Praying for a better working environment

May 17 2010 by Nicola Hunt Print This Article

Management at Foxconn Technology, the world's biggest contract maker of electronics, have invited monks from the Sacred Buddist Shrine of Wutai Mountain, to pray for a positive working environment after two workers committed suicide within days of each other earlier this month, the sixth and seventh such tragedies since the beginning of the year.

Liu Kun, director of Foxconn's press office, told China Daily: "The victims' families asked us to bless the dead and release their souls from suffering."

While Foxconn is far from being the only Chinese enterprise to be affected by the problem , it is the most high-profile thanks to its relationship with Apple. Foxconn is the main supplier for products, including the iPhone and iPod, and makes components for most of the leading electronics and computer companies in the world, including Sony, Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Intel. It is also the leading contract maker of mobile phones, manufacturing handsets for Nokia, Motorola and Sony Ericsson.

The company has denied that its working environment where employees work in shifts around the clock and reports of bullying and abuse are to blame.

Apple investigated working conditions at its Chinese suppliers in 2006 following reports of poor employee treatment but found no evidence that they were in breach of Apple's compliance guidelines.

And don't forget that the scandal that has embroiled France Telecom, whose deputy chief executive resigned last October after the 24th employee suicide since July 2008 - something Unions and staff blame firmly on a bullying, micro- managerial culture.