Harsh working conditions too high a price for Chinese electronics

Posted on 11 Oct 2012 by Tim Brown

The family of a worker who committed suicide on September 29 at an alleged Apple supplier in China has blamed his death on the harsh management at the factory.

The worker, He Cheng, jumped to his death from the sixth floor of a company building of Foxlink, a Taiwanese manufacturer.

The worker, who had been employed at the Foxlink factory in the Chinese city of Dongguan for only 20 days, committed suicide after management refused to give him three days of personal leave, according to his sister, He Mei.

According to an article on the Techworld website, due to demand for the iPhone 5, the factory’s management was pressing employees to work during China’s National Day holiday. He Mei told the website: “The company said he couldn’t request a leave of absence. If he wanted to leave, then he would have to leave his job, but he wouldn’t be paid his wages,” she said.

“He then threatened to jump off the roof and commit suicide,” she added, noting that her brother was already feeling ill from working 14 to 15 hours each day at the factory. “The company didn’t really care about what he had to say.”

The family has tried demonstrating against the conditions at the company but were detained by local police.

The Foxlink factory builds electronics accessories, including cable connectors for the iPhone, according to Jin Jie, an investigator with labor protection group Little Grass Workers’ Home, who worked at the factory between July and August.

Apple, however, does not name Foxlink as one of its suppliers in its 2011 list, although the Taiwanese firm does have a tie with major Apple supplier Foxconn. The leaders of the two companies, Foxlink Chariman T.C. Gou and Foxconn CEO Terry Gou, are brothers.