Another death at Foxconn in Shenzhen

A 21-year-old Foxconn worker fell to his death from the sixth floor of his dormitory in the company’s vast Longhua complex in Shenzhen early Monday morning, the Shenzhen Commercial Daily (深圳商报) reported.

The young man, named Cai, had joined the company just last month and was employed primarily as an assistant, his cousin told the newspaper. Cai, described as cheerful and easy going, had been to a friend’s birthday party the night before and seemed to be in good spirits, his cousin said. The incident follows the death of a 20-year-old worker at Foxconn’s Chengdu factory on 26 May.

The Taiwanese electronics giant, which manufactures products for Apple, among many other multi-nationals, was rocked by a series of suicides at his plants in China last year, and took a wide range of measures to improve pay and working conditions, and prevent further suicides by employing counsellors for young workers and installing high fences and safety nets around the dormitories.

Foxconn Vice President Terry Cheng suggested Cai’s death had been a drunken accident, unrelated to work pressures. He was quoted by Taiwan’s Central News Agency as saying:

Based on my preliminary understanding, the employee is not a staff on the production line, but works as an operator in our research department. The employee is still under a training program and has just worked overtime for only two hours during the past 20 days, so we think it is irrelevant to working pressure.

The death does however highlight once again extreme sensitivity of the authorities in Shenzhen and across China to bad news from Foxconn. The initial report was quickly deleted from major mainland news portals, and CLB was told all news related to Foxconn should be handled by the Shenzhen propaganda department.
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