A Foxconn employee jumped to his death in southern China, the latest worker tragedy to hit the Taiwanese tech supplier and draw attention to its working conditions.
The 21-year-old Foxconn employee had only worked at the company’s Shenzen plant for over a month when his body was discovered outside his on-site dormitory. He reportedly logged just two hours of overtime, a fact some claim makes it unlikely his suicide resulted from work pressure.
More than a dozen people died in apparent suicides last year at Foxconn plants, which manufactures mobile and other tech products for companies like Apple. This most recent incident may invite further scrutiny from activists who point to difficult working conditions and advocate for better worker treatment.
Earlier this year, the Center for Research on Multinational Corporations and Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior reported workers often log more than twice the legal 36 hours of overtime each week, take only one out of 13 allotted vacation days, and are occasionally subjected to public humiliation for poor performance.
In response, the company pledged to improve conditions and also said it would build new manufacturing facilities in locations nearer to its migrant workers’ homes, eliminating the need for sprawling dormitory complexes.
This past spring, however, three workers died and 15 others were reported injured in a blast at a Foxconn plant in the southwestern city of Chengdu. The explosion, reportedly caused by combustible dust in the plant’s polishing facility, temporarily closed the $2 billion facility and again drew unwanted attention to working conditions.
Foxconn, the world’s largest manufacturer of computer components and assembly point for products, is probably best known making Apple’s iPhones and iPads. Foxconn also supplies components to Dell, Sony and Nokia, and other electronic companies.
Parent company Hon Hon Precision, based in Taiwan, has plants across China and employs one million people.