Foxconn suicide probe to be made public

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will publish the results of an official probe into recent suicides at electronics maker Foxconn’s giant manufacturing plant in south China, a Chinese labor affairs official said.

Ma Zishan (C) cries as he carries a portrait of his son Ma Xiangqian outside a Foxconn factory in the township of Longhua, Guangdong province May 29, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer

Zhang Xiaojian, a Vice Minister of Human Resources and Social Security, also said a recent burst of strikes in foreign-owned factories in the nation’s southern export zone did not amount to a “wave” of unrest, the Beijing News reported on Sunday.

A string of 10 suicides this year at the Foxconn complex has brought intense scrutiny of Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, the owner of Foxconn, which makes the iPhone and other products for Apple and also counts Dell Inc and Hewlett-Packard Co among its clients.

The Vice Minister Zhang said the results of a government investigation into the suicides will eventually be “released to the public”.

He indicated the government was not treating the suicides as simply the reflection of stressful work conditions at the Foxconn plants near Shenzhen, the southern manufacturing hub where Foxconn has about 400,000 employees.

Families of workers who killed themselves and other critics have said long hours and harsh management methods were behind the suicides.

“The Foxconn incidents are not only a question of labor relations, and there are multiple causes,” the paper cited Zhang as saying on Saturday.

“There are enterprise management problems, the psychological problems of young workers,” Zhang added. “This was caused by multiple factors.”

The 10 suicides and two attempted suicides at the Foxconn facilities have been followed by strikes at other factories in southern China’s Guangdong province and elsewhere.

Zhang, the Vice Minister, dismissed the idea that China faced a “wave” of labor unrest and said it was “very normal” for workers to make demands, said the Beijing News.

“A problem is what it is. Not everything is a wave,” Zhang said according to the paper.

Foxconn is embarking on a big recruitment drive for new workers for its manufacturing plants in other parts of China, including Chongqing in the southwest and Tianjin, a port city in the north, according to Hong Kong news reports on Sunday.

A spokeswoman for Foxconn said the shift of some production and jobs to plants outside of Guangdong has been long planned, the Ming Pao newspaper reported.

Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Alex Richardson