Steve Jobs thinks that this Foxconn suicide thing is way overblown. But still, he's gonna fix it.
In an email exchange with a random guy, which is apparently how he communicates with the outside world now, he had this to say to accusations that Apple is party responsible for the recent rash of factory suicides:
"Although every suicide is tragic, Foxconn's suicide rate is well below the China average. We are all over this."
So on the one hand, Steve buys into the argument that since the number of suicides amongst Foxconn employees is below average, it has nothing to do with the working conditions there. On the other hand, they're "all over" it, as he knows that this sure isn't good publicity for Apple (or any of the other companies who work with Foxconn).
The argument that the Foxconn suicide rate is lower than China's average was taken on pretty pointedly by Fake Steve Jobs last week:
"But, see, arguments about national averages are a smokescreen. Sure, people kill themselves all the time. But the Foxconn people all work for the same company, in the same place, and they're all doing it in the same way, and that way happens to be a gruesome, public way that makes a spectacle of their death. They're not pill-takers or wrist-slitters or hangers. They're not Sylvia Plath wannabes, sealing off the kitchen and quietly sticking their head in the oven. They're jumpers. And jumpers, my friends, are a different breed. Ask any cop or shrink who deals with this stuff. Jumpers want to make a statement. Jumpers are trying to tell you something.
Also, consider this. Walmart has 1.4 million employees in the United States. Can you remember a time when 10 or 15 Walmart workers jumped to their deaths from the roofs of Walmart stores over the course of a few months? Have you ever heard of Walmart asking employees to sign a no-suicide contract, or putting safety nets up on all of its buildings? If this did happen, would you think maybe something is going on at Walmart? Or would you just say, well, 10 or 15 people out of 1.4 million is still waaaay below the national average?"
But in any case, whatever the motivations, here's hoping Apple follows through and ends up improving the working conditions at Foxconn. Whether or not these suicides are a direct result of said conditions, it's clear that they would be seen as near-barbaric if tried here in America. [MacStories]