Foxconn is once again facing scrutiny over the working conditions at one of its iPhone manufacturing factories in China. A worker committed suicide on Saturday, January 6, by jumping from a window.
This adds to the countless times when Foxconn employees committed suicide over the years in China.
Poor Labor Practices
Ming Li worked at the factory in Zhengzhou, China. He was 31 years old. Li lived in the factory where more than 350,000 employees work. He had worked for Foxconn through an agency for just a little over two months.
The cause of the suicide is still not known. A video of the aftermath of Li's suicide circulated online.
Almost 50 percent of iPhones are made in Zhengzhou. Besides Apple, Foxconn's client list includes Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Blackberry, and Nokia. It is the largest private sector employer in China with around 1.2 million workers.
In November, students were found to be illegally working overtime to make parts for the iPhone X. Under Chinese law, students are not allowed to work overtime. The students were working 11-hour days at the same factory in Zhengzhou.
This new death brings attention to Foxconn and its suicide problem over working conditions. Suicides at Foxconn first came to wide attention when an employee committed suicide after losing a prototype iPhone. He was also reportedly forcefully interrogated before his death.
Foxconn faced scrutiny when it was referred to as a sweatshop in 2010. That same year, 13 suicides made headlines and brought attention to the working conditions of the Foxconn factories.
It again made headlines the following year when it erected suicide nets at its Shenzhen factory. To combat the suicide problem, Foxconn pledged to raise its salaries by 20 percent and began offering counseling to prevent suicides from happening again.
This was not enough, however, as in 2012 150 workers threatened to commit mass suicide over their working conditions. Workers stayed on the roof of the Wuhan factory for two days. They protested Foxconn's move into a new production line that caused their hands to blister due to the speed that they were expected to keep up.
Foxconn president Terry Gou in 2010 had said that he had trouble sleeping for fear that he would get news of another death.