Suicide at Chinese iPhone factory reignites concern over working conditions

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  A US-based Chinese workers’ rights organisation has claimed that a factory worker at a firm that produces Apple’s iPhones in China, died after jumping from a building on Saturday.
China Labor Watch (CLW) said that Li Ming, 31, jumped to his death from a building in the city of Zhengzhou, in the east-central Chinese Henan province, where he had been working for Foxconn.
The death has triggered comparisons with a wave of suicides in 2010 and 2011 at Foxconn factories in China amid concerns over working conditions.
CLW posted video footage that it said showed Mr Li, who the organisation claimed was was working for Foxconn through an agency, lying lifelessly on the ground after his leap. The footage, seemingly filmed from a nearby high-rise building, shows a body lying in the snowy ground, as four people stand nearby.
CLW said that it had spoken to Mr Li’s father, but that it was still not clear why he had jumped from the building. The organisation told The Telegraph that he had been working for Foxconn for two months and lived in factory dormitories.
Foxconn’s spokesperson did not respond to messages asking for further information about the incident. 
CLW’s claim has the potential to reignite controversy surrounding the working conditions of workers at Taiwanese firm Foxconn, which is China’s biggest private sector employer with a workforce believed to be in excess of 1.2 million.
In 2010 the company was faced with allegations of forcing its workers to endure “sweat shop” conditions that led to a spate of suicides during that year.
Following reports of worker suicides the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs said: "We are on top of this… Foxconn is not a sweatshop. It's a factory – but my gosh, they have restaurants and movie theatres... but it's a factory. But they've had some suicides and attempted suicides – and they have 400,000 people there. The rate is under what the US rate is, but it's still troubling."
In 2011 Foxconn, which also manufactures for Nintendo, Sony and BlackBerry, installed nets outside some of its factory buildings in Shenzhen, in China’s southeast Guangdong province, in an attempt to quell suicide attempts.
In January 2012 a group of 150 workers in a Foxconn factory in Wuhan, in the central Hubei province, protested against working conditions by standing on the roof of a factory building and threatening to commit suicide. 
One Wuhan worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the protest was the result of around 600 workers being moved to a new factory location where conditions were unbearable.
"The assembly line ran very fast and after just one morning we all had blisters and the skin on our hand was black,” they said. “The factory was also really choked with dust and no one could bear it.”
After the protest a Foxconn spokesperson said: "The welfare of our employees is our top priority and we are committed to ensuring that all employees are treated fairly.”
According to CLW, Zhengzhou, where Mr Li is reported to have died, is where Foxconn manufactures the Apple X smartphone, which was released last November.
Chinese state media reported that Zhengzhou is where around half of Apple’s iPhones are manufactured. About 350,000 workers reportedly work on production lines in the city to make iPhones at a rate of 350 per minute.
The Chinese state-controlled newspaper China Daily reported that Foxconn had created a “complete industry chain in counties and towns of Zhengzhou, which include a headquarters, precision electronics companies, and other branch plants, guaranteeing high efficiency and self-sufficiency".

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