Six suicides this year by Chinese iPhone factory workers

Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology, a contract maker of the iPhone and other consumer electronics, insisted its treatment of workers is world class after a female employee became the company’s sixth Chinese worker to commit suicide this year.

“We regret to see the recurrence of such incidents,” Foxconn said in statement that came on Wednesday, a day after a 24-year-old Foxconn factory worker surnamed Chu killed herself by jumping from her rented apartment in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.

Foxconn, the world’s largest contract maker of electronics, said that Chu, whose full name was not released, began her employment last August.

Two other Foxconn workers have made unsuccessful attempts at taking their own lives in recent times.

The company has attracted wide attention from the Chinese media following a spate of suicides among young Chinese working at its mammoth Shenzhen factory complex, where some 300,000 are employed.

A week ago a 24-year-old male factory worker surnamed Lu committed suicide by jumping from a building inside the complex.
The most notable Foxconn suicide came last July when 25-year-old Sun Danyong jumped from his high-rise apartment after being interrogated over a missing iPhone prototype.

Foxconn makes products for leading Western companies including the Mac mini, the iPod, the iPad, and the iPhone for Apple, Intel-branded motherboards for Intel and motherboards for UK computer manufacturer Zoostorm.

Apple investigated claims of abusive Foxconn employment practises stemming from a June 2006 complaint, and found the claims to be largely unfounded.

However, it did conclude that some employees were working more than Foxconn’s mandated maximum during peak production times, and that as many as a quarter of workers were not getting at least one day off a week.

Foxconn spokesman Arthur Huang said in an email to the Associated Press the company is dedicated to carrying out social responsibility programs to ensure the welfare of its employees.

Foxconn has been evaluated by prominent non-government organsations such as Oxfam to be a leader in social responsibility practices, Huang said.

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