Death count rises at Foxconn IT factory in China

27 May 2010

27 May 2010 | Steve Still

Computer firm Apple is looking into a spate of suicides at the factory of one of its suppliers.

Ten workers at the plant in the Chinese city of Shenzhen have died this year after falling off buildings at the factory. The latest death was on Wednesday.

The fatalities have prompted serious concerns about working practices at the site from a number of technology firms that use the same supplier, Foxconn  – part of Taiwanese-owned Hon Hai Industries. Dell and Hewlett-Packard are also major clients of the factory in China, and have said they would make their own enquiries into the deaths.

Apple said in a statement: “We are saddened and upset by the recent suicides at Foxconn. Apple is deeply committed to ensuring that conditions throughout our supply chain are safe and workers are treated with respect and dignity. We are in direct contact with Foxconn senior management, and we believe they are taking this matter very seriously.”

The company said it would continue inspections of the facilities where its products, which include the iPhone, are made.

Two other workers at the Shenzhen plant were recently seriously injured in suicide attempts at the plant, that employs hundreds of thousands of staff.

HP has also said it is looking into “Foxconn practices that may be associated with these tragic events”.

Dell said: “Reports of poor working conditions in Dell’s supply chain are investigated and, if warranted, appropriate action is taken.”

Similar statements were put out by other high profile Hon Hai customers including Motorola and Nintendo.

Hon Hai founder and chairman, Terry Gou, led journalists through the factory this week in a bid to allay fears surrounding working conditions.

Yesterday he was forced to back track and take back contracts limiting company responsibility for injuries and suicide attempts after agreeing the language was inappropriate, according to reports in the Financial Times.

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