Foxconn Workplace Injury Crisis and Workers’ Position in China

Litigation & Dispute Resolution

Recently, Apple has been under a lot of negative media spotlight for a situation that has occurred at one of their private contractor companies in China. Namely, Foxconn, a firm that makes components for Apple, and a few other American IT companies, seems to be making problems for one of their employees who has suffered from a serious injury while working for this company. While Foxconn is operating under the restraints of the law, the sentiments that the story of this situation may arouse can have serious impact on the media and on the public image of the American IT giant.
The story is that a 26-year-old Chinese employee of the Foxconn company had been seriously injured while working on replacing a spotlight on an external wall of the facility. He suffered an electrical shock and fell to the ground, from a height of about four meters. He had managed to survive electrocution, but only barely, and had been brought to the hospital where the doctors had to remove half of his brain. This happened a year ago. Ever since then, he has had to remain at the hospital to be closely monitored. There, he is learning to walk and talk again, and perform other basic brain functions.
Now, this would not be as much of a problem, as workers do get injured all the time, even with all the precautions taken. The problems for this man’s family started a few months ago, when Foxconn started sending messages that they will cut off the funding of his medical care if he does not undergo an assessment of his medical condition and his disability. They are operating within the law, since the Chinese compensation law states that after a year of paid medical care, the condition of the injured worker has to be assessed and that it has to be determined whether the worker will be further eligible for compensation.
An even bigger problem is that this assessment has to be done at the place of the accident. Since the hospital at Huizhou, where he was working, could not take care of man with such a severe injury, he was moved to the hospital in Shenzhen, which is 70 miles away. And now, a man who is not able to walk without holding to the side of the bed, because he is even relearning to walk, has to be discharged from his current hospital and travel 70 miles for this assessment.
While the family claims that it is impossible for something like that to happen, taking into the account the condition of the injured worker, the company that employed him firmly stands ground in their demands, threatening to discontinue paying the medical bills should he not undergo assessment soon. An attorney David Marocchi commented that this is a perfect example of what makes the Australian compensation law stand out and that in other countries people have to go through a lot of pain and degradation of dignity in order to claim what is rightfully theirs, which should never be the case in such grave and desperate situations.

If you are a part of the employment chain in Australia, you know that, even though Australia may be at the far end of the world, geografically speaking, Australia is near the center of the global economy. As such, it is normal for Australian companies to have outposts in some other parts of the world, and to contract firms from other countries for the work that needs to be outsourced. This is because, in global economy it does not matter where the company is from, but how profitable the venture will be.
Now, this can sometimes cause a problem, when regarding the workers’ compensation systems and how they are applied. A worker who is employed by an Australian company to work in Australia is due to established compensations under the Australian law, should an injury occur when in the workplace.This raises an interesting question.

Melissa Davis

marketing at Australian Foundation

Melissa Davis is journalist and marketing specialist from Australia, she has been writing about health, travel, and other topics on blogs across the Internet. Melissa lives in Brisbane with her husband and young daughter where she enjoys parenting, cycling, and other extreme sports.