Foxconn, the world's largest electronics manufacturer, continues to have more problem with workplace suicides. Just hours after a press conference held by company chairman Terry Gou on the matter of the bad publicity, a 12th worker, a 23-year-old, jumped to his death.
It is generally believed that Foxconn does not treat workers much harsher than any other manufacturing company based in Shenzen, in southern China. However that is not saying much, with very long hours at very low wages, a workers' dormitory the leaves the employees in near isolation from the outside world, abusive managers, and six day work-weeks.
While 12 suicides since January is a lot, this number is somewhat offset by the fact that Foxconn has over 400,000 workers. If China's national statistics are accurate, the suicide rate at Foxconn is actually much less than the national average (source).
At the press conference, Terry Gou said that the company was looking at how to improve the situation. In addition to planning to hire 70 staff psychologists, the company, incredibly, is planning to install 1.5 million square meters of netting around the workplace and dorms, to make it more difficult for employees to kill themselves on company property. "Although this seems like a 'dumb' measure, at least it could save lives," Terry Guo was quoted as saying.
At the press conference, Foxconn also came under fire for reportedly making factory workers sign a contract to promise that they wouldn't hurt themselves, and if they did, the contract forces them to relinquish the rights any of their family members have to sue the company for their suicides. If you like, you can read a translation of the contract over here.
(Note: Image above not from a Foxconn factory.)