New Foxconn Suicide Raises Fresh Questions About Conditions

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined
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Foxconn employee jumps from his apartment, one month after improved working conditions introduced

Foxconn faces fresh questions about working conditions at its plants after one of its workers committed suicide by jumping from his apartment on Wednesday.

The manufacturer, which makes many of Apple’s products, confirmed that a 23-year-old worker fell to his death from an apartment located near its Chengdu plant in south-western China.

The man had only joined Foxconn last month and police are investigating the death, which is the first sucide since the company reached an agreement with Apple last month to improve the conditions for the 1.2 million workers who assemble iPhones and iPads.

Working conditions

Apple has promised to help pay for the improvements, which include the hiring of tens of thousands of workers in order to reduce overtime work, improve safety and upgrade housing.

The improvements were prompted by an investigation by the Fair Labor Association earlier this year, while Foxconn has also increased employees’ wages. The investigation followed a number of suicides by Foxconn employees as well as an explosion at its Chengdu plant last month, which killed three workers.

However problems have persisted, with some workers threatening to throw themselves off the roof of the factory building in May, while around 100 workers at one plant rioted after a dispute in a restaurant.

Apple has not been the only major company to be implicated in the controversy. In January, hundreds of Foxconn workers who assembled Microsoft’s Xbox 360 threatened a mass suicide bid over a pay dispute.

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