Foxconn wages new kind of ‘war’
Updated: 2014-04-24 11:29
By Cai Muyuan (chinadaily.com.cn)
Editor's note: In 2010, a series of employee suicides cast a dark cloud on Foxconn Technology Group and its most well-known partner Apple, Inc. Over the past four years, the company that puts the finishing touches toApple's popular iPad and iPhone products, has had to reboot its own image.
Employees work at the reception desk in Foxconn's Longhua factory in Shenzhen on March 6, 2014.[Cai Muyuan/chinadaily.com.cn]
Phones are ringing on a recent morning in Foxconn's Longhua Factory care center in Shenzhen even though most of the company's day-shift workers are on production lines making gadgets for tech giants like Apple, IBM and Hewlett-Packard.
The morning's barrage of calls is nothing new. According to staff, the care center gets an average of 1,300 calls and 100 in-person visits each day.
The reasons behind the calls are also no surprise. The Taiwan-based company established the center four years ago, after a string of high-profile suicides, to address workers' mental health issues.
The consultations are free and the hotline is open 24/7. If any of the one million Foxconn employees across China is having any problem related to work, relationships, legal rights or personal problems, the professionals are just a phone call away.
There's also a counseling room decorated with bright-colored walls, couches upholstered with flowered prints and potted plants on the table. "It helps to relax the workers who come to see our counselors," said a staff member.
Liu Kun, the company's spokesman, describes the effort to run the care center as "war".
"Young workers don't like to communicate with or be friends with you. It is a very tough job for us… but we have to be involved in this 'war' for the sake of workers' psychological health," Liu said.
Jiang Caixia, a worker in her 20s, she said she thinks it is a good idea for the company to provide this care.
"It's good because we have someone to talk to about our problems, which we probably wouldn't even discuss with our parents. It's also a helpful way to vent anger if someone wants to," she said.
A string of suicides in 2010 at Foxconn factories in China highlighted what some claimed was a stressful working environment for migrant workers.
According to Liu, Foxconn has made substantial efforts to improve its working environment, as well as increasing salaries and improving social interaction.
"We have hired professional groups to manage the lives of these young employees. We encourage them to go out to the city to see Shenzhen instead of staying in the factory. Our labor union also hosts activities for them," Liu said.
The average age of workers in Foxconn is 23, with six men to every four women.
According to a staff member at the care center, salaries and personal relationships are the workers' biggest concerns.
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