Apple has begun its own investigation into the circumstances surrounding several suicides and suicide attempts at a Foxconn facility that builds iPhones and other electronic devices.
In a statement to BusinessWeek, Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said, “We’re in direct contact with Foxconn senior management and we believe they are taking this matter very seriously. A team from Apple is independently evaluating the steps they are taking to address these tragic events and we will continue our ongoing inspections of the facilities where our products are made.”
Along with Apple, HP is conducting its own investigation because the facility builds some of its products, too. A company spokesperson said HP is looking into “the Foxconn practices that may be associated with these tragic events.”
The facility has seen what appears to be nine suicides and two attempted suicides this year, and is being called a “sweatshop” by China Labor Watch. Terry Gou, chairman for Hon Hai, Foxconn’s parent company, claims his factories offer good working conditions, and recently brought in counselors to offer employees emotional help.
Despite Mr, Gou’s claims, local media is viewing the situation critcally. “Foxconn may not be a sweatshop in the sense that it physically abuses its employees or forces them to work extra hours,” a China Daily Newspaper editorial stated. “That does not mean it is showing enough humanitarian concern for its employees.”
Apple and HP have not stated what actions they plan to take if they discover Foxconn is directly involved in the employee deaths. Considering how much Foxconn produces for the companies, however, it isn’t likely they’ll take their business elsewhere.