A spate of worker suicide in China alerts Americans
May 26, 2010
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) -- The chairman and founder of Foxconn Group, Terry Gou,
flew into the Chinese city of Shenzhen on Wednesday, bringing with him a number
of Taiwanese reporters, in an effort to tackle concerns about the company's
labor practices following a spate of suicides and accusations of inhumane
Protesters from several workers' rights
groups carry paper figures, depicting workers who recently died in apparent
suicides, during a demonstration outside a Foxconn office in Hong Kong.
"This is not a place that treats its workers badly," Gou was quoted as
saying in a Reuters report.
Gou's remarks followed a spate of protests and criticisms
against his company's labor practices.
Gou's "worker name tag" prepared by angry protestors, depicting Gou as "a
On Tuesday, labor groups in Hong Kong called for a
worldwide boycott of Apple Inc.'s latest generation iPhone,
which is produced at the facility. The labor groups claimed
that the company pressured workers into overly long work
Apple said Wednesday it will independently investigate
what measures Foxconn is taking to redress the suicide
problem, according to a report by Dow Jones Newswires, which
cited a company statement.
The Cupertino, Calif., tech
giant Apple Inc. said in the
statement that it is keeping an eye on its supply chain to
ensure that conditions are safe and that "workers are
treated with respect and dignity."
said Wednesday it is
independently investigating the
steps that its supplier Hon Hai
Precision Industry Co. is taking
to address a recent spate of
suicides at the Taiwan-based
company's factory in southern
China. "We are in direct contact
with Foxconn senior management
and we believe they are taking
this matter very seriously,"
"We are saddened
and upset by the recent suicides
at Foxconn," the Apple statement
said. "Apple is deeply committed
to ensuring that conditions
throughout our supply chain are
safe and workers are treated
with respect and dignity."
The statement by Apple is the
first direct public
acknowledgment of the suicides
by a client of Hon Hai, which
along with its subsidiaries and
affiliates also goes by the
trade name Foxconn.
Factory workers are routinely compelled to work as much
as 12 hours a day, with monthly overtime typically exceeding
100 hours, two Hong Kong-based trade unions claimed during a
rally outside Foxconn's offices Tuesday. China's labor code
says companies should allow employees to work no more than
36 hours of overtime a month.
On Tuesday a 19-year-old employee, in an apparent
suicide, fell to his death from a building within Foxconn's
Longhua industrial complex on the outskirts of Shenzhen. The
death, reportedly the ninth of the year, came just days
after the alleged suicide of a 21-year-old man Friday.
Tuesday's death made front-page news across
Chinese-language Websites and newspapers, touching a nerve
in a nation rocked by a recent wave of brutal knifing
attacks on school children.
Some commentators say the recent tragedies highlight
mental-health problems and rising social tensions brought on
by the nation's rapid economic advance.
Gou on Monday had rejected claims of poor working
conditions at the company's plants, saying that he wasn't
running "blood and sweat factories."
Foxconn has more than 400,000 employees at the Longhua
facility, about half its total workforce in China.