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What on earth is going on at Foxconn?

As bad publicity goes, Chinese contract manufacturer Foxconn has had its fair share in the last few months. Since January, the Shenzhen based contract manufacturer – whose customers include Apple, Dell and HP – has had to contend with no less than nine employees jumping to their deaths from the factory roof.

Eyebrows are inevitably being raised and no doubt the top brass will be wishing they could bury their heads in the sand.

While (unfounded) rumours circulate about harsh working conditions, and with investigations underway by its three biggest customers, the company is taking unorthodox measures to address the horrifying issue.
Recently, Foxconn's chairman, Terry Gou, hired Buddhist monks to pray for the workers, as well as introducing a reward system for employees who spot colleagues with emotional problems. Unfortunately, since then, two further employees took the plunge.

Realising the sensitive approach was a failure, Gou fine tuned his strategy and took a more practical approach, announcing plans to build nets around the dormitories, catching any plummeting workers.

It may seem an odd solution, but think about it. Any employee considering taking that final leap may be heartened by the light relief of co-workers bouncing up and down outside the window. Perhaps he could even consider trampolines, thus enabling the suicidal worker to bounce back through the window, knuckle back down to work and jolly well stop whining?

Foxconn spokesman Edmund Ding recently told the BBC that the company was taking the issue very seriously, even though local government investigations had not blamed the deaths on working conditions. Quoting the law of averages, he added that in a workforce of over 400,000, some people were bound to attempt suicide sooner or later.

Keep checking the RSS feeds.

Chris Shaw

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