds worked in the mines. Brought USSR to life.
      kirovs@...
      • RE: Foxconn chairman compares his workforce to 'animals'

        @kirovs@... <br>I'm talking about common sense regulation like eliminating the minimum wage, repealing obamacare, curbing union goons and teaching work ethics in school.
        The Linux Geek
      • RE: Foxconn chairman compares his workforce to 'animals'

        @kirovs@... He's just a troll pretending to be an ultra-right wing wingnut and die-hard Linux fan. He's neither.
        jgm@...
    • RE: Foxconn chairman compares his workforce to 'animals'

      @The Linux Geek ---
      more tax cuts on top of their subsidies we taxpayers already pay for?

      Sure.

      You may start being competitive by reducing your wage to 50c/hr and worming 100 hr weeks too.

      You are just another animal.

      How does it feel?
      HypnoToad72
      • RE: Foxconn chairman compares his workforce to 'animals'

        @HypnoToad72
        the Regan years have shown us how tax cuts and less regulation created 11 million jobs. It was 'morning in America' and everyone was feeling good back than, not sheeps like now!
        The Linux Geek
      • RE: Foxconn chairman compares his workforce to 'animals'

        @ The Linux Geek <br>no, he didn't. again, that history thing. reagan lowered then raised the holy hail out of tax's. 11 million? again, history.
        oneleft
    • Nobody's talking about regulation

      @The Linux Geek <br>But in an unregulated environment, corporate executives are fully responsible for their actions. Foxconn certainly can't blame Big Bad Government for interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign corporation in this case, leaving Mr. Gou with nobody to blame, but himself.<br><br>Reply to LG:<br><br>With employers like Foxconn, we might see a revived interest in trade unionism. I don't really like unions (much better for employers to earn the confidence of their employees), but some employers deserve them.<br><br>Reply to Peter:<br><br>I meant morally responsible. In theory, Foxconn is legally responsible too, but law in mainland China is little more than the whims of the Communist Party bosses, and apparently, they have no objections to how Foxconn treats its workers.<br><br>I don't believe there's a country in the world where laizezz faire has endured for more than a few decades (fifty years at most). I figure that there's a reason for that and it's not outside agitators.
      John L. Ries
      • RE: Foxconn chairman compares his workforce to 'animals'

        @John L. Ries
        Mr. Gou and FoxConn should be praised for their outstanding success not blamed. I can not wait for more venture capitalists like him to set up shop in America and create tens of millions of jobs.
        The Linux Geek
      • RE: Foxconn chairman compares his workforce to 'animals'

        @John L. Ries -

        I'm not keen on unions either (they too have moments of greed and corruption), but they are a necessary evil.

        Humanity clearly has not evolved to a point where those who say "Unions are no longer necessary" are consciously telling the truth. (Or, rather, their ignorance of what companies do to bypass regulations and even middle class wages, which allow people to actually buy their products - since a "demand-side" is rarely discussed anywhere nowadays... or the lack thereof... especially in articles discussing the latest corporate bankruptcy due to "fewer customers"... )
        HypnoToad72
      • RE: Foxconn chairman compares his workforce to 'animals'

        Yes. Let's put our workers in conditions that cause them to commit suicide. THEN things will get better. What a great idea! OH...and in unregulated environment, executives are responsible for their actions...except there are no regulations with which to punish them for their actions. You people suggest this crazy crap because you know it will not affect YOU, only those "animals" who work in "unskilled" positions. Let them eat cake! And let them leap from the top of the factory...
        peter@...
    • wow

      @The Linux Geek
      can you throw in a few more sound bites? liberal media? capitalism on trial? deregulation? tax cuts?
      have you applied for a job at fox news yet?

      me thinks a little less conservative media and a little more history would do you some good.
      oneleft
      • RE: Foxconn chairman compares his workforce to 'animals'

        @oneleft
        History is on my side as the Regan era has shown.
        Lame stream media will never tell you the truth and are never fair and balanced in presidential campaigns.
        The Linux Geek
      • RE: Foxconn chairman compares his workforce to 'animals'

        @ The Linux Geek<br>do you have anything with substance? anything at all? repeating what your handlers have told you to say simply will not do. but hey, thanks for yet another sound bite: lame stream media. your's is a singular mind, i'm sure.<br><br>history is most assuredly not on your side. again, less rubbish and more facts.
        oneleft
      • RE: Foxconn chairman compares his workforce to 'animals'

        @The Linux Geek - I lived through the Reagan era and he never proposed anything that you are claiming. He raised the deficit, raised taxes and the minimum wage. Please take your troll and move on. You know nothing of history. You are only embarrassing yourself now.
        fldbryan@...