Foxconn is notorious for its tough working conditions and labor practices, but the company has started relaxing on some of its strict factory rules after two recent suicides occurred at its Zhengzhou factory last month.
Starting now, Foxconn has decided it will stop forcing workers from fraternizing with one another during work hours. Foxconn’s factories have used a “mute mode” policy with workers that prohibits any conversation that is not relevant to their jobs while in the workshop, but the iPhone-maker has decided it’s probably good for workers’ health to be able to talk to each other.
According to a report from NetEase, an unnamed Foxconn worker had the following to say about the changes in the mute mode policy.
“The atmosphere has changed. The basic-level administrators used to shout at us but, all of a sudden, they start to use language like ‘please keep quiet in the workshop’. This politeness was rarely seen previously.”
Foxconn’s top-level management issued the change in policy by emailing factory administrators, but floor workers were not briefed on the policy directly, out of fear that workers would become overjoyed and think the company was easing up on all restrictions.
“Mute Mode” signs around the factory floor were removed and administrators have been advised to be less restrictive about whether a worker can move away from their station for a bit. The changes came quickly after a 23 year-old female worker killed herself by jumping off the dormitory building. A 24 year-old male committed suicide the same way 3 days earlier.