iPhone manufacturer Foxconn has replaced more than half of its workforce with robots since the launch of the iPhone 6. Is no working conditions better than bad working conditions?
Since the dawn of the industrial age companies have been striving to cut costs and bump up margins by replacing employees with machines. The South China Morning Post reports that iPhone maker Foxconn has replaced more than half of its workforce with robots since the launch of the iPhone 6. The figures were provided by the local government in Kunshan, where the company is based.
Foxconn iPhone department head Xu Yulian stated – “The Foxconn factory has reduced its employee strength from 110,000 to 50,000, thanks to the introduction of robots. It has tasted success in reduction of labour costs.” Read: Three killer features Apple needs to bring to the next version of iOS
Even though Apple saves a lot by building the iPhone in China, Foxconn is trying to shave off every penny of unnecessary cost. And they aren’t the only ones. Since September 2014, more than 500 companies in the Chinese province of Dongguan have spent a total of $630 million USD on robot and AI technology to replace human workers. The Chinese government sees this move as a threat to overall employment in the country and has paid Foxconn around $12 million USD in subsidies to help minimise layoffs.
The automation of iPhone builds holds both good and bad news for Apple. One the one side it will reduce scope for allegations of poor working conditions for Chinese workers, but on the flip side it would mean hat Apple would be bringing fewer new jobs to countries like India, where economic development has been part of its push to get a better deal from the government. Read: Leaked iPhone 7 case reveals four corner speakers
This might be a strategic decision many large manufacturers’ (not only Apple) boards will have to make. How do you produce and innovate without leaving people behind? Are large manufacturers failing economies as a whole by not uplifting communities?
Source: 9to5mac Follow Jaco on Twitter:@Jaco_vdWalt