Foxconn, the Chinese manufacturing contractor that often produces Apple’s newfangled iDevices, has decided that they’re going to up the ante, slowly replacing factory workers with robots.
Within the next three years, Foxconn plans to include 1 million robots in its workforce while phasing out some of its human workers. Currently, the manufacturer uses 10,000 robots, but they plan to increase that number to nearly 300,000 by next year in a slow and gradual rollout.
Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency, says that the company plans to replace some of its workers to do simple and routine work, such as welding and assembling products, “which are now mainly conducted by workers,” says Xinhua. The move will obviously cut “labor expenses and improve efficiency,” as Xinhua notes. Well, it’s sure a lot cheaper than giving massive pay rises to workers who are on the brink of sanity.
Last year, 18 Foxconn workers attempted suicide, with 14 people succeeding. In response, the company subsequently raised its wages for its factory workers by 30 percent in June, followed by an additional 66 percent raise in October. Although the company claimed the wages weren’t related to the suicides, employees were also asked to sign no-suicide pledges. The Googleplex, this is definitely not.
Many labor activists have spoken of poor working conditions: Combined with long hours, health concerns, and intense pressure to keep mum on Apple’s newest products, many employees cannot handle the stress in the factories.