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In a latest development, about 60,000 workers at a China factory of Foxconn , which produces Apple phones, have been replaced with robots . “The Foxconn factory in Kunshan has reduced its employee strength from 1,10,000 to 50,000 because of the introduction of robots. A government official said, it has tasted success in reduction of labour costs.
Foxconn Technology Group confirmed that it was automating many of the manufacturing tasks associated with our operations but denied that it meant long-term job losses.
Since September 2014, 505 factories across Dongguan, in the Guangdong province, have invested 4.2bn yuan (£430m) in robots, aiming to replace thousands of workers.
Kunshan, Jiangsu province, is a manufacturing hub for the electronics industry. Economists have issued dire warnings about how automation will affect the job market, with one report, from consultants Deloitte in partnership with Oxford University, suggesting that 35% of jobs were at risk over the next 20 years.
Former McDonald’s chief executive Ed Rensi recently told the US’s Fox Business programme a minimum-wage increase to $15 an hour would make companies consider robot workers.
This doesn’t bode well for Kunshan’s 2.5 million residents, most of whom are migrant workers who moved to the city for jobs in its numerous electronics factories.