TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Innolux company (群創光電), a part of the Foxconn corporation responsible for producing display panels, announced that it will be cutting 10,000 jobs from its workforce in Taiwan and moving to an automated production line.
The news was confirmed this week by Foxconn honorary chairman Tuan Hsin-Chien, saying that Innolux was preparing to cut its workforce by approximately 16 percent in 2018, reports the Inquirer.
At a press conference, Tuan stated that Innloux was preparing to reduce its workforce from over 60,000 down to below 50,000. The reduction in the workforce is planned to coincide with a new manufacturing system that will automate about 75 percent of the display panel production process.
The announcement followed shortly after Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou announced a multimillion dollar investment to develop AI in Foxconn factories.
According to the Inquirer, the planned automated upgrades to the display panel production line are related to Foxconn’s development of a new “active mini-matrix LED” screen that can reportedly outperform current display screens, and is also designed to be foldable.
While the trend to automate is an inevitable development that will begin affecting more and more industries in the coming years, the recent news from Foxconn is making some people uneasy, especially those in Wisconsin, U.S.A., who are preparing for the construction of a 4.5 billion dollar Foxconn manufacturing facility.
Local media sources in Wisconsin have noted that during negotiations between State Governor Scott Walker and Foxconn, that there were no safe guards included against automation, because it wasn’t considered a serious concern.
David Bowen, a former state representative notes that “There is no telling what Foxconn might do at a future Wisconsin plant, because the agreement Governor Walker signed offered no protections for our enormous investment against automation.”
After the most recent announcement that 10,000 Taiwanese workers will lose their livelihood to automation, it seems a valid concern that workers in Wisconsin may be entering into a potentially unfair deal, according to Bowen’s article.
He states that “all we can do is hope Foxconn will indeed employ humans for the entire length of the deal, preferably ones who live in Wisconsin, in exchange for the exorbitant amount of money the next few decades of Wisconsin taxpayers will be handing them.”
Foxconn should outline exactly what plans it has for the Wisconsin plant with regards to automation, that way the local population will know what to expect if there is indeed a timeline for automating the production process at the future facility.