Gou calls for drive into emerging markets
Protesters call an for end to ‘sweatshop’ labor conditions
Terry Gou ( ), chairman of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (also known as Foxconn) said during a shareholders meeting yesterday that the company’s fortunes and “opportunities” lay in continuing to direct capital flows into emerging markets including China, India, and Southeast Asia. The Taiwanese company is the world’s largest manufacturer of consumer electronics and employs over one million employees globally.
Claiming to have obtained and read a “classified report” that indicated the gross domestic product (GDP) of advanced economies such as the U.S., the EU and Japan would only be 28 percent of the world total by 2050, Gou said that a regional shift was underway in which emerging economies would become ever more crucial as their appetite for consumer electronics would continue to grow unabated.
Citing the example of his own children, who he said are using mobile applications such as Line for communication, sending images and messages, Gou outlined the importance of wearable devices, cellphones and tablets and their growing usage by younger age groups. Gou outlined an aggressive plan to target emerging economies by increasing capital flow into these countries by 20 to 30 percent to aid in fortifying the creation of new routes into these economies.
According to Gou’s report, the world’s share of GDP held by advanced economies is currently 48 percent, down from a commanding 73 percent in 1990. Gou called the regional shift a great opportunity for Hon Hai as the trend toward growing the emerging economies will continue in the next 35 years.
Labor Groups Protest ‘sweatshop’ Conditions
Meanwhile, local labor groups and two from Hong Kong gathered outside the site of the shareholder meeting yesterday, holding placards and giving speeches condemning Hon Hai’s leader for failing to protect the rights of the company’s employees. The actions infuriated Gou, who called the protestors “irrational and unreasonable lackeys.” The chair- man angrily accused the groups from Hong Kong of being the tools of “haughty, white English.”
Hundreds of Hon Hai employees came out in support of the company, shouting slogans including: “Fake justice, get lost, I love Hon Hai.”
Labor groups and non-governmental organizations, including Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM,
) and Labour
Action China (LAC, ) accused the company of turning a blind eye to the benzene poisoning of its employees. Exposure to the chemical compound is known to cause cancer and bone marrow failure.
The groups also spoke about the plight of the company’s massive low-cost labor force in China, many of whom they claim work overtime in chemically contaminated environments. Gou countered the claims, saying that the company has formed medical units to address chemically induced health problems among its workforce, including a payout of 1 million yuan.
(Above) Terry Gou, the chairman of Hon Hai, speaks at a shareholder’s meeting in which he accused labor organizations protesting outside the venue of trying to bag 1 million yuan using the false pretense of obtaining worker’s compensation for chemical contamination. He accused the groups of being the tools of organizations from the United Kingdom. (Right) Labor activists protest outside of a Hon Hai shareholder’s meeting in Taipei, yesterday. The civic groups including non-governmental organizations, labor organizations from Taiwan and Hong Kong have been protesting for three days, calling to an end to the company’s “sweatshop” labor practices. Their message was flatly rejected by Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou, who described them as “trash” and “lackeys.”