Foxconn, the manufacturer who makes a wide range of Apple products, including the iPod Touch and iPhone, currently employs 1.2 million workers in China. The company has announced that they will be replacing a large portion of their workforce with robots.
Foxconn already has over 10,000 robots working on the production line, and have said that it will expand to more than 300,000 robots next year and over a million in the next 3 years.
Foxconn founder and Chairman Terry Gou revealed last Friday that the reason for the transition was to decrease labor costs while improving the company’s overall efficiency. These robots will take over basic job functions, like spraying, assembling and welding that is usually done by its workers.
Analysts say that the rising labor costs in China prompted some manufacturers to switch to more automation. C.K. Lu, a Taipei-based senior analyst from Gartner, said, “Rising salary costs should be the key reason why Foxconn is doing this. This year’s wage increase has been quite significant and I don’t expect the pace to slow down next year.”
Foxconn has over 1.2 million employees, a million of which are based in the mainland. Just last month, it was reported that a Foxconn worker fell to his death at a manufacturing plant in Southern China. It was the latest in a series of suicides by workers at the company’s factories in the last two years.
Is China going the same way as Europe and where will this leave traditional workers? Some torrid times ahead, no doubt!