Foxconn seeks to expand workforce by 30,000

Taiwan's manufacturing giant Foxconn, the world's largest contract manufacturer of electronics parts, says it is on a recruitment drive to snag some 30,000 workers in China's Hubei province.

The outfit, which makes such devices as Apple iPhones and HP notebooks sprung into the public consciousness last as reports of suicidal employees jumping off its roofs and out of windows pushed management to install nets around its facilities to catch tumbling workers.

The company has been accused of operating a sweatshop, underpaying workers, getting students to work around the clock on temporary contacts and other such exploitative shenanigans.

Boss Terry Guo, thought to be Taiwan's richest man, went on the offensive, offering to improve conditions, up wages and even employing a bunch of Buddhist monks to increase morale at the factories. He received backing from Steve Jobs, who protested "Foxconn is not a sweatshop."

Guo's smartest move, however, may have been to end consolidation payments for suicides.

According to local media reports Foxconn is luring in new workers by offering 2,800 yuan (£267). The average salary level in Wuhan is closer to 1,500 yuan (£143).

Foxconn is also on the hunt for its own Apple-style geniuses having won - through its subsidiary Cybermart International - a contract to establish 500 Apple-licensed shops in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Cybermart chairman Steve Chang said the first shop will open in Tianjin on April 1st. (let's hope he's not fooling - Dep Ed).