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?

The price of progress seems to be human dignity, to be pressed to such lows and to work so hard for so little.

Perhaps it is time we truly take the ideas based economy that politicians have been talking about and put it to work. Sooner or later these people who are pressed to such lows will push back and that can’t be good. The last thing we need is a bunch of neo-communist Bolshevik revolution.

Perhaps now is a time to invest in robotics so we can delegate such tasks to machines and invest more on education to uplift people from such bottom end jobs. Robotics is not cheap but if nobody takes the first step to make it commercially viable, it will never be viable.

Just my thoughts on this.

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