Three of the world's largest IT companies said yesterday that they were investigating working conditions at Foxconn after a series of suicides at the huge manufacturing plant in southern China they use to make electronic goods.
Nine workers at Foxconn's Shenzhen plant, which employs and houses 300,000 people, have died after falling off buildings since the beginning of this year, the latest on Tuesday. Police have confirmed seven of the cases as suicide. Two other workers attempted to kill themselves by jumping off buildings but survived.
The suicides have forced the normally secretive Taiwanese company – which makes products such as smartphones and digital cameras under contract for many of the world's biggest technology companies – to be more open about its working practices.
Apple, one of Foxconn's main customers, said a team from the US group was independently evaluating the steps the Taiwanese group was taking “to address these tragic events” and would continue inspections of the facilities where its products are made.
Hewlett-Packard said it was “investigating the Foxconn practices that may be associated with these tragic events”. Dell said it expected suppliers to stick to the same high standards it had in its own facilities and was enforcing these standards through a variety of tools.
It emerged on Tuesday that Foxconn had asked workers to sign a form in which they agreed to ask no more than legal compensation from the company for eventual injuries not caused by the employer, including from suicide attempts.
A Foxconn manager said the company had paid the families of the dead workers some money to express its sympathy, but management was worried that the practice was encouraging copycat suicides.
Mr Gou yesterday said he was taking back the contract limiting the company's responsibility as he felt the language was inappropriate.
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Foxconn, the world's largest contract electronics manufacturer that is a main maker of the iPad, is scrambling to adjust the way it runs its factories in China following a series o