Latest Foxconn suicide raises concerns about working conditions


Foxconn is one of Apple's leading manufacturers.
Photo: Foxconn

Another Foxconn worker committed suicide over the weekend at the firm’s phone assembly plant  in Zhengzhou, China, according to U.S.-based Chinese workers’ rights organization China Labor Watch (CLW).

The incident reportedly occurred on Saturday, January 6, when 31-year-old Li Min jumped to his death from the factory. CLW posted video showing the aftermath of the suicide. No explanation for why Li Min took his own life have been made public, although he had only been working and living at Foxconn for a little over two months.

The tragic death returns to prominence concerns about the working conditions at Foxconn. Critics and labor advocates have long argued that Foxconn imposes excessive overtime and pressure on workers, particularly at busy times such as the ramp up to new iPhone launches. At these times of year, Foxconn can employ more than 300,000 employees building tens of thousands of iPhones per day.

During the height of iPhone X production, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that the firm was shipping 440,000 to 550,000 iPhone X units per day.

In the year 2010, around 14 Foxconn workers took their own lives. In the aftermath, then-CEO Steve Jobs called the suicide rate “troubling,” but defended Foxconn. “Foxconn is not a sweatshop,” Jobs said. “It’s a factory. But they’ve had some suicides and attempted suicides – and they have 400,000 people there. The rate is under what the U.S. rate is, but it’s still troubling.”

Foxconn has previously installed nets outside its buildings to prevent workers from jumping to their deaths.

The company was recently in the news when it was reported that high school student interns worked illegal overtime building the iPhone X. These students, aged between 17 and 19, reportedly worked 11-hour days assembling the iPhone X at one of Foxconn’s factories in Zhengzhou, China. In the aftermath, Foxconn said that it had taken, “immediate action to ensure that no interns are carrying out any overtime work.”

Apple has also worked to improve conditions at its various suppliers. For the past few years, Apple has achieved around 95 percent compliance with enforcing a maximum 60-hour workweek for people in its supply chain, and has taken steps to reduce the hiring of underage workers.

Foxconn is currently in the process of setting up a factory in the U.S.

Source: Telegraph