Thu, May 27, 2010
China > HK/Taiwan > Foxconn suicide cluster

Another Foxconn employee falls to death despite company, government appeals

2010-05-26 22:08:36 GMT2010-05-27 06:08:36 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

SHENZHEN, May 26 (Xinhua) -- Another employee of Foxconn Technology Group jumped to death Wednesday night just hours after the company chief promised better welfare and local government appealed to young workers to cherish their lives.

The latest casualty fell to his death from a dormitory building in a Shenzhen plant at around 11:20 p.m. Wednesday, a witness surnamed Ye told Xinhua over the phone. The death has been confirmed by Foxconn.

It was the 10th such death and 12th such fall at the plant in Shenzhen this year. Two Foxconn employees had survived their suicide attempts but sustained severe injuries.

Traumatized by the series of tragedies, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou, the usually media-shy executive, flew to Shenzhen to show off his plant to around 300 Chinese and foreign reporters in order to repair the image of the manufacturing giant, which makes iPods and other popular gadgets.

He promised the firm would do everything possible to prevent more deaths. Nets were put on buildings to stop people from jumping, and about 100 mental health counselors were being trained.

Gou said Foxconn would also adjust salary for employees in two weeks, and fund the establishment of a hospital to provide professional therapies for employees.

Gou said he has been having trouble sleeping at night because of the suicides and he dreads the sound of his own phone ringing after work hours because he's afraid it will be news of another death.

Gou repeatedly said he felt sorry for the tragedies. "What I'm the most concerned with is to prevent the same tragedies from happening again," he said.

Foxconn has been installing safety nets, covering 1.5 million square meters, around almost all the dormitories and factory buildings, he said.

"Although this seems like a 'dumb' measure, at least it could save life should anyone else fall," said Gou.

The company also had divided all employees into 4,000 groups, each with 50 members, to encourage communication and care within the group, he said.

Seventy psychiatrists have been invited to give counseling to the employees. "We are also training our employees to be volunteer counselors. More than 100 employees have taken the training and we hope the number can grow to 1,000 in a month," he said.

Since nine out of the first 11 suicidal employees were new recruits, who had worked in Foxconn for less than six months, Gou initiated psychological tests for all the new-comers to track their psychological status.

"I can not guarantee that similar deaths will not happen again, but we are doing our utmost to look after and care more for our staff," he said.

Foxconn is part of Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. and makes computers, game consoles and mobile phones for companies including Hewlett-Packard Co., Sony Corp. and Nokia Corp.

Of Foxconn's 800,000 employees in China, 420,000 are based in Shenzhen. They work shifts and live inside the massive factory complex.

GOVERNMENT APPEAL FOR LIFE

An official of Shenzhen government on Wednesday also called on young employees in Foxconn to cherish lives and stay strong.

The causes of the suicide cases are complicated, involving individual, company and social factors, Li Ping, secretary general of Shenzhen Municipal government, told a press conference.

The suicidal employees, mostly born in the 1980s or 1990s, had weak self-adjustment capability under emotional, living, or working pressures, and the situation became worse when millions of young workers gathered in Foxconn and various problems were overlapped, Li said.

They were away from their hometown, with little love and care from the society, which also attributed to these falls, according to Li.

The government will form a special team to strengthen the leadership of relevant work, and the police and other authorities will join the company to avoid any further tragedy, Li said.

Cultural, sports, medical and educational conditions in surrounding area will also be improved to ensure a sound living environment.

The government will also assist the company to complete its psychological counseling system, he added.

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