Foxconn hit by 10th jumping death; nets installed

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Old 27-May-2010
Foxconn hit by 10th jumping death; nets installed

BEIJING (Reuters) - An employee of iPhone-maker Foxconn jumped to his death late on Wednesday, state media reported, the tenth suspected suicide this year at the high-tech firm's huge production base in southern China.

The spate of jumps, including two others in which employees survived, has thrown a spotlight on the tough labour practices of Foxconn, a unit of Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry, whose clients include Apple and Sony Ericsson.

The official Xinhua news agency said the latest death involved a worker who fell from a dormitory window, but it gave no other details.

Just hours before the latest fall, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou had toured the firm's sprawling facilities in Shenzhen and vowed to take sweeping actions to prevent more deaths.

The firm was training about 100 mental health counsellors and installing 1.5 million square metres of nets to stop workers from jumping, Xinhua said.

The safety nets will cover nearly all dormitories and factories.

"Although this seems like a dumb measure, at least it could save a life should anyone else fall," Gou was quoted as saying.

Foxconn has 420,000 employees based in Shenzhen. They live inside the factory complex and churn out products for the world's leading computer and phone companies in round-the-clock shifts.

Labour groups say the rash of apparent suicides has exposed the harsh working conditions at Foxconn.

Li Ping, secretary general of the Shenzhen municipal government, told a news conference on Wednesday that the pressure of being away from home with little care from society was part of a complex set of factors underpinning the suicides by the employees, mainly people under the age of 30.

He said the government was joining with the police and Foxconn to consider a range of ideas such as building up sports and cultural facilities to improve the living environment, Xinhua reported.

Apple said on Wednesday that company executives were saddened by the spate of apparent suicides and that it had sent its own team to independently evaluate the steps Foxconn was taking in response to the deaths.

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