Apple’s Public Relations Nightmare Brought to You By Foxconn

Job cuts at a Shenzhen-based Foxconn facility appear to have pushed a worker to throw herself from the roof of the plant, AppleInsider is reporting. Somehow –details are few — she survived the fall, which appears to have been from seven or eight story height.

Suicide attempts are not new to Foxconn, the company contracted to manufacture orders for several major device makers, most notably Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). The company has gone so far as installing nets around its buildings to prevent jumpers from killing themselves (or trying) at its plants.  The negative attention has reflected badly on Apple in the past, which has since made commendable efforts to increase its transparency and ensure that all its suppliers are working towards complete compliance with its 60 hour workweek limits.

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People’s Daily — the state-run Chinese media giant, which already has been taking shots at Apple for other reasons — reported that Foxconn has been trying to persuade employees to resign, in efforts to trim workforce costs to accommodate lightening Apple orders. Foxconn denied the claims, in direct contrast to recent reports, which have claimed the company has not only reduced wages, but also begun charging employees for services that were once free, AppleInsider said.

The latest suicide attempt raises some interesting points about the labor practices in China. Originally, the suicides and attempts made were an effort to bring attention the deplorable working conditions that Chinese firms have built a reputation for. Unsafe environments,  overworking, and other problems that first world companies must be aware of when contracting in third or developing world countries.

However, now it appears that it was the threat of job removal that spurred the woman to jump (reports say that there were three others on the roof, who intended to jump as well), and begs the question, just what exactly is really going on there? It’s hard to ignore the somber irony that the suicides are now being spurred by the fear of losing the positions that were initially driving people to kill themselves to escape before.

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Apple announced in January that it had ended its contract with a supplier, Guangdong Real Faith Pingzhou Electronics, when it found out that the firm had committed 74 underage labor violations. Apple’s code of labor states that “the minimum age for employment or work is 15 years of age, the minimum age for employment in that country, or the age for completing compulsory education in that country, whichever is higher,” AppleInsider reported.

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