Another Foxconn suicide

November 5, 2010, 12:34 PM UTC

It’s the 14th at a Hon Hai plant so far this year, according to Chinese labor groups

Foxconn's August rally. AP Photo/Kin Cheung

Reuters reports that a 23-year-old Foxconn employee was found dead outside a dormitory in the company’s Shenzhen factory complex Friday morning.

Foxconn is describing the young man’s death as a suicide — the 14th so far this year according to a count maintained by Chinese labor rights groups.

Foxconn, a publicly traded subsidiary of Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, is the world’s largest manufacturer of electronic components. Its Shenzhen compound 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 four months, Foxconn has responded to the cluster of suicides, complaints of excessive overtime and outbreaks of labor unrest by pledging to improve wages and working conditions. In August, it staged a series of motivational rallies and removed safety nets that had been installed on its balconied dormitories to discourage suicide leaps.

In May Steve Jobs responded to a customer’s concerned e-mail by citing national statistics:

“Although every suicide is tragic,” he wrote, “Foxconn’s suicide rate is well below the China average.”

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