SHENZHEN - The local trade unions federation has urged Foxconn Technology Group, the Taiwan-funded electronic manufacturing giant, to take care of the psychological needs of its huge number of young employees following a string of suicides.
The company, which makes popular products like the iPhone and the iPad for Apple, has been the subject of widespread criticism and speculation over its enterprise culture after six workers recently attempted to kill themselves, four of whom succeeded.
Immediate investigations by the Shenzhen Federation of Trade Unions found no breach of laws and that Foxconn had adopted "necessary and timely measures" following the incidents, Wang Tongxin, the federation's vice-chairman, said at a press briefing on Tuesday.
However, he noted, both the suicides and attempted suicides exposed defects in the company's management system and philosophy, particularly where the changing demands of a new generation of workers was concerned.
According to Wang, Foxconn "developed a kind of quasi-military management system", which, along with tight production schedules, emphasized assessments that were at odds with a new generation of workers who cared more about their quality of life than their parents.
The federation's investigations showed that more than 85 percent of the employees at Foxconn were born after 1980.
"It's not only a problem of Foxconn, but a common social problem. Companies should provide more mental care for employees besides material benefits," Wang said.
The federation will soon launch a city-wide survey to sample 3,000 to 5,000 workers who were born in the 1980s and 1990s to better understand their needs.
Unlike their farmer-turned- worker parents, the young generation has grown up with a better education and a closer connection to urban life, said Wang Hongli, deputy director of the federation's production protection department.
Liu Kun, who heads Foxconn's media office, told China Daily that the company has increased its efforts to create a more lively and considerate environment for its employees.
The company will invest about 20 million yuan ($2.9 million) for new sports and entertainment facilities to diversify its employees' lives outside of work, he said.
It also plans to set up a system to monitor employees for signs of stress, in order to take better care of their emotional needs, Liu added.