46 suicides at France Telecom, 9 at Foxconn - the human cost of cheap bandwidth and gadgets?

46 suicides at France Telecom, 9 at Foxconn - the human cost of cheap bandwidth and gadgets?

Summary: Foxconn isn't the only tech company with large numbers of staff suicides, French Telecom has a much bigger problem...

SHARE:
TOPICS: CXO, IT Employment
13

Foxconn, the Chinese manufacturer of electronics products for Apple and many others, has reported 9 suicides among its workforce and is fighting allegations of being a sweatshop.

It's not the only tech company with a suicide problem, France Telecom's is much higher, with 46 suicides, and now a government investigation.

Both sets of suicides are blamed on work place stress.

The Real Truth Behind Foxconn’s Suicide Cluster » M.I.C Gadget

The Foxconn suicide mess is all started from job stress. Within half a year, there are 9 suicides with 7 confirmed-deaths in Foxconn’s factory of China, Shenzhen. In order to find out what’s really going on in that factory, the Southern Weekly, described by The New York Times as China’s most influential liberal newspaper, has sent an amateur reporter to slip into Foxconn’s factory to pretend as a worker and the mission is to find out the truth of the suicide cluster.

FT.com / UK - Fresh probe on France Telecom suicides

The Paris prosecutor's office has opened an investigation into allegations of "workplace harassment" at France Telecom following a spate of suicides at the company, it emerged yesterday.

The former monopoly is also being investigated for failing to document properly the health risks facing its employees.

...In 2008 and 2009, 35 of the company's employees committed suicide, laying bare a deep crisis in morale among its 100,000-strong French workforce. The crisis has continued, with a further 11 employees taking their own lives since the beginning of 2010.

Stéphane Richard, France Telecom's new chief executive, told the Financial Times last month that there would probably be further suicides.

Is this the price of progress? Will we see suicides increase at other companies too?

The global work force, whether in China or France ... or in the US, is under ever increasing pressure to become more productive, and companies are forced to get rid of workers that can't keep up with the pace of production.

Laws that protect employees from losing their jobs aren't a good solution, as shown in France. French employers will sometimes make life unpleasant for staff, hoping they will leave.

Is this price in human lives worth the cost of low-priced bandwidth and cheap electronic gadgets?

Topics: CXO, IT Employment

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

13 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: 46 suicides at France Telecom, 9 at Foxconn - the human cost of cheap bandwidth and gadgets?

    Where are their unions?
    arq1
    • RE: 46 suicides at France Telecom, 9 at Foxconn - the human cost of cheap bandwidth and gadgets?

      @arq1

      They are not the solution but part of the problem. During their inception, unions were a boon to the worker, but over time they morphed into part of the problem. The mob, and many other criminal elements have their beginning in the union. The constant drive to increase benefits and pay have undermined the United States ability to compete on a global scale.

      This has made it possible for corporations to ship manufacturing off to other nations where there are no unions and where basic human rights barely exist. The modern societies drive to over consume coupled with unions and corrupt government and business practices have created the perfect storm for not only the suicides we just read about, but for the economic disaster facing the entire planet.

      And guess what... look in the mirror, every single one of you. We are all complicit in these deaths with our greed and demand for more money and cheaper commodities. ]:)
      Linux User 147560
      • The human cost of greed

        @Linux User 147560

        [i]They are not the solution but part of the problem. During their inception, unions were a boon to the worker, but over time they morphed into part of the problem.[/i]

        Separating the good from the bad remains the problem, now as in the past.

        [i]The mob, and many other criminal elements have their beginning in the union. [/i]

        So too do the socialists, marxists and communists the world over.

        [i]The constant drive to increase benefits and pay have undermined the United States ability to compete on a global scale.[/i]

        True but equally so, one could point to the insane compensation and excessive perks modern executives draw, the insanity growing larger the higher up the scale you go. The American based multi-nationals are the worse, towering over most of their corporate counterparts the world over.

        Their greed, and the pay differential as weighed from the top to the bottom of the food chain in these companies, borders on the criminal.
        klumper
      • Postscript

        @Linux User 147560 <br><br>[Would have included this last bit on previous post, but for some inexplicable reason, it refuses to take with the rest. Instead I get the ever present <b>ERROR ON PAGE</b> syndrome as viewed from the status bar - yet this same text will post separately, as evidenced here. Go figure.]<br><br><i>The modern societies drive to over consume coupled with unions and corrupt government and business practices have created the perfect storm for not only the suicides we just read about, but for the economic disaster facing the entire planet.</i><br><br>Sad but true.
        klumper
    • RE: 46 suicides at France Telecom, 9 at Foxconn - the human cost of cheap bandwidth and gadgets?

      @arq1
      Thanks very much! <a href="http://www.replicawatchesbest.org">imitation Watches</a>
      yantangseo
  • RE: 46 suicides at France Telecom, 9 at Foxconn - the human cost of cheap bandwidth and gadgets?

    Or it's simply another example of the well known Texas sharpshooter fallacy (cf. cancer clusters). You compound that by making two more logical errors - denominator neglect (talking about absolute numbers of suicides instead of suicide rates) and confusing correlation (some people who committed suicide worked for specific companies) with causation (working for those companies caused those people to commit suicide).

    But hey, it requires actual work to see if the effect is real in the quantitative statistical sense. No time for that when you're moving at blogspeed.
    TheNudger
    • RE: 46 suicides at France Telecom, 9 at Foxconn - the human cost of cheap bandwidth and gadgets?

      @TheNudger

      You finished a accurate closing stage by <a href="http://www.shoppharmacycounter.com/">weight loss pills</a>, good job!
      weightlosspills
  • Is this price in human lives worth the cost...

    <i>"Is this price in human lives worth the cost of low-priced bandwidth and cheap electronic gadgets?"</i>

    It depends. Perhaps the price of not having low-priced bandwidth and cheap electronic gadgets would be even higher, who knows.
    OS Reload
    • Huh?!!??!

      @OS Reload We are talking about France here. You know, that socialist paradise where they have a 35 hour work week by law. Yup, France. Are you saying that that's where our "cheap electronic gadgets" are coming from?
      cornpie
  • RE: 46 suicides at France Telecom, 9 at Foxconn - the human cost of cheap bandwidth and gadgets?

    The suicide rate in France is 17.6 per 100,000. With a staff of 100,000, over a two year period you would expect therefore ... 35 suicides.

    Not trying to be callous here, only point out that this is a sad, but not altogether unusual, suicide rate.
    njoho
    • Yeah, hard to see how this number is statistically significant

      The male rate in France (according to Wikipedia) is 25.5 per 100K. For the Chinese, the general population has 14 suicides per 100K.

      I'm not sure where the story is here, except to point out the large workforces here have about the same suicide rate as the general population.
      Takalok
  • RE: 46 suicides at France Telecom, 9 at Foxconn - the human cost of cheap bandwidth and gadgets?

    What is the real price of progress? ]:)
    Linux User 147560
  • RE: 46 suicides at France Telecom, 9 at Foxconn - the human cost of cheap bandwidth and gadgets?

    agree with nick.holmes on rate of suicides in general population
    w_b