Apple said it was “saddened and upset” by a recent spate of suicides at Foxconn, a China-based electronics manufacturer believed to be making Apple’s upcoming next-generation iPhone. The Cupertino, Calif. consumer electronics designer also announced it would launch an independent evaluation of the plant where 10 workers have committed suicide in the past year.
Earlier this month, a call for investigations was spurred by the death of another worker.
Tuesday, a 19-year-old male worker, who had been at Foxconn just 42 days jumped to his death from a company building. That death came just days after another worker reportedly committed suicide and just one day after Foxconn representatives defended the company against charges of maintaining a sweatshop atmosphere.
In the wake of the suicides, Foxconn – which also makes components for other electronic giants, such as HP and Nokia – introduced several antisuicide tactics, including putting safety nets to prevent workers from jumping from company buildings, inviting Budddhist monks to pray, and creating the “Foxconn Employee Care Center,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
Publicly, Foxconn has swung from physically attacking reporters to giving tours of the firm’s campus, complete with bakery, dormitories and Olympic-size swimming pools.
Apple’s pledge for an investigation isn’t the first time the iPhone maker has looked into the working conditions at Foxconn. In 2006, Apple audited the company responsible for manufacturing iPods. That review found no credence to claims of a sweatshop atmosphere. In 2009, another review found more than half of Foxconn workers were not being paid enough for the overtime they did log.