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Foxconn CEO: 'Suicides weren't our fault'

Family breakdown, not factory conditions

Workers in a Foxconn plant, credit: Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA

An investor meeting has heard from Foxconn's CEO that the worker suicides that plagued the company in recent years weren't the company's fault.

Urging patience among investors as the Chinese giant works to reinvent itself beyond product assembly, hiring thousands of researchers and looking at everything from cloud services to electric cars (Gou hopes the outfit can build a $US15,000 EV, according to this report), Gou noted that as the company's largest shareholder, “if it's bad for Hon Hai it's also bad for me”.

Hon Hai Precision Industry is Foxconn's largest business unit. During the Hon Hai shareholders' meeting, Gou said the number of suicides reported in the company's Chinese operations were a function of scale, rather than an accurate reflection of working conditions.

PC World reports Gou as saying that while some suicides were down to monotonous work, “90 per cent” of the deaths “had to do with personal relationships or because of family disputes”.

He also pointed out that with more than 470,000 workers in Shenzen, scale alone made it inevitable that the company would have suicides among its workers, and asserted that few Chinese factories would be able to meet Foxconn's standards.

The “Foxconn scandal" broke in 2010, with a leaked report later asserting that the company's manufacturing campuses were like a prison. Reports of suicidal workers continued through to 2012.

Plans discussed by Gou for the future include hiring 15,000 people in Taiwan for research roles, and he hinted at trying to secure manufacturing work for Facebook, owner of Oculus Rift, as part of trying to hit 10 per cent year-on-year profit growth. ®

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