After Recent Suicides, Foxconn Stops Forcing Workers From Fraternizing

Foxconn Factory

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.

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  • Gene

    Um… I don’t think “fraternize” means what you think it does. You should be saying that Foxconn stops forcing them NOT to fraternize.

  • HerbalEd

    The yearly rate of suicide in China is 22.3 per 100,000 persons. At that rate, based upon it’s number of employees, Foxconn’s suicide rate would be 267 per year. However, they only had 5 suicides in 2011 which is only 1.9% of the national average.

    I don’t know their present rate of suicide, but even if it were 25 times higher than in 2011, it would still be half the national average.

    Of course, one suicide is too many, so anything Foxcomm does to prevent suicides is a good thing.

  • technochick

    Can we please watch the labels. Foxconn is more than just the iPhone maker, they have something like 75 clients. And no one has pinned down the suicides and riots to being just the iPhone production lines. So how about CoM pulls a rare classy move and stops insinuating that the company only does work for Apple, that all the issues are from building Apple products etc

  • technochick

    .

    Of course, one suicide is too many, so anything Foxcomm does to prevent suicides is a good thing.

    Many of those suicides may have had nothing to do with the work itself. Folks in Western countries don’t always understand the culture they are dealing with in Asian countries. And these blogs etc are too busy hit chasing with references to Apple etc to try to actually do some journalism and create a clearer picture. So they don’t mention things like how many of the folks working at places like Foxconn do so to support families living in poverty in rural areas and that being removed from family and friends in a strange place under a lot of stressful expectation is what drives them to kill themselves. Particularly when the factories would give death benefits regardless of how you died. When they stopped paying out for suicides, those incidents dropped. But there’s still a lot of stress etc and folks sometimes simply can’t handle it and want out, same as here. Regardless of where you are working

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Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Senior News Editor and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Twitter: @bst3r.

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