A Suicide Survivor: The Life of a Chinese Worker

16 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2013

See all articles by Jenny Chan

Jenny Chan

University of London - Royal Holloway College

Date Written: July 2013


In 2010, 18 employees working for Foxconn in China attempted suicide. These shocking events focused the world's attention on the manufacturing supply chains of China's export industry and the experience of working within them. What had driven these young, migrant, assembly line workers to commit such a desperate act? This article provides a first‐hand account of the experiences of one of those who survived a suicide attempt, 17‐year‐old Tian Yu. Her personal narrative is embedded within the broader context of labour process, work organisation and managerial practice at Foxconn, the Taiwanese‐owned multinational that provides products and components for Apple and others. The factory conditions are further shaped by the company trade union and Chinese government policies. The paper concludes with additional contextualisation indicating the emergence of an alliance of workers, students, scholars and transnational labour movement activists who are campaigning for Chinese workers' rights.

Keywords: Foxconn, suicides, Apple, global supply chains, wages, working hours, Chinese workers, ACFTU (All‐China Federation of Trade Unions)

Suggested Citation

Chan, Jenny, A Suicide Survivor: The Life of a Chinese Worker (July 2013). New Technology, Work and Employment, Vol. 28, Issue 2, pp. 84-99, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2296286 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ntwe.12007

Jenny Chan (Contact Author)

University of London - Royal Holloway College ( email )

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