Foxconn stages anti-suicide rallies

Also announces plans to increase its workforce in China to 1 million employees

Thousands of workers at Foxconn's giant Shenzhen industrial park turned out Wednesday for what the company billed as a "Treasure Your Life, Love Your Family, Care for Each Other to Build a Wonderful Future" motivational event, but which the Western press quickly characterized as an anti-suicide rally.

Foxconn, a publicly traded subsidiary of Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, is the world's largest manufacturer of electronic components. Its compound in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen employs more than 300,000 workers and assembles -- at great speed and amid high security -- a wide variety of high-tech gadgets, from computers for Dell (dell) and Hewlett-Packard (hpq) to iPods, iPads and iPhones for Apple (aapl).

Over the past two years, the company has been hit with outbreaks of labor unrest, complaints of excessive overtime and a series of high-profile worker suicides -- 12 so far this year. The company has pledged to improve wages and working conditions and has installed safety nets on its balconied dormitories to discourage suicide leaps.

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Wednesday's rally in Shenzhen was preceded by a similar event Monday at its smaller (60,000 employee) facility in the northern Chinese city of Taiyuan.

Earlier this year, Foxconn announced two sets of wage increases, more than doubling the basic worker pay at at the Shenzhen compound to 2,000 yuan ($293) a month. At a news conference Wednesday, the company announced plans to cut overtime to a maximum of 36 hours a month (from about 80 hours today) and to increase its workforce in China 9% this year -- to 1 million workers -- and another 20% to 30% in 2011.

Via Silicon Alley Insider.

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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