HONG KONG — A 21-year-old employee of Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn jumped to his death in southern China, reports said Wednesday, the latest in a string of deaths involving its workers.
Foxconn, which is the world’s largest maker of computer components and assembles products for Apple, including the iPhone, Sony and Nokia, is in the spotlight after suicides and labour unrest at its massive Chinese plants.
At least 13 employees died in apparent suicides last year which activists blamed on tough working conditions and led to calls for better treatment of staff.
The latest death was of a man who only started work at the company’s sprawling plant in Shenzhen on June 27. He died on Tuesday, according to the Hong Kong Economic Times, quoting a Foxconn official.
The paper and Taiwan’s Commercial Times reported that the man, whose body was discovered outside his on-site dormitory, had only done two hours of overtime since starting work and disputed the death was linked to work pressure.
Police are investigating the fatal incident, the reports said.
Arthur Huang, a spokesman for Foxconn’s Taiwan-based parent company Hon Hai Precision, declined to confirm or comment when contacted by AFP.
In May, three workers died and 15 others were hurt in a blast at the plant of a Foxconn subsidiary in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu.
The incident led the firm to shut down all its workshops that polish electronic parts and products in China after an initial investigation showed the accident may have been caused by an explosion of combustible dust.
Foxconn employs about one million workers in China, about half of them based in its main facility in the southern industrial boomtown of Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong.
It said in March that it swung to a net loss of $218.3 million in 2010 on revenue of $6.63 billion, about eight percent lower than in 2009 — adding to mounting woes at the Taipei-based firm over the past few years.