Economy & Politic
“Taiwan iPhone manufacturer replaces Chinese workers with robots”
By Tania Branigan in Beijing Published: 1 August, 2011
The electronics manufacturer Foxconn has been accused of treating its workers like machines as they toil on assembly lines, particularly after a spate of suicides among its Chinese employees in recent years. Now the company, best known for producing iPhones and other hi-tech gadgets, has found a solution: use robots instead. The Taiwanese company has vowed to expand automation in its plants, with Chinese state media reporting plans to use a million robots in the next three years.
The news highlights questions about the future of China's Pearl river delta, "the factory of the world". Its low-cost, high-employment model has transformed the international economy, sucking in manufacturing from around the globe, and keeping down inflation in other countries through the flow of cheap exports. As the world's biggest contract electronics maker, whose other clients include Sony, Nokia, Dell and Hewlett Packard, Foxconn has become an emblem of global manufacturing's ups and downs in China. It expanded at apparently unstoppable pace – with its mainland workforce growing from 600,000 just after the financial crisis to a million – but has faced increasing costs and growing criticism of working conditions. Ten workers killed themselves in the space of a few months at the company's main plant in southern China last year. Another fell to his death there last month.
FULL ARTICLE : http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/01/foxconn-robots-replace-chinese-workers