Rash of suicides at Chinese factory complex

Company brings in more counsellors, opens a stress room to address problem
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 11/09/2010

More than 300,000 people live and work at Foxconn's factory complex in southern China and so far this year 10 of them have taken their own lives and three more have attempted suicide.

The factory workers sleep, eat and work in the complex that has three hospitals, a fire station, supermarkets and restaurants in 2.3 square kilometres in the city of Shenzhen.

The workers assemble iPhones, Dell computers and products for Sony and Hewlett Packard.

While the number of suicides at the complex is below China's average rate of 14 suicides per 100,000, no one knows exactly why the workers are taking their own lives and Foxconn is worried.

The company's chairman made a public apology for the tragedies and the company has brought in more counsellors, started a 24-hour phone counselling service and opened a stress room where workers can hit mannequins with bats to relieve their frustration on mannequins with bats.

These measures helped prevent more than 30 suicides in May, according to a Foxconn spokesperson.

Many of the workers in the complex are young people from the country who have never been away from home, are working long hours, and feeling alone and vulnerable.

They wake up, eat, go to work, return to their dorms and sleep. But with wages higher than many other factories, at about US$300 a month, and a promise from Foxconn to increase wages by 20 per cent, young people are still lining up to get a job despite news of the suicides.

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