This week, a 23 year-old Foxconn worker fell to his death from a Foxconn company apartment. It's believed to be a suicide. Today, Foxconn confirmed the worker's death, which happened outside Foxconn's Chengdu plant at a company apartment.
The suicide is the first since Foxconn and Apple reached agreement over improving conditions for its 1.2 million workers who make the world's electronics. Foxconn workers don't only assemble the iPhone and the iPad, but also the Wii, the Xbox 360, and the PlayStation 3. According to rumors online in China, it's a suicide that authorities also tried to cover up.
It's also the first suicide since reports earlier this month when apparently as many as a thousand workers rioted at Foxconn's Chengdu complex, the location of this week's suicide. The riot seems to have broken out over declining work time that is cutting into worker pay. The actual number of participants is unconfirmed, and it could be much lower.
Online in China, there were rumors that after this week's suicide, Chinese police officers ordered all eye witness at the Chengdu complex to delete all photos and videos. Those who did not were threatened with arrest. These rumors, however, are unconfirmed. Moreover, the Chengdu police did announce the death on its website, so if there is a cover-up, it's not a very good one.
Above is a photo that was not deleted. It supposedly shows the 23 year-old man before he jumped to his death. It's believed that this suicide is somehow connected to the recent riot in Chengdu.
Foxconn has tried to improve working conditions. Earlier this year, for example, Foxconn raised employee salaries by 16 to 25 percent. However, there have been grumblings recently of fewer shifts, which, in turn, means lower worker pay.
Lately, the threat of suicide has become something of a bargaining tool at Foxconn. In January, a group of Foxconn employees on the Xbox 360 line threatened to jump in a mass suicide due to a labor dispute.
(Top photo: Kin Cheung | AP/bianzhixin | Sina Weibo)