Mass suicide threat at Foxconn factory

FoxconnAbout 300 workers at a Foxconn factory in Wuhan, eastern China, reportedly threatened to kill themselves last week by jumping off the top of a building over a dispute with their employer.

According to a report by Want China Times quoting information from Chinese anti-government website China Jasmine Revolution, employees had asked management for a pay rise. In response, they were given an ultimatum by bosses: either quit their job and take compensation, or keep their job but receive no increase in pay.

Want China Times reports that most workers at the facility decided to quit and take the compensation, but when they did so, the compensation wasn’t paid.

In response, the workers made their way to the top of a building at the facility and threatened to jump off unless bosses coughed up what they’d been promised.

It took the mayor of the city to talk them out of their threatened mass suicide, though it’s not currently clear what agreement, if any, has been reached between the workers and management at the site.

Taiwan-based Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics manufacturer, has been in the news before over working conditions at its factories.

In May last year, an explosion killed three workers at one of its factories and in the first five months of 2010 at least 16 Foxconn factory workers jumped from high buildings, resulting in 12 deaths. The problems prompted the company to get workers to sign a “no suicide” pledge.

Foxconn currently employs more than a million people on the Chinese mainland, though there were reports last year that it is making moves to install robots on some of its productions lines.

The electronics manufacturer claimed last year that it’d improved conditions for workers at its facilities, but this latest incident in Wuhan will once again throw its working practices under the spotlight.