08/06/2010, 00.00
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Another suicide at Foxconn in Jiangsu

A 22-year-old woman, who injured herself by jumping off the roof of a dormitory, dies in hospital. Working conditions are the main problem. Installing safety nets around building has not stopped the spate of suicide attempts.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A 22-year-old woman leapt from the roof of a dormitory inside the Foxconn plant in Kunshan, Jiangsu. She was found severely injured at 4 am and was taken to a hospital where she died ten hours later.

The incident occurred on Wednesday but information about the tragedy was released only today. The young woman’s death is the 16th suicide attempt by an employee at the Taiwanese-owned electronics company, which makes IPhones for Apple and various components for Siemens, Nokia, Sony, Dell and Hewlett-Packard.

In a statement, Foxconn said the woman had joined its staff in March and that it was cooperating with investigators to find the reasons for the tragedy. It expressed its “deepest sympathy and condolences to the worker's family”, adding that it was “providing support to them at this very sad time."

The spate of suicides has put the spotlight on the problems faced by migrant workers. Forced to work up to 14 hours a day, they are unable to earn enough money to send to their families even with overtime, and must accept often appalling working conditions that include, for example, a ban on talking to each other.

The Taiwanese company has spent 180 million yuan (US$ 26 million) installing millions of square metres of anti-suicide netting on dormitory buildings at its factories in Shenzhen, Henan and Jiangsu. However, it appears all in vain.

When they are hired, workers are required to sign a contract that includes a pledge not commit suicide. The company also provides counsellors and monks to help staff cope with psychological problems. It has also promised to increase wages by 66 per cent in October.

At the same time however, it is planning to shift 300,000 of its 420,000 Shenzhen workers to inland provinces such as Hubei and Henan, where average monthly salaries are lower, to reduce the impact of the pay rise on its profitability.

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