Wednesday, May 26, 2010

String of suicides by workers of Apple's supplier factory in China

A couple of months ago, technology giant Apple was praised for disclosing supply chain issues in a candid annual report. The report included violations such as child labour that Apple discovered during 2009 audits of supplier factories.

What Apple did not disclose was that workers of its biggest supplier in China have been killing themselves inside or outside the factories. Foxconn, a Taiwanese-owned electronics supplier in Shenzen, China, produces iPhone and iPad for Apple. Foxconn is also the world's largest contract manufacturer for electronics products and has been in news for a spate of suicides by workers.

The media reported the 10th suicide by a Foxconn worker last week. Human rights activists blame harsh working conditions in the factory that push workers to commit suicide. Two other workers have made unsuccessful attempts to commit suicide in recent months. Last year in July a worker had committed suicide after being interrogated by the factory management over a missing iPhone prototype.

Other customers of Foxconn include Intel, Dell, Zoostrom, HP among others.

Activists point out to stressful working conditions in Foxconn factories.

Foxconn has said it regrets the incidents of suicides by its workers. The company is taking unusual steps to stop the spate of worker suicides. A media report says that the Foxconn management is asking "workers to sign letters promising not to kill themselves and even agree to be institutionalised if they appeared to be in an "abnormal mental or physical state for the protection of myself and others"."

A New York Times has quoted Foxconn executives as saying that the "company is planning to hire psychiatrists, counselors and monks, and intends to bring in 2,000 singers, dancers and gym trainers to improve life on its two sprawling campuses in Shenzhen."

Foxconn is also building tall fences at its dormitories to prevent workers from jumping to their deaths.

Here is another report on the suicide incidents involving Fixconn workers.

Last month, a National Labor Committee report alleged sweatshop conditions in a Microsoft's supplier factory in China

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