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.

February 20, 2013

Foxconn: Hiring Freeze Not Related to iPhone 5 Demand


Apple's largest manufacturing partner, Foxconn Technology Group, has suspended recruitment of new hires, but the company said the decision was not related to production of the iPhone 5.

In an emailed statement to PCMag, Taipei-based Foxconn said the hiring freeze was enacted after more employees returned from the Chinese New Year break than expected. The company denied aFinancial Times report that said the hiring freeze was related to slowing iPhone 5 demand.

"Due to an unprecedented rate of return of employees following the Chinese New Year holiday compared to years past, our company has decided to temporarily slow down our recruitment process," Foxconn's statement reads. "This action is not related to any single customer and any speculation to the contrary is false and inaccurate."

The Financial Times on Wednesday reported that the hiring freeze was implemented amidst slowing demand for the iPhone 5. The freeze "underscores the weakening demand for some Apple products, which has put pressure on the U.S. company's battered share price," the paper said.

An Apple spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

January 17, 2013

AMD Sues Former Employees for Stealing Documents

AMD Logo

AMD has filed suit against four former employees, arguing that the group stole thousands of documents before leaving to go work for one of AMD's biggest rivals, Nvidia.

"This is an extraordinary case of trade secret/misappropriation and strategic solicitation," AMD said in the suit, which was filed this week in Massachusetts district court. "Thousands of AMD documents or electronic files have been taken from its facilities by employees leaving to work for its primary competitor in the graphics business, Nvidia."

The controversy dates back to July 2012, the suit said, when Robert Feldstein left AMD. "He transferred sensitive AMD documents, and in the next six months the remaining three defendants either did the same thing, violated 'no-solicitation of employees' promises, or both - all obvious violations of common law, statute, and/or contracts with AMD," AMD said in the suit, which was posted online by ZDNet.

AMD said it has evidence that Feldstein - as well as Manoo Desai and Nicolas Kociuk - transferred sensitive documents to an external storage device during their last days at AMD. "The volume of materials ... exceeds 100,000 electronic files," AMD said.

The documents in question include data that is "obviously" confidential and proprietary, AMD said. Feldstein, for example, transferred licensing agreements with "significant" customers, a document that outlined AMD's licensing strategy, and the contents of his Outlook email account. Desai, meanwhile, transferred 200 files about "Perforce," an AMD internal database with details about confidential work. Kociuk is accused of transferring more than 150,000 files - "believed to be full copies of AMD laptops and desktop computers," AMD said - to an external hard drive.

December 28, 2012

Foxconn Factory Conditions Improving, One Comfy Chair at a Time

Foxconn employees

Working conditions seem to be improving at Apple production partner Foxconn's mainland China factories, if that's what more comfortable chairs and protective foam on low stairwell ceilings mean.

New York Times article published Wednesday details positive changes at Foxconn's China-based plants, which have been criticized by global labor rights groups and were toured by the Fair Labor Association (FLA) at Apple's request earlier this year.

In May, reports from both the Hong Kong-based watchdog group Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) and the FLA found abuses at Foxconn facilities. This year's multiple Apple product launches put added pressure on the factories, which allegedly pushed workers into overtime and forced them to endure "humiliating" disciplinary action, including the writing and reading of confession letters, and manual labor duties like toilet cleaning.

A worker uprising came about a month later, when dozens of Foxconn employees were arrested during a riot at the Chengdu, China plant after a class with security staff. Furthermore, reports of an iPhone 5 production line strike surfaced just weeks after the new Apple smartphone hit shelves in September.

But could the Taiwanese contract manufacturing giant be turning things around just in time to make a New Year's resolution?

According to the Times, Foxconn has already carried out more than 280 of 360 changes recommended by the FLA.

November 8, 2012

Report: Foxconn Mulling U.S.-Based Factories

Foxconn iPhone Worker

Foxconn Electronics, the manufacturing giant best known for making Apple's iPhone and iPad, is reportedly looking to set up shop in the U.S.

The Taiwanese company, which has come under fire in recent years over labor rights issues, is currently evaluating the possibility of setting up shop in several U.S. cities such as Detroit and Los Angeles, according to Digitimes, which cited unnamed "market watchers." The rumored U.S. plants won't be manufacturing iDevices, however. Making those products is a rather complicated endeavor, the newspaper reported, so the U.S. plants will instead focus on LCD TV production, an easier and highly automated job.

A Foxconn spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

As for the likelihood of this coming to pass, we'll just have to wait and see. Digitimesstories should sometimes be taken with a grain of salt. Time columnist Harry McCracken recently fact-checked 25 of the paper's tech stories and reported that "16 of these 25 stories turned out to be mostly or completely off-base. Five are largely or entirely correct. And four involve predictions that might yet come true."

November 7, 2012

Foxconn Boss Confirms iPhone 5 Production Delays

iPhone 5

Hon Hai Precision Industry and Foxconn chairman Terry Gou on Wednesday confirmed reports that production of Apple's new iPhone 5 is hitting snags and that the Taiwanese contract manufacturer is unable to supply Apple with as many units as the iPhone maker is requesting.

Gou didn't specify what was causing the production issues in a talk with reporters at a Taipei conference, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"Market demand is very strong, but we just can't really fulfill Apple's requests," Gou was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

It was first reported last month that certain difficult-to-produce components of the new iPhone, such as an anodized aluminum back casing that's prone to scratching, were making it difficult for Apple suppliers like Foxconn to produce the smartphones fast enough to meet demand.

Overtaxed quality control inspectors at Foxconn's mainland China facilities where iPhone 5s are assembled reportedly launched a strike in October to protest new tough-to-meet production standards, though Foxconn at the time denied that there had been a strike or any disruption to iPhone production.

October 16, 2012

Amazon Hiring 50,000 Seasonal Employees

amazon box Looking to earn some extra cash this holiday season? Amazon is hiring.

The online retail giant is gearing up to hire more than 50,000 seasonal employees at its fulfillment centers across the U.S., just in time for the holiday shopping bonanza to begin, the company announced this morning. Even better, Amazon expects to retain many of the new hires beyond the holiday season.

"We're hiring at our sites across the U.S. for talented individuals to help us deliver a great experience for our customers this holiday season," Dave Clark, vice president of global customer fulfillment at Amazon, said in a statement. "Temporary associates play a critical role in meeting increased customer demand during the holiday season, and we expect thousands of temporary associates will stay on in full-time positions."

Amazon said it currently employs more than 20,000 people across the U.S. at its 40 fulfillment centers.

If you're interested in working for Amazon this holiday season, head over to the company's fulfillment careers website, where you can search for open positions and apply online. The site currently lists available seasonal warehouse jobs in a number of states with salaries ranging from $11.00 to $13.50 an hour.

Meanwhile, Amazon isn't the only retailer gearing up for a busy holiday shopping season. Microsoft is expanding its brick-and-mortar retail footprint with the addition of more than 30 new locations for the holidays. The Redmond, Wash.-based computing giant will launch the pop-up holiday stores on Oct. 26. nationwide, with locations planned for New York City, San Francisco, Canada, and more.

October 16, 2012

Foxconn Admits to Hiring Underage Interns


Foxconn on Tuesday confirmed that it employed interns between the ages of 14 and 16.

"An internal investigation carried out by our company has confirmed media reports in China that some participants in the short-term student internship program that is administered at our campus in Yantai, Shandong Province are under the legal working age of 16 years," Foxconn said in a statement. "This is not only a violation of China's labor law, it is also a violation of Foxconn policy and immediate steps have been taken to return the interns in question to their educational institutions."

Foxconn said it is "carrying out a full investigation, in cooperation with the respective educational institutions, to determine how this happened and the actions that must be taken by our company to ensure that it can never happen again."

The company said its own investigation showed that the interns in question worked at Foxconn for about three weeks. "We have found no evidence of similar violations in any of our other campuses in China but we will not hesitate to take immediate action in any campus if any violations are discovered," the firm concluded.

The statement comes after the non-profit China Labor Watch released a report that said Foxconn employed underage interns between the ages of 14 and 16. "These underage interns were mainly sent to Foxconn by schools, but Foxconn did not check the IDs of these young interns," a spokesperson for China Labor Watch said on Moday. "The schools involved in this incident should take primary responsible, but Foxconn is also culpable for not confirming the ages of their workers. China Labor Watch calls on the Chinese government to improve the current intern system of Chinese schools."

In addition to various reports of stressful work conditions and long hours, as well as cramped on-campus living quarters, rumors regarding underage workers at Foxconn have been floated for months, but Foxconn denied any wrondoing, until now.

October 6, 2012

Foxconn Workers Strike Over iPhone 5 Quality Demands

A labor rights group said Friday that workers on the iPhone 5 production line at Foxconn's Zhengzhou factory went on strike earlier this week amidst overly burdensome quality control demands for Apple's new smartphone.

Approximately 3,000-4,000 workers went on strike on Monday, prompting a "widespread work stoppage on the factory floor," China Labor Watch said in a statement.

"According to workers, multiple iPhone 5 production lines from various factory buildings were in a state of paralysis for the entire day," China Labor Watch said.

Most of the workers, the group said, worked in onsite quality control (OQC). China Labor Watch said Foxconn and Apple imposed "strict quality demands" on workers regarding indentation standards and not allowing the frame and back cover of the phone to be scratched.

Furthermore, Foxconn did not allow workers to take a vacation day on Monday, which was China's National Day.

The labor group also said there were physical fights on the factory floor over the quality control issue, resulting in "the injury of some people, and the hospitalization of others."

"This strike is a result of the fact that these workers just have too much pressure," Li Qiang, executive director of China Labor Watch, said in a statement.

Foxconn did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but told Reuters that the strike did not shut down production.