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Longstanding concerns over the safety, welfare, and working conditions of its employees were reignited over the weekend when, according to China Labor Watch (CLW), another worker reportedly jumped to his death from the roof of a Foxconn iPhone assembly plant.
As first reported by The Telegraph, CLW confirmed that Li Ming, 31, of Zhengzhou city, jumped from the roof of Foxconn’s largest iPhone manufacturing plant located in neighboring Zhengzhou on Saturday. Foxconn reportedly assembles Apple’s high end iPhone X exclusively at the Zhengzhou plant.
Ling, who’d reportedly been working at the facility just two months (while living in Foxconn’s on-campus dormitories), is shown lying on the snowy ground outside the building in video footage obtained by CLW. The U.S.-based Chinese labor rights organization further confirmed that while Ling’s motive for jumping remains unclear, his family has been informed of the incident.
A Systematic Situation?
This somber news is unfortunately bound to trigger a firestorm of flashbacks to the “wave” of eerily similar, Foxconn employee-related suicides that rocked the tech world back in 2010.
At the time, Apple and Foxconn were being battered by allegations that they “forced” employees to endure “sweat shop” working conditions, which were determined by CLW to be in part responsible for a number of Foxconn factory-related suicides that year.
“We are on top of this… Foxconn is not a sweatshop. It’s a factory – but my gosh, they have restaurants and movie theatres… but it’s a factory,” Apple’s late co-founder, Steve Jobs, notoriously said in response to those early reports, acknowledging that “they’ve [Foxconn] had some suicides and attempted suicides – and they have 400,000 people there. The rate is under what the US rate is, but it’s still troubling.”
In a subsequent attempt to “quell additional suicides,” meanwhile, Foxconn in 2011 reportedly installed a network of ‘safety nets’ outside its complexes in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China, where it also manufactures devices for Nintendo, BlackBerry, and Sony.
Albeit to a lesser extent in the years since, we’ve witnessed a number of additional deaths, protests and accusations hurled at Apple and Foxconn — with at least one, outspoken student willing to go public with their story about the otherwise grueling, repetitive nature of day to day life working on an iPhone assembly line.
A Foxconn spokesperson has yet to respond to The Telegraph’s requests for comment on today’s incident; however, damning as the news is, it would seem like only a matter of time until the highly controversial topic is thrust into the spotlight, yet again.
In the interim, if you’d like to read more into Apple and Foxconn’s otherwise “questionable” employment practices, be sure to check out previous coverage of the allegations here.