TSMC chairman responds to criticism of brutal” workplace culture

Mark Liu

8th June 2023 – (Taipei) Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) Chairman Mark Liu has responded to criticism of the company’s working conditions, stating that those who are unwilling to work in the semiconductor industry should not be in it. Liu’s comments come after an article in Fortune outlined dissatisfaction among TSMC’s U.S. employees with the company’s “brutal” workplace culture.

Speaking after a shareholder’s meeting on 6th June, Liu stated that the semiconductor industry relies on employees having a genuine interest in working in it, rather than high salaries. He emphasised that TSMC is about obedience and is not ready for America, with 12-hour workdays and weekend shifts being standard. While it is not necessary for U.S. and Taiwanese employees to work in the same way, employees must abide by the company’s core values of integrity, innovation, and maintaining customer trust.

In February, Taiwanese TSMC employees expressed concerns that their American counterparts would not be able to keep up. The company continued with plans for a $40 billion investment in production facilities in Arizona despite these concerns. Liu’s comments suggest that TSMC expects its American employees to adapt to the company’s working culture rather than the other way around.

However, some former TSMC employees have expressed reservations about working for the company in the United States. One engineer stated that he had opted not to join the venture after realizing he would have to make up for his American colleagues’ lack of productivity. While studies have shown that overwork increases the risk of death from heart disease and stroke, no studies have been carried out on the semiconductor industry specifically.

TSMC’s first Phoenix fab is currently under construction and is expected to be ready for commercial production in 2024. The facility will manufacture 4nm chips, and after its completion, the company will begin construction on a more advanced 3nm fab.