Apple 'upset' by Foxconn factory deaths

Apple has said that it is "saddened and upset" after another suspected suicide at one of its assembly suppliers.

Taiwanese TV was reporting yesterday that there had been a tenth fatality at the Foxconn plant, which assembles gadgets for Apple along with a number of companies, and that another young woman had also jumped from a building but had survived with serious injuries.

Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou had recently toured the company's sprawling facilities in Shenzhen with reporters in tow and vowed to take sweeping action to prevent more deaths.

Apple said in a statement that it was in direct contact with the management at Foxconn and that both parties were taking the matter very seriously.

A group of protestors from SACOM (Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour) called for a boycott of Apple products and protested outside Foxconn's Hong Kong headquarters yesterday, burning cardboard effigies of iPhones and iPads to make their point.

"The reason we're staging the protest is the high death rate due to some workers committing suicide within five months, which we think is abnormal," Debby Chan, spokeswoman for Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour, told AFP. "Foxconn should evaluate its management style... We strongly urge Foxconn to start a committee to look into the reasons they died."

Foxconn employs more than 480,000 workers at its Shenzen complex.

The Chinese suicide rate is the highest in the world at around 14 deaths per 100,000 people. It is estimated that more than 287,000 people take their own lives in the country every year.