Employee death sparks outrage at sourcing factories in China
- Was Mr. Sun’s reaction to the accusation of the theft something that only might be expected in China?
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I think the suicide of Mr. Sun was not only an escape for the accusation of theft something, but this reaction involves more than the theft of an intellectual property. Behind the simple fact of a theft, there are many other factors that made him kill himself, such as shiftwork and late night work, excessive working hours over a short period, long hours with inadequate breaks, Hazardous physical working conditions, etc. This is not only happening in China, but also in other countries. This article about Foxconn (China) has spread worldwide because of the increasing sells of the famous company Apple.
However, I read some articles about suicide other countries like United Kingdom, where an “engineer, who killed himself, wrote in a suicide note saying 'the pressure of work has turned my mind into a ticking time bomb'. Hazards magazine reported in 2003 that the work-related suicide toll in the UK was likely to exceed 100 deaths per year, caused by factors including overwork, stress and harassment”. Other similar stories have been happened in Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zeeland etc.
- Is the theft of intellectual property a problem everywhere? Why or why not? Does every culture view the importance of intellectual property in the same way?
Yes, it is a problem everywhere. The piracy of intellectual property that is protected by copyright law is a crime. The theft of intellectual property also involved the plagiarism. Nowadays, the Internet has contributed with this problem. A common situation about this is, a group of students that decide to “copy and paste” the essay from an author. Some people say that using the ideas without attributing them is a form of theft. However, most people don’t think it is a crime.
With the globalization and the fast increasing of innovation and competition, some companies want to have the same or similar software or technology as the competitor. As a clear example are China and United States. There is an article from the New York Times that says: “For the United States, the No. 1 problem with China’s economy is probably intellectual property theft. Technology companies, for example, continue to notice Chinese government agencies downloading software updates for programs they have never bought, at least not legally.
No wonder China has become the world’s second-largest market for computer hardware sales — but is only the eighth-largest for software sales. ” Not every culture views the importance of intellectual property in the same way. Some companies that can’t create a new technology and instead, they take the idea from others companies. Some people think that buy legitimate software or application is really expensive and, they cannot afford it. So, they would rather download it for free or get it for a cheaper price.
They argue that intellectual property tends to be governed by economic goals when it should be viewed primarily as a social product.
- Why is theft of intellectual property such as concern in foreign sub-contractors? What can be done to control it?
It is really important for every business to protect itself against intellectual property theft in today’s business. With all the global markets competition, it’s important for the company to know how to identify, protect and enforce its Intellectual property rights.
The company needs to protect its information assets as securely as possible by using some techniques that can prevent any theft of intellectual property. In other to control the theft of intellectual property in foreign sub-contractors, we can mention about:
- Review and prepare all legal contracts making sure that the company has the protection it needs.
- Make sure all parties, as well as their roles and responsibilities are identified in the business contract.
- Spell out venue, choice of law and jurisdiction, particularly if the subcontractor that the business is working with is located out of the country.
Work Councils and “Inform and consult”
- What do the EU directives on works councils and “Inform and Consult” require in a situation like this? To whom do these directives apply?
The EU Directives require companies with more than 1,000 employees throughout the EU and, with at least 150 employees in each one the two countries, which can lead the establishment of works councils to receive information and consultation in all the decisions of the company.
All this is really important, because it provides values that cut across national borders. In addition, the larger employers not only need to establish works councils, but must also establish a Europe wide council. This means that any decisions, such as work restructuring, plant or office closings, or even the movement from one country to another (outsourcing, layoffs, workforce agreements), all require firms to inform and consult with their councils previously to the implementation of those kinds of decisions. So, this is applied for all multinational firms.
- What is it about European culture that has led to the development and implementation of these sorts of practices and policies? Why haven’t they developed in countries like the US?
European culture has a different mentality as United States does. For Europeans, the workers are a fundamental part when the big decisions are made. All decisions are discussed by a group. Additionally, they have kept a tool-making, smart structural decision; engineering culture, etc.
In some European management discuss between them detailed information about enterprises' financial and business plans. United States instead, was simply too hard to replicate in other countries because United States or other countries have a different way to treat the workers. In United States, some management complained that workers did not truly cooperate, while workers complained that this kind of policies and practices gave them no real power to affect decisions. The workers prefer to work at the fast speed in the bad state; they lack credible information about the state of the firm.
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