Reports are starting to emerge that another worker at one of Apple's Chinese manufacturing partners has committed suicide.
We fully expect to see lots of sensationalist clickbait headlines attacking Apple and its partners for dreadful working practices and human rights violations. [Bloody right too. They don't make these things in the west because they'd have to pay proper wages, not force 15 year-old girls to do overtime. Ed.]
The latest tragedy involves a 24-year-old woman who jumped from the window of her apartment whilst on holiday from her job at the Hon Hai Group which assembles Apple's iPhone alongside a number of other electronic gadgets.
Now we don't know what the conditions are like at Hon Hai, and we won't speculate on such things, but the concept of 'holiday' doesn't really sit well with accusations of evil wage slave culture or illegal sweat shops in our opinion. [Holiday, probably means day off. Ed.]
Lesser news sources will refer to the sad case of one employee who killed himself after an iPhone prototype went missing. They will wag their fingers in Apple's direction and make all sorts of accusations about heavy-handed security and black-shirted Apple security goons. All of which will be a cynical mix of misinformation, tabloid cynicism and overactive imagination. [Ah lost an iPhone prototype, let's send in the coppers. Ah, you're in China? Hmm, we have ways of making sure you won't do that again. Ed.]
Apple has defended its record on supplier responsibility rigorously [cough! Ed.] and there's no doubt that the company, at least on the surface, goes to great pains to maintain its image as a decent employer. [Does it employ these people? No. It send out a tender based on price. Ed.]
The simple fact of the matter is that factories [in China, Ed.] are horrible places to work in. Day after day of grinding monotony for low wages would lead any sane person into despair.
And it may sound callous, but two suicides and two attempted suicides in two years is a pretty good record if you are prepared to do the maths. Which it seems like most journalists are not.
Here are the basic facts.
Hon Hai is the biggest manufacturer of electronics on the planet and employs up to 486,000 people.
The Chinese suicide rate is the highest in the world at around 14 deaths per 100,000 people. It is estimated that more than 287,000 people take their own lives every year.
As unpleasant and cold as it may seem to reduce these tragic deaths to a mathematical calculation, Hon Hai should be reporting nearly 70 suicides each and every year.
Perhaps the iPhone assembly line is a happy place to work after all. [Hmm. Ed.]