Many a gadget freak has claimed 'I would kill for an iPad' over the last few weeks, but as the world officially goes iPad crazy ask your self this: would you die for an iPad? That's the rather serious question being asked as the Chinese factory where the iPad is made comes under increasing scrutiny concerning the number of suicides amongst the workers there.
According to The Morning Star "Bosses at Apple contractor Foxconn admitted that at least 10 of their workers had now committed suicide while another 20 had tried to take their own lives at work" and the Daily Mail reports how a 17 year old girl lies crippled in a hospital bed a couple of miles away from the factory after leaping "from her fourth-floor dormitory rather than take her place on the production line" just 40 days after starting work at what is believed to be the largest factory in the world.
The number of suicides has risen to 12 since the Morning Star covered the story and the Independent claims "The deaths are thought to be related to working conditions at the plant – long hours for poor pay and constant pressure to perform" and The Telegraph reckons "the hysteria at Longhua, where between 300,000 and 400,000 employees eat, work and sleep, has grown to such a pitch that workers have twisted Foxconn’s Chinese name so that it now sounds like: Run to your Death."
Rather incredibly, and some might say lacking in empathy, the billionaire chairman of Foxconn parent company Hon Hai Precision, Terry Gou, told Forbes.com "Generally, the suicide rate in a society will increase when its GDP rises". That said, Gou also told the Times of India "I can't sleep every night. From a scientific point of view, I'm not confident we can stop every case. But, as a responsible employer, we have to take up the responsibility of preventing as many as we can".
Yet at the same time, relatives of some of those who were unsuccessful in their suicide attempts, such as the parents of that 17 year old mentioned earlier, claim they have been told not to speak to the media or Foxconn will stop paying her medical expenses.
Apples take on all this? A spokesperson says "We are saddened and upset by the recent suicides at Foxconn. Apple is deeply committed to ensuring that conditions throughout our supply chain are safe and workers are treated with respect and dignity".