Opinion on Foxconn Injury Compensation
Recently, more and more stories pop up about bad working conditions in Chinese factories that are contracted for major international companies. The reason that the major international companies hire firms from China to work on their projects and assemble their parts is that the price of work is much cheaper in China. Also, these companies are able to produce much more due to the availability of the working force in China, making them most suitable for mass production of much wanted products.
The latest challenge for the public relations department at Foxconn is the story of a 26-year-old worker who was severely injured while working for this company. This man was repairing the spotlight on the exterior of the facility when he suffered electric shock and fell 4 meters to the ground. His injuries were so severe that in order to save him, the doctors had to remove nearly half of his brain and install a tube that will leak the fluids in the empty part of his head directly into the bladder.
The man is now closely observed in the hospital as he is relearning to walk, speak and, generally, live. He has also lost his memory and has had five more operations so that his condition would be stable.
The problem is that now, after a year, Foxconn has started demanding that the injured worker be discharged and brought in for examination. That would not be such a problem had he not been moved to a hospital in Shenzhen, whilst the injury happened 70 miles away, at Huizhou. This is in accordance with the Chinese compensation laws which state that, after a year, the worker entitled to compensation must be examined by a commission of experts at the facility where the injury happened, in order to determine whether his condition has improved enough to discontinue the compensation. This is applied to all severe injury compensation cases in China. If the worker does not come for examination, Foxconn says, they will discontinue the paying of his medical bills which are not small, and definitely cannot be covered by the family of the worker.
The family of the worker claims that it is nowhere near possible to meet the demands of the company. They say that his health is not anywhere near the condition required for the journey that he has to take. He has problems walking, and cannot walk if not holding himself to the side of the bed and even then it is hard for him to move. And, whilst the hospital where the worker is being taken care of has refused to give any comments on the situation, it is clear that even the doctors don’t think that discharging him would be a good idea.
Now this raises a question. Is it really necessary to follow the law blindly or should certain situations be made an exception? Certainly, the law has to be respected on all accounts, but what happens when the requirements of the law cannot be met due to some great difficulties, like, in this case, the inability of the worker to take a 70-mile journey?
One of the attorneys David Marocchi has made a comment on the situation saying that whilst the law should always be respected, it is sometimes necessary to see whether the law is functional and whether it serves and protects the people, which is the basic function of the law. The main problem here is that the worker is treated in accordance with Chinese law, even though he was contracted for an American company. It must be understood that not all countries have as developed compensation laws as do the USA and Australia, for example.
The option that the family of the worker has, as his entitled guardian body, is to appeal to the media as much as possible in order to raise the awareness of the people to this problem, and start a wave that will ultimately lead to the change in the law. The other option is to end up in a court, which will lead to further expenses but might in the end bring desperately needed victory for the family.