Foxconn, one of Apple’s main OEMs, announced Monday that it was hiring more than 100 Buddhist monks and other counsellors to help stem a string of suicides occurring in its factories in China. According to the AFP, Foxconn said that the counselling services have been introduced mainly at its facilities in Shenzhen, China, where the company employs more than 300,000 workers.
Foxconn does manufacturing for many, many companies, including iPhones, iPods, iPads, and the Mac mini for Apple (from the most recent information - Apple does not specifically disclose outsourcing information). The firm also makes Kindles for Amazon, PCs for HP, mobile phones for Motorola, devices for Cisco, Xbox 360s for Microsoft, PCs for Dell, and any number of additional products for additional companies.
The counselling services are being introduced at the company’s facilities after a spate of suicides amongst the ranks of workers. A seventh worker recently died in a suicide jump at a Foxconn factory. In 2006, Apple released the results of an audit that found Foxconn, which is also known by its parent company Hon Hai Industries, violated overtime rules and other practices.
Neither Apple nor any of the other companies that do business with Foxconn have been implicated in the deaths, and Apple performs regular audits of its OEMs to ensure they are adhering to Apple and local labor standards.
The AFP reported that a Hong Kong workers’ rights group called China Labor Bulletin is citing the suicides as an indication of the pressure faced by young workers in China. Said workers are usually required to work long hours and to live in on-site facilities built for the labor force - as such, they can spend long periods of time away from their families.
Buddhist monks are offering prayer services, and other counsellors are offering direct counselling services.