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Foxconn worker from Chengdu factory commits suicide

Dana Franklin
May 27, 2011
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Sadly, a 20-year-old male employee at Foxconn (Apple's contract manufacturer for many products) committed suicide Thursday morning, according to a report from the Hong Kong China News Agency (HKCNA) cited by Bloomberg. The worker was reportedly employed at the company's new facility in Chengdu where an explosion killed three workers on May 20.

Further details about Thursday morning's incident are sparse, and the reasons behind the factory worker's suicide are currently unknown. This is at least the 14th publicized death by suicide among Foxconn's workforce since the start of 2010.

Foxconn chairman Terry Gou declined to comment about the incident saying he doesn't know the full details about the apparent suicide. However, last year, Gou said suicides by Foxconn employees were prompted by personal issues rather than tough working conditions in his company's facilities.

Labor groups like China Labor Watch disagree. Foxconn's critics have slammed the Taipei-based company for operating facilities with a sweatshop atmosphere -- an accusation Gou vehemently denies.

In response to last year's suicides and subsequent harsh criticism, Foxconn, which builds electronic products for several other recognizable brands including Sony and Dell, raised wages, slashed overtime, offered counseling, and tried to improve the work-life balance for its more than one million factory workers in China.

Although Foxconn's suicide rate remains markedly lower than China's national average, Thursday morning's death, last Friday's explosion, and protests outside a Foxconn shareholder meeting earlier this month suggest the manufacturer has more work to do to improve employee safety and overall satisfaction.

Our thoughts and condolences go out to the friends and family of the young man who died.

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