The Tech News Blog

May 20, 2013

Reports: 3 More Foxconn Employees Commit Suicide

Foxconn Worker

Suicide continues to plague Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics manufacturing giant best known for making Apple products.

At least two Foxconn workers, and one prospective employee, have fallen to their deaths in Zhengzhou, China over the last 20 days, according to various reports. The most recent incident occurred on May 14, when a 30-year-old male from Henan, who had been working at Foxconn since the end of April, jumped off the roof of a building, New York-Based nonprofit China Labor Watch reported on Friday.

Before that, a 23-year-old female worker reportedly leapt off the twelfth floor of an apartment building on April 27, China Labor Watch said. Just days earlier on April 24, a 24-year-old male worker jumped off the roof of a dormitory building.

Foxconn's parent company Hon Hai told The Wall Street Journal in a statement that the employee deaths on April 27 and May 14 occurred outside of the company's property and there wasn't any reason to believe they were work-related. The technology giant said that the 24-year-old man who died on April 24 was not a Foxconn employee, but had applied for a job with the company.

According to a separate report from PCWorld, another worker from Foxconn's Chongqing, China facility was found dead on May 11 after jumping from a building. Police are investigating the incident.

At this point, the reason for the suicides is unclear.

April 1, 2013

Report: Foxconn Worker Jumps From Factory Roof Amidst Job Cuts

Foxconn suicide attempt

At least one employee at Foxconn, the manufacturing giant best known for making Apple products, has reportedly jumped from a factory roof in Shenzhen, China due to concerns over job security.

According to AppleInsider, which cited reports from Chinese micro-blogging website Sina Weibo, a female worker jumped from the roof at Foxconn's Shenzhen factory this past Friday at 9 a.m. local time but survived. By noon, three other employees had also climbed to the roof of the building and were threatening to jump, the blog said.

According to other reports, a second person jumped off the roof, though there is no word about their condition.

Foxconn did not immediately respond when contacted by, but has denied to other outlets that the incidents occurred.

Unfortunately, suicide at Foxconn is not a new phenomenon. At least 14 Foxconn workers in Shenzen and Chengdu have taken their own lives in a string of worker suicides since early 2010. Foxconn has since forced employees to sign a pledge promising that they won't commit suicide and installed nets outside factory dormitories to deter potential jumpers.

June 6, 2012

Report: Dozens Arrested After Riot at Foxconn Factory

Foxcon  Riot Dozens of workers at a Foxconn plant in Chengdu, China were arrested this week after a clash with security staff, according to a report.

Taiwan-based Want China Times (WCT) reported that the clash broke out Monday night at a male dormitory for Foxconn workers. Security guards had attempted to stop a thief, when several employees with grudges against the officers forced them away.

The situation rapidly escalated, and up to 1,000 workers eventually joined in, WCT reported. Workers threw trash bins, chairs, pots, bottles, and even fireworks from the upper floors of the building, destroying public facilitates.

The riot ended after two hours, after dorm administrators reported the case to local police and hundreds of officers arrived at the scene to suppress the violence. Dozens were arrested.

Foxconn, the world's largest electronic contract manufacturer, employs up to 120,000 people at its plant in Chengdu, located in southwestern China. The factory mainly produces liquid crystal displays for electronic products such as Apple's iPhone.

Foxconn has repeatedly come under fire for harsh working conditions. Late last month, a watchdog group released a study that criticized Foxconn for limited freedoms, inhumane treatment, and unsafe working conditions, among other things. An earlier Apple-commissioned report from the Fair Labor Association found abuses at Foxconn facilities, but said that the firm had agreed to make changes.

ABC's Nightline also gained access to a Foxconn factory recently, and did not uncover any particularly shocking conditions, while This American Life was forced to retract a controversial episode about Apple factories in China that featured storyteller Mike Daisey. An explosion at the Chengdu factory last year killed two workers and injured 16 others.

March 21, 2012

Apple: We’re Making Progress to Reduce Excessive Working Hours

Apple said it made progress in February to reduce excessive employee overtime at its suppliers' factories.

In a recent update to its Supplier Responsibility website, Apple said that in January, supplier-collected data about 500,000 employees showed that 84 percent complied with its maximum 60-hour work week rule. Last month, that compliance rate increased to 89 percent, and the average employee worked 48 hours per week, Apple said.

"That's a substantial improvement over previous results, but we can do better," Apple said. The Cupertino tech giant promised to continue providing monthly updates.

Daring Fireball first reported Apple's update and noted that February's reduced work hours likely occurred while production of the new iPad was in full-force. As part of its supplier code of conduct, Apple limits factory working hours to a maximum of 60 work hours per week and requires at least one day of rest per seven days of work, barring emergencies or unusual circumstances.

Apple has come under fire in recent months over working conditions at its suppliers' overseas factories. A recent New York Times exposé detailed gang-like working conditions and questionable safety practices at Foxconn, the main assembler of the company's popular consumer devices.

February 22, 2012

Nightline Apple Special Highlights Spotless Foxconn Factories, Low Wages

ABC's Nightline went inside the Chengdu, China factories of Foxconn last night, where most of the world's iPads, iPhones, and Mac computers are produced.

The visit, which happened in conjunction with the Fair Labor Association's (FLA) audit of Foxconn facilities, showed off spotless factory floors where thousands of workers put together various iDevices as a computerized voice chirps "OK!" after each successful move.

But workers earn only $1.78 per hour and when Nightlinehost Bill Weir spoke to employees, many complained about the low wages. Still, they lined up by the thousands at dawn in order to snag a job at Foxconn. And Foxconn will hire about 80 percent of the 3,000 people waiting at the gates, thanks to demand for Apple's gadgets.

Despite the minimal pay, long hours, and close quarters (workers pay $17.50 per month to live in a seven-person dorm room), Foxconn is often a better alternative to staying in rural villages. Weir visited one such village near Chengdu, where large families lived in one-room homes with very few amenities. Despite the proximity to the Foxconn plant, though, the majority had never even seen an iPad.

February 20, 2012

Nightline Clip Provides Glimpse of Apple Foxconn Factories

ABC announced Friday that it had secured exclusive access to Apple's Foxconn factories in China, and the network this week released a clip (below) with more details about its visit.

Nightline's Bill Weir is seen on the floor of Foxconn's Chengdu factory as workers clad in fingerless white gloves and uniforms pull and scan boxed iPads from the line.

"Tens of millions of people around the world have opened one of those sublime, white boxes to marvel at the brilliance of the iPad, but no one from the outside has ever seen how these machines are built. Until now," Weir says in a promotional video.

He goes on to mention the scandals with which Foxconn and Apple have had to contend in recent years - from the worker suicides to calls for an "ethical" iPhone. But despite the troubles, hundreds of hopeful workers are shown at the Foxconn gates, rushing the front door in the hopes of securing a job that pays less than $1.50 an hour.

The special, which will air on Tuesday night at 11:35pm Eastern, promises to show you how your iPhone, iPad, and MacBook is made, and feature interviews with Foxconn workers and execs alike.

February 17, 2012

Report: Apple Supplier Foxconn Raises Worker Pay at Chinese Plants

Foxconn Technology Group, the giant contract manufacturer under fire for working conditions at its Chinese factories where Apple's iPhones and iPads are assembled, has raised worker wages by 16 to 25 percent, Reuters reported Friday.

The Taiwan-based company, which has instituted three pay raises for its Chinese workforce since 2010, said in a statement that wages for junior level workers at its Shenzhen plant had been increased to 1,800 yuan a month, or about $285.

Workers who pass a technical examination are eligible for an additional increase of their monthly salaries to 2,200 yuan, or nearly $350, according to Reuters.

"As a top manufacturing company in China, the basic salary of junior workers in all of Foxconn's China factories is already far higher than the minimum wage set by all local governments," the company's statement said, according to the news agency. "We will provide more training opportunities and learning time, and will continuously enhance technology, efficiency and salary, so as to set a good example for the Chinese manufacturing industry."

Foxconn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

February 14, 2012

Apple’s Tim Cook: ‘We Care About Every Worker’

Apple chief Tim Cook on Tuesday defended the working conditions of the company's international suppliers, arguing that "we care about every worker."

"We believe that every worker has the right to a fair and safe work environment, free of discrimination where they can earn competitive wages and where they can voice their complaints freely," Cook said during the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference. "And Apple suppliers must live up to this to do business with Apple."

His comments come one day after Apple asked the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to conduct audits of Apple's final assembly suppliers, including Foxconn. The issue made headlines after a series of articles in the New York Times questioned whether Apple products are manufactured under safe and humane conditions. Concerns about Foxconn, however, have been going on much longer, with reports about worker suicides making news since at least 2010.

Cook, however, said Apple and its executives are "closely connected to the production process, and we understand working conditions at a very granular level." He pointed to his own experience working at a paper mill in Alabama and an aluminum plant in Virginia.

February 13, 2012

Apple Asks Labor Group to Inspect Factories, Starting With Foxconn

Amidst reports of harsh working conditions, Apple has asked the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to conduct audits of its final assembly suppliers, including Foxconn.

In a Monday statement, Apple said labor rights experts - led by FLA president Auret van Heerden - started inspections this morning at a Foxconn facility in Shenzhen. The group will also assess Foxconn's Chengdu factory.

"We believe that workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment, which is why we've asked the FLA to independently assess the performance of our largest suppliers," said Apple CEO Tim Cook. "The inspections now underway are unprecedented in the electronics industry, both in scale and scope, and we appreciate the FLA agreeing to take the unusual step of identifying the factories in their reports."

The audit comes after a series of articles in the New York Times questioned whether Apple products are manufactured under safe and humane conditions. Concerns about Foxconn, however, have been going on much longer, with reports about worker suicides making headlines since at least 2010.

January 27, 2012

Apple’s Tim Cook Responds to Reports of Worker Abuse

Despite a phenomenal earnings report this week, Apple has taken a few rather brutal hits in the media related to the treatment of workers who assemble the iPhone and the iPad. In response, Apple CEO Tim Cook has reportedly sent out a long letter to his staff refuting claims that Apple might be insensitive to worker mistreatment at its factories.

A recent New York Times report called Apple's success into question by offering a dark perspective on Apple factory worker treatment at Foxconn facilities in China.

Cook's response letter was obtained by 9to5Mac and goes into great detail regarding Cook's thoughts on the matter. Cook starts off by flatly denying any assertions that indicate a lack of concern on Apple's part.

"As a company and as individuals, we are defined by our values. Unfortunately some people are questioning Apple's values today, and I'd like to address this with you directly," Cook wrote. "We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern. Any suggestion that we don't care is patently false and offensive to us. As you know better than anyone, accusations like these are contrary to our values. It's not who we are."