An employee of Hon Hai (better known in the western world as Foxconn) has been found dead outside of the company’s campus in China. Hon Hai is the company that manufactures top consumer electronics like the iPhone and the PlayStation 4.
Could this be the start of another wave of employee suicides at Foxconn? Here’s what we know so far.
1. A Hon Hai Employee Died on Sunday Night
Foxconn became infamous in the West after a rash of employee suicides. You can get a refresher on the controversy by watching the CNN report above.
In 2010, Reuters reported that at least 14 Foxconn employees had committed suicide at various plants around China. All of those who died were under the age of 25.
In 2013, the Guardian profiled Tian Yu, one of the Foxconn workers who attempted suicide but survived. She was 17 at the time of her suicide attempt. The Guardian wrote:
“She worked more than 12 hours each day, six days a week. She was compelled to attend early work meetings for no pay, and to skip meals to do overtime. Toilet breaks were restricted; mistakes earned you a shouting-at. And yet there was no training.
In her first month, Yu had to work two seven-day weeks back to back…She was swapped between day and night shifts and kept in an eight-person dormitory where she barely knew the names of her fellow sleepers.
Stranded in a city far from her family, unable to make friends or even get a decent night’s sleep, Yu finally broke when bosses didn’t pay her for the month’s labour because of some administrative foul-up. In desperation, she hurled herself out of a window.”
4. Foxconn/Hon Hai Has Made Some Changes to Benefit Employees
The Wall Street Journal reports that Foxconn has made some changes to improve the lives of their employees:
“The contract manufacturing giant has sought to improve working conditions and implemented suicide-prevention measures following criticism from labor groups, which has added to its labor costs.
Since 2010, the company has continued to raise 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. Foxconn also established an employee care center to give free consultation to workers with emotional problems.”
5. Foxconn Plants Have Been Rocked by Violence
In 2012, a major riot broke out at a Foxconn plant in Taiyuan. CNET reported that 2,000 workers were involved in the riot, which escalated when a personal dispute between some of the workers got out of hand. And in May of 2011, there was an explosion at a Foxconn plant in Chengdu. Three workers died in the blast, which was caused by “combustible dust.”