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Chinese workers riot at Foxconn

As the economy of China shifts, so too must the priorities of its companies.

The economic landscape of China is changing.  In addition to being a huge player in the world market, the people of China are experiencing a growth in work availability and wages that has previously never been seen.  These changes are naturally causing certain issues, as businesses, the government and the workers attempt to adjust to the new conditions.  Unfortunately, these changes aren’t all happening quickly enough, as a recent riot at the Foxconn manufacturing plant has demonstrated.

Nearly 2000 workers shut down a Foxconn factory, killing their production for several days.  Many reasons were sited as being the cause of the riot.  Bad working conditions seem to dominate Foxconn, including policies of forced overtime to meet the factory deadlines and an absence of days off.  There is also a problem with labor unions, which are supposed to represent the workers but instead choose to side with the companies.  By far the largest of the issues seems to be the security guards at the factories.  There are numerous complaints that these guards assault workers who speak their minds, both verbally and physically.

The riot is one more sign of the changing views of the working class in China.  When there are more jobs and people don’t necessarily have to work at factories, those that do demand something more.  The new generation of workers sees the country’s growing affluence and demands a piece of it, as they rightfully should.  Unfortunately, the companies are not adjusting to meet the changing times.

Foxconn has a record of being behind when it comes to progressive company management.  Complaints against them have risen steadily over the last few years and they’ve received quite a bit of pressure from their clients to step up their game and pay more attention to the needs of their employees.  If companies like Foxconn don’t start finding better ways to manage their operations, they may see their top clients moving to other companies with better records of adhering to labor standards.  Increased pressure from those across the world will further speed up this process.  In a changing economy, Chinese companies need to realize that they’re no longer living in the past days of military control and accept the standards of true capitalism.