Foxconn Worker Dies at iPhone Assembly Plant in China

Friday, August 7, 2015

Man's death renews scrutiny of work practices at contract manufacturer after spate of suicides

Source: The Wall Street Journal
By Lorraine Luk

HONG KONG— Apple Inc. assembler Foxconn Technology Group said Friday that an employee died while working at its production site in Zhengzhou, central China, the latest of several incidents that have drawn scrutiny of its labor practices.

Foxconn didn't comment on the cause of death, though New York-based nonprofit organization China Labor Watch said in a report Thursday it was suicide. The cause of death couldn't be independently verified.

Foxconn, known formally as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., makes the bulk of new iPhones at a sprawling factory in Zhengzhou, where it has hired more than 200,000 workers. The company said a 28-year-old male employee who had worked with Foxconn since October 2010 was found dead outside a building on the Zhengzhou campus early on Tuesday.

The company is cooperating with law-enforcement authorities to investigate the incident, Foxconn said in a statement. Apple couldn't be reached immediately for comment.

The latest incident highlights the difficulties that Foxconn, the world's largest contract manufacturer, faces in trying to manage its massive workforce of more than one million in China.

Over the past six years, the Taiwanese company, which assembles most of Apple's iPhones and iPads, has been under scrutiny for its labor practices after a spate of suicides and accidents at its factories in China.

The company has sought to improve working conditions and implemented suicide-prevention measures following criticism from labor groups, adding to its labor costs.

Since 2010, Foxconn has raised wages annually at its plants across China. In 2012, the company opened itself up to audits by the Fair Labor Association and vowed to limit overtime, improve safety and set up more independent unions at its factories.