Foxconn Technology Group opened its door for mediapersons on Wednesday as the giant company — maker of iPods and other popular gadgets — tried to repair an image damaged by a spate of employee suicides in China. It showed off a motherboard factory, swimming pool and a hot line center for workers with emotional problems.
Hours later another male employee fell to his death from a building at the company’s Shenzhen complex, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The report said Foxconn confirmed the death, but it was not immediately clear if it was suicide.
The company’s chairman, Terry Gou, earlier in the day repeatedly apologized for the 10 confirmed suicides this year and told reporters the firm would do everything possible to prevent more deaths. Nets were put on buildings to stop people from jumping, and about 100 mental health counsellors were being trained.
“We need some time,” he said. “But we are confident. We are extremely determined.”
Mr. Gou said he has been having trouble sleeping at night because of the suicides, the latest one reported Tuesday when a 19-year-old man jumped from a building after working at the plant for about a month. The Foxconn head also said he dreads the sound of his own phone ringing after work hours because he’s afraid it will be news of another death.
The tour with six busloads of journalists went through the palm tree-lined streets of the sprawling factory complex in the southern city of Shenzhen, near Hong Kong.
Foxconn was trying to address allegations from labour groups that the workers were killing themselves because of hellish conditions in the factories, which churn out iPhones, Dell computers, Nokia mobile phones and many other big-selling electronics.
“We want to make every worker have a happy life and work environment here,” Mr. Gou said.
Pikhart added, “I guess one of the reasons why these got the news they did is that maybe these are workplace suicides.”
The factories making Apple products weren’t part of the . As Gou’s entourage walked through the factory, a large group of Foxconn staffers in white polo shirts fanned out and observed workers who talked to reporters.
“We’re treated pretty well here,” said one worker, who would only give her surname, Chen. “I think the suicides were caused by individual problems.”
When asked if working conditions might have driven their colleagues to suicide, another worker, who only provided his surname, Zhang, just shrugged and said, “I don’t know.”