On September 30, 2014 yet another Foxconn worker committed suicide. Xu Lizhi was 24 when he died at Foxconn’s Shenzhen plant after working there for four years. A post from Libcom.org’s Nao blog has translated Xu’s obituary as well as several of the poems Xu wrote about his life at the factory, several of which were published in Foxconn’s internal newsletter, Foxconn People.
We wanted to share a few of these with our readership in order to keep awareness of the conditions of Chinese migrant workers alive and highlight the need for further progress in these factories towards creating humane working conditions for their workers. Besides describing the feelings of one young worker’s devastating struggle, they are also heartbreakingly beautiful.
"I Fall Asleep, Just Standing Like That"
"The paper before my eyes fades yellow
With a steel pen I chisel on it uneven black
Full of working words
Workshop, assembly line, machine, work card, overtime, wages ...
They've trained me to become docile
Don't know how to shout or rebel
How to complain or denounce
Only how to silently suffer exhaustion
When I first set foot in this place
I hoped only for that grey pay slip on the tenth of each month
To grant me some belated solace
For this I had to grind away my corners, grind away my words
Refuse to skip work, refuse sick leave, refuse leave for private reasons
Refuse to be late, refuse to leave early
By the assembly line I stood straight like iron, hands like flight,
How many days, how many nights
Did I - just like that - standing fall asleep?"
- 20 August 2011
Even the machine is nodding off
Sealed workshops store diseased iron
Wages concealed behind curtains
Like the love that young workers bury at the bottom of their hearts
With no time for expression, emotion crumbles into dust
They have stomachs forged of iron
Full of thick acid, sulfuric and nitric
Industry captures their tears before they have the chance to fall
Time flows by, their heads lost in fog
Output weighs down their age, pain works overtime day and night
In their lives, dizziness before their time is latent
The jig forces the skin to peel
And while it's at it, plates on a layer of aluminum alloy
Some still endure, while others are taken by illness
I am dozing between them, guarding
The last graveyard of our youth.
- 21 December 2011