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Reports: Foxconn to close factories in China

Apple device manufacturer ends suicide payments

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Foxconn – the electronics manufacturer whose clients include Apple, Dell and HP – is on the verge of closing its mainland China operations in a massive restructuring effort that could see 800,000 workers lose their jobs.

The Register first reported the news, citing a Chinese-language news site ON.CC as its source (Google translation available here). The report has not been verified at time of writing.

The iPad manufacturer has come under media scrutiny in recent months after a wave of suicides at its huge Shenzhen plant. Now the electronics maker Foxconn says it is considering moving some of its production back to Taiwan, the island where it has its headquarters.

The iPad manufacturer also made headlines yesterday after it announced it will no longer pay extra compensation to families of employees who kill themselves. The announcement follows a spate of suicides at its sprawling south China factory.

According to a report on MIC Gadget, Foxconn CEO Guo Tai-ming has said workers commit suicide for the money, and the company will no longer compensate the families of Foxconn workers who take their own lives.

As evidence, the CEO brandished what he said was a suicide note written by an employee. The letter, written in Chinese, translates as follows, according to MIC Gadget: "Mom, you always tell me to die, and now I will jump down from Foxconn. I really have to go. You don't have to feel sad: Foxconn will pay some money, and as your son, this is the only way to return you." This particular employee was rescued, according to Guo.

Gou also said a "Suicide Association" has carried out an investigation on Foxconn, and 12 suicide victims. The survey concluded that three of them had a mental illness, and another eight had other emotional disorders.

Beyond putting an end to the suicide compensation program, Tai-ming said Foxconn is considering moving its main production lines back to Taiwan and using more automated production - as well as selling the company's dormitories to the local government so that authorities could take responsibility for the living conditions.

Apple, Intel and HP are among the IT giants to outsource their manufacturing to Foxconn in China.

Ted Samson at InfoWorld contributed to this article.


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