Latest Foxconn Suicide Raises Concern Over Factory Life in China

The Guardian looks at the recent spate of apparent suicides of workers at the Foxconn manufacturing plants in China:

Foxconn has expressed sorrow over the seven deaths, all involving workers aged between 18 and 24, and two suicide attempts. It blamed personal issues such as romantic troubles, family problems and loneliness, but has called in experts for advice on preventing further deaths.

The company has set up a helpline for depressed workers, established rooms with punchbags to help employees vent frustrations and offered 200 yuan (£20) bonuses to staff who warn managers when colleagues have emotional problems. It has even called in Buddhist monks to conduct religious rites to get rid of misfortune, hoping to dispel staff anxieties.

It said the measures had allowed it to prevent 20 “possible” suicides in the past three weeks, although it has not explained whether that figure refers to actual or threatened attempts, or simply to the identification of potentially vulnerable workers.

…Foxconn’s rival Huawei, also in Shenzhen, saw several suicides between 2006 and 2008. Six employees reportedly killed themselves or died in uncertain circumstances.

An opinion piece in the English language Global Times newspaper argued that people should pay more attention to the “fiercely competitive atmosphere, the pressure [migrant workers] are under and the effects it has on them.”

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