The hits just keep on coming for Foxconn. After 250 employees at the Chennai, India factory were sent to the hospital on Friday, Foxconn can now add poisoning its employees to an impressive resume that already includes the suspicious death of a man who lost an iPhone prototype, 11 suicides and several more attempts, and at least one death from exhaustion.
The AFP is reporting that the Indian plant had recently sprayed pesticide in a routine, and scheduled spraying. Shortly after the pesticide was used, 250 workers — roughly half the workforce — began to complain of “sensations of giddiness and nausea.” All 250 were taken to the hospital where most were released. Twenty-eight remained in the hospital for observation.
Following an investigation of the facility, a representative from Hon Hai, the Taiwanese company that owns Foxconn, said the accidental poisoning of its employees “may have been caused by the routine spraying of pesticide at the production facility.”
It has been an interesting year for Foxconn, to say the least. What began with a rash of suicides quickly snowballed into an international incident that may affect the global cost of electronics in coming years. Following the suicides that drew public attention to working conditions that many workers’ rights groups labeled “hellish,” Hon Hai announced that it would raise the wages of its employees 20 percent, and some of the lowest paid employees would receive double their salary.
Despite the benefit for the employees, many feared that the sudden increase would have global implications, and could possibly begin to signal the end of cheap labor in China. Recently, Hon Hai has confirmed that it will need to increase costs in order to make up the difference of the raises. This shouldn’t affect items that are already in production, as a price raise would likely be trouble for competitive electronic products, but future devices could face higher costs for consumers, not to mention the complications of China- the world’s biggest manufacturer- facing a major economic shift.
The latest incident in India shouldn’t have any effect on the Chinese factory in question, but it is certainly another bizarre twist in the ongoing Foxconn saga.