While skimming my RSS reader this morning, I came across this breathless post at Kotaku about how the workers at Foxconn in China are slaves.
I IMed back and forth with my friend Ryan about this, and he was incredulous as well; after all, the idea that someone would rather threaten to kill themselves than threaten to quit is kind of hard to imagine.
And then I read the original story this piece was referring to…
On Jan. 2, the workers asked for a raise. Foxconn told them they could either keep their jobs with no pay increase or quit and get compensation. Most decided to quit with compensation. However, the agreement was supposedly terminated, and the workers never received their payments.
This prompted their suicide threat, and they were finally talked down by the mayor.
So, the real issue isn’t even that these workers were “enslaved,” or that they were unable to quit, or anything else.
The issue is that Foxconn (presumably) breached its contract with the workers.
Here, if your contract with your employer was breached, you would have recourse in the courts.
In the “communist” paradise of China, apparently your only recourse is to threaten to throw yourself off the roof of a building.
Slavery doesn’t enter into it at all.