While to the rest of the world, it may seem like China is still paying its workers absolutely nothing, the labour costs are actually increasing substantially thanks to the country’s rapid industrialization. So much so, in fact, that Foxconn is working on replacing some of their labour force with robots.
A CNET report says that Foxconn announced their intention to do so sometime last year, but now they’re finally beginning the process of installing their new robots. They’ve been spurred on by not only rising labour costs, but also by the fact that several of their workers have killed themselves over the last couple years. When you’re working conditions are that depressing, it’s definitely time to make some changes.
While this may have some short-term negative impacts on Foxconn’s workers, as some of them will lose their jobs to these robots, it will also allow working conditions and wages to improve for the smaller number of remaining employees. Automation and industrialization has been instrumental in improving the quality of life in other developing nations, so if Foxconn and other Chinese manufacturing companies go down this road, it should result in a substantial increase in working conditions for China’s working class.
So far, 10,000 of the new robots have arrived at Foxconn facilities, and another 20,000 are scheduled to arrive by the end of the year. The cost of the robots is somewhere around the $25,000 mark, which is what the average Foxconn employee makes in three years. Foxconn says the robots will improve efficiency and “combat rising labour costs,” which means reduce their work force, essentially.