Sunday 23 May 2010

Foxconn makes the news again

With the latest round of suicides making the news, it seems that Foxconn and Hon Hai are irrevocably marked as especially poor, oppressive and exploitative employers, despite efforts to combat the wave of depression that has hit the company including bringing in Buddhist monks.

Such a reputation would, in my opinion, and despite my previous criticism of the company, be unjust. Foxconn is in no way any worse than any employer in mainland China and by many measures a lot better.

Yes, hours are long, but overtime is not compulsory and is not badly paid by mainland Chinese standards. The company places a firm emphasis on training of mainland Chinese staff as part of its policy of localisation. It is true that some of the Taiwanese managers display an almost colonial level of contempt for the mainland workers, but the central policy of the company is to replace the highly paid non-mainland Chinese staff with cheaper but equally skilled mainland employees. This is mandated by Terry Guo, not out of the goodness of his heart, but for strict business reasons of profit.

Saturday 8 May 2010

The Aftermath

A few points:

1) Talk of a Lib-Lab coalition government is vacuous - to deliver a majority it would also have to include the Scottish and Welsh nationalists and Northern Irish parties like the DUP, an extremely unlikely scenario, whilst still making concessions to the Lib Dems on vote reform - which would not be universally popular in the Labour ranks.

2) Gordon Brown has lost this election, and must go for the Labour party to stand any chance in the next election, which will probably not be delayed by more than a year or so.

3) A Conservative-Liberal coalition is also somewhat unseemly, but the fact is that a government of some kind must come from some where, and this is the only viable configuration (whether through a simple deal or a full-blown coalition) which will not create a British government held hostage to the whims of the smaller parties.

4) This election demonstrates very well exactly why a proportional representation voting system would be so undesirable - it would guarantee that almost every election would end in the kind of horse-trading that we have seen over the last 24 hours.

5) Final thought - it cannot be emphasised enough that the Liberal Democrats would be taking a substantial risk in engaging in a full-blown coalition with either of the other main parties. The Liberal Democrats have built their narrow wedge of support on being an alternative to the big two, the moment they enter into a coalition this rational will wither away.

Wednesday 5 May 2010

Election 2010

I have little to say that hasn't already been said about tomorrow's general election except this - barring some unforeseen last-gasp break-out for one of the parties it's likely to be followed by another in short order. A Conservative majority is not likely to be big enough to get everything the Conservatives want, and any Lib-Lab pact is likely to be very unstable, especially given Nick Clegg's obvious dislike for Gordon Brown.

My prediction: a Conservative minority government, followed by another election later this year or early in the next.

[ELECTION NIGHT THOUGHT - If the Conservatives squeak a majority in coalition with the current 8-seat DUP, will they still condemn the idea of a Lib-Lab pact? And what of the Tories' previous condemnation of Lib-Labery?]