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Foxconn to employees: Please promise not to kill yourselves. Sign here.  (Source: Shanghaiist)
Letter comes after yet another employee jumped/fell

A thirteenth employee jumped/fell from a high roof or ledge at Foxconn's Shenzhen factory in rural China.  The young woman reportedly survived and Foxconn is disputing reports that she meant to take her life.

The factory in Shenzhen assembles Apple's the majority of Apple's iPads, iPhones, and iPods – it also produces products for HP and Dell among other manufacturers.  After a string of suicides, Apple has become alarmed and has pressured Foxconn to seek solutions to stop the deaths.

The deaths are not unusual when compared to rural China's average suicide rates, which are among the world's highest.  However, they are unusual for Chinese factories, which typically feature lower suicide rates.  For example, last year all of Foxconn's factory towns had only 3 reported suicides, one of which involved the suspicious death of an employee who lost an iPhone prototype.

In addition to Buddhist music, religious counseling, and an anger room (with dummies to beat on with bats), Foxconn reportedly has adopted yet another tactic -- having employees sign a letter promising not to kill themselves.  The letter reads [translated]:

A Letter to Foxconn Colleagues
Dear Colleagues:
We enthusiastically welcome you to the Foxconn Technology Co. family!
To wish you happiness in crossing this career milestone into a great stage in your life, Foxconn has provided you with this: A workplace environment that will help you gain experience and wisdom; complete living facilities; various entertainment venues, learning and sports facilities, and activities; as well as a service staff that will help resolve difficulties.
Please know:
1. If you or your colleagues come across frustrations, grievances, embarrassments in your work, daily activities, schooling, feelings, family life, or health, you can ask for help by calling our "Worker Care Center" hotline: 78585 (phonetically it sounds like "Please help me, help me"). The company will arrange a professional to help you or your colleague solve your problems. If your reports on your colleagues helps prevent an accident, the company will provide an adequate reward.
2. If you have other non-urgent problems, you can also contact the Complaints hotline: 15000, trade union hotline: 81111, employee suggestion box, and the trade union mailbox to make a report. The company will also dispatch a professional to solve the issue.
At the same time, please understand:
1. The company respects operational and management law, and respects and cares about the staff.
2. The way the company deals with employee accidents is based in national law and is in accordance with regulations, as well as the principles of the corporation and humane care. As for the accidents to employees (including suicide, self-mutilation, etc.), the company cannot pay more than what is regulated, but will actively cooperate with government departments according to the laws of compensation and will work out a reasonable pension.
The company is attaching importance to prevention programs, and will continue their expansion. As a reminder, the company has especially drafted this letter for you to sign.
Finally, wish you a smooth career and happy life with the Foxconn family!
Foxconn Technology Co.
May 2010
I am aware of the contents of the open letter as well as the variety of services and care the company is providing. I promise the following:
1. If I encounter problems and difficulties after entering the company, I will ask for help from the "Employee Care Center" and other related departments.
2. In terms of my own responsibilities, if I have great difficulties or frustrations I will reach out to relatives to resolve them or report them to the company director, I will also agree to contact and communicate with colleagues, personal staff and relatives. However, I will not harm myself or others; I agree that, in order for the company to protect me and others, it can send me to a hospital should I exhibit abnormal physical or mental problems.
3. In the event of non-accidental injuries (including suicide, self mutilation, etc.), I agree that the company has acted properly in accordance with relevant laws and regulations, and will not sue the company, bring excessive demands, take drastic actions that would damage the company's reputation or cause trouble that would hurt normal operations.
I confirm that I have read and am aware of these issues
________________ (signature)
Employee number:
Residence number:
Date:

Foxconn employees are reportedly a bit nervous about the letter, as they worry that it will give their supervisors grounds to have them committed to a mental hospital if they disagree with them.  They may not have much choice in the matter, though; under pressure from Apple, at this point Foxconn is willing to try just about anything to stamp out the suicide trend.



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RE: Seriously?
By alanore on 5/27/2010 4:27:21 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, it shows a complete lack of understanding from Foxcon.


RE: Seriously?
By Reclaimer77 on 5/27/2010 4:31:04 PM , Rating: 5
They understand just fine. They just DON'T care! A suicide isn't a loss of human to them, it's the loss of that humans production.


RE: Seriously?
By FaaR on 5/27/2010 4:40:21 PM , Rating: 5
They don't actually care all that much even about the loss of production; there's hundreds of millions of potential replacements available to them if some of their workers kill themselves.

No, what they worry about is the loss of FACE. That's all. Because that could actually cost them money, and a lot of it.


RE: Seriously?
By MrBlastman on 5/27/2010 4:42:43 PM , Rating: 1
If they were so worried about loss of FACE they wouldn't have drafted a letter like this that could be given to the press and show up on places like DT.

They've already lost the FACE, and I don't think they care. They want their monies, soaked in blood or not. I think they would rather not because it costs a bit to remove blood clots from hard coins.


RE: Seriously?
By Gul Westfale on 5/27/2010 4:58:22 PM , Rating: 5
what if i break my promise and kill myself? are they gonna fire me?

hahahahahahahahaahahaaaaa


RE: Seriously?
By Chernobyl68 on 5/27/2010 5:31:32 PM , Rating: 2
yeah, I couldn't help but laugh when I saw that headline. How do you enforce a promise not to kill youself? 8p


RE: Seriously?
By clovell on 5/27/2010 5:39:30 PM , Rating: 2
Then you're just dead. And your family is legally bound to not sue the company - from the sounds of it.


RE: Seriously?
By StevoLincolnite on 5/27/2010 7:08:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Then you're just dead. And your family is legally bound to not sue the company - from the sounds of it.


Correct me if I am wrong, but wouldn't most of the families that have relatives working for Foxconn not be able to pay the legal expenses to sue Foxconn in the first place? - I don't know much about the Chinese legal system.


RE: Seriously?
By MadMan007 on 5/27/2010 9:45:24 PM , Rating: 2
No, the form only applies to the individual signing it from the language. Chinese law would determine whether relatives could sue and even if the letter did include such a clause if it goes against Chinese law then it might be invalid.


RE: Seriously?
By heiwashin on 5/27/2010 11:02:57 PM , Rating: 5
And China is all about human rights.


RE: Seriously?
By clovell on 5/28/2010 10:40:29 AM , Rating: 2
To be fair, I was partially wrong - it's not about whether there's a 'right to sue' - it's about letting the employees know that Foxconn has no intent of paying their families.


RE: Seriously?
By Dr of crap on 5/28/2010 9:07:25 AM , Rating: 3
You're all forgetting this is in China, not the US.
They have to many people to care.
There are not the same rules that govern themselves there.
And they probably don't have the same labor laws there.
So, this might be a more "normal" thing for them, just liek flogging people in the Middle East!


RE: Seriously?
By inperfectdarkness on 5/28/2010 8:51:39 AM , Rating: 2
i concur. policy mirrors what china's government does. it's been a long-upheld view that it's cheaper to pay damages to the families of mining fatalities than it is to actually revamp the system for safety purposes.

saving face is the only thing that they really care about.


RE: Seriously?
By DEVGRU on 5/27/2010 5:57:28 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
2. If you have other non-urgent problems, you can also contact the Complaints hotline: 15000 .... The company will also dispatch a professional to solve the issue.


Don't forget kids! Hitman: Foxconn , comming soon!


RE: Seriously?
By thekdub on 5/28/2010 1:11:39 AM , Rating: 2
Oddly enough, the last Hitman game ended with 47 discussing "business" with a Chinese man...


RE: Seriously?
By carniver on 5/27/2010 4:49:38 PM , Rating: 2
> it's the loss of that humans production.
No, they have lots of manpower. All they care is their reputation

Used to be that the only way out of the torture is suicide. Now that's not even an option


RE: Seriously?
By thekatar2 on 5/27/2010 6:55:56 PM , Rating: 5
Sorry guys, you guys are completely wrong about this.

Hon Hai pays 100k RMB ($15,000) to the families of each employee that dies on the job by accident, etc. This also included suicide, well until now. This letter is basically a written contract saying we arent going to pay your family $15k if you kill yourself. I think it's going to stop the suicides in a hurry.

$15k may seem like a paltry amount over here, but it works out to around 8.5 years worth of income for the rural workers who come to the factory from inland China. It would go a long way to help their families finanically. Other smaller less-known companies do not offer that same payment. So bascially, if you are in a situation where your famlily is in a very tough spot and you are willing to take your life so they can get 8.5 years worth of income, you definetly want to get a job a Foxconn. Now, I am not saying all of the suicides were financially motivated, but I am sure some of them were. So what about the rest then?

Well, the suicide rate at the company is still a fraction of the average in China. Assuming we get to 20 ppl this year (out of 800k total employees) yields us a rate of 2.5 suicides per 100k. The Chinese national average is 14 per 100k, Hong Kong is 15.2 out of 100k. We would need to see one suicide at Hon Hai every 3 days for a full year before they get clost to the national average.So think rationally for a sec and let the facts speak for themselves.

Oh yea I should mention, through my job I actually got to spend a day touring that facility in Shenzhen. So I am not some idiot poster who knows nothing. The place is 10x nicer than the surroungind area. The place has tons of ammenities from shopping, restaurants, clubs, medical, dating services, even a communist party office on site. Employees are allowed to come and go as they please. People were walking in and out of the gates the whole time we were there. You just have to see it to understand. Just imagine 100,000 19 - 24 year olds (roughly 65% female 35% male) clustered into 20 city blocks. Like a giant college campus. The atmostphere (socially) felt more like a college campus.


RE: Seriously?
By chick0n on 5/27/10, Rating: 0
RE: Seriously?
By clovell on 5/27/2010 4:57:25 PM , Rating: 4
> Yeah, it shows a complete lack of understanding from Foxcon.

What is it that Foxconn is supposed to understand? I'm having trouble seeing the fault in all this. The company makes clear that your family will not benefit from your suicide or attemptd suicide and offers other less destructive options.

I'm not trying to be a d!ck, but... what did I miss?


RE: Seriously?
By afkrotch on 5/27/2010 8:37:21 PM , Rating: 2
I never understand why these ppl just don't quit, if apparently it's so hard to work there.

Guess killing yourself for money is their better option.


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