Foxconn suicides: families seek compensation from the firm
Alienating work conditions held responsible. The company insists that it is the working conditions in all Chinese factories. While media and public opinion are uncertain, Beijing begins investigations into the causes of suicides.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Foxconn insists that the spate of suicides among its workers (13 attempted suicides and 11 deaths alone in 2010) is a result of social problems and not alienating work conditions and refuses to compensate victim’s relatives. But the victim’s families are insisting that responsibilities be investigated. Public opinion has bgun to question the Chinese model of development.

The Taiwan Company, a world leader in the manufacture of electronic and computer parts, insists that the working conditions in the Longhua (Shenzhen) factory are the same as those in many companies in China. A spokesperson expressed "understanding" for the great loss the families of suicide victims and offered "decent consolation money," but clarified that "we have not broken any law. We will not pay any compensation".

The victims are young people from poor rural China, who came in search of a better future for themselves and their families, who have now been left without the main breadwinner. Their angered relatives, say that although suicides occur in factories around the country, this does not eliminate the responsibility of Foxconn, given the working conditions (shifts of 12 consecutive hours with 30 minutes to eat and 10 minutes to go to the bathroom, forbidden to even talk among the workers, a strict almost military discipline even in the dorms and cafeteria, a ban on discussing orders of superiors and severe public rebukes) and the chain of suicides.

Chinese law provides for the obligation of compensation for accidents at work, but there are no specific provisions for the suicides. In 2009, the company offered 300 thousand Yuan to the parents of Sun Danyong, who committed suicide after being suspected of having stolen a prototype iPhone.

Now Foxconn is promising salary increases of approximately 20% to 200 thousand of the 400 thousand factory workers. But analysts point out that behind the story of these poor suicide victims, much more is at stake: the Chinese system of authorities and multinational companies who invest their wealth in the exploitation of migrant workers treated like animals for poor wages (the wage is at Foxconn is about 900 Yuan per month, about 90 Euros) is now under attack

Beijing knows this and is running for cover: a team led by Yin Weimin, Minister of Human Resources and Social Security has been at work in the factory since yesterday, to determine the causes of suicide. Even the Shenzhen City Hall has sent an inspection team. Meanwhile, the Office for Labour and Social Security and the Chinese Trade Union talk of creating local offices to address the distress of young workers. No authority has yet spoken of reviewing conditions and working hours. In addition, the Chinese government has asked all Chinese media to tone down reports on working conditions at Foxconn and reduce the space given to news about suicides.

Meanwhile, in Taipei rights activists protested outside the headquarters of Foxconn, demaning more humane working conditions for Chinese workers.