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Foxconn is world's 10th biggest employer: 1.2 MILLION on payroll

iPad-maker's worker ants still outnumbered by NHS at 1.7m

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iPad-maker Foxconn is the world's 10th biggest employer, and can count staff members over half those of China's Red Army, according to a new piece of research by the BBC.

Altogether 1.2 million people are employed in the Taiwanese assembly and electronics company, which churns out the world's most popular gadgets including the Kindle, the Xbox, the iPhone, the Wii, Acer computers and Intel chips. China's People's Liberation Army employs 2.3 million.

The world's biggest employer is the US Department of Defense which lists 3.2 million employees on its books. The Red Army's 2.3 million soldiers make it the world's second biggest employer. Walmart (2.1 million) and McDonalds (1.9 million) are third and fourth. The NHS is the fifth biggest organisation in the world with 1.7 million employees.

Apple, which has 63,000 global employees, doesn't figure in the list.

Foxconn – aka Hon Hai Precision Industry – was founded in 1974 by Taiwanese entrepreneur Terry Gou. Gou bought a plastic moulder with a loan from his mother and started making channel-changing knobs for TVs. Foxconn is now China's biggest exporter. Gou got in trouble earlier this year for likening his 1.2 million employees to animals.

Foxconn has come under heavy criticism for the treatment of its workers. A 2010 Businessweek interview quoted some of Gou's favourite sayings as listed in a biography of the tycoon: "Work itself is a type of joy", "A harsh environment is a good thing", "Hungry people have especially clear minds" and "An army of one thousand is easy to get, one general is tough to find." ®

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