Foxconn rallies China workers amid suicide concerns

Foxconn workers carrying poster with the picture of company founder Terry Gou during a rally in Shenzhen, China, 18 August 2010 Foxconn says it organised the rally to show support for its employees

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Technology giant Foxconn has held employee rallies in its factories across China, after suicides sparked concern about working conditions.

The Taiwanese company said tens of thousands of people turned out in costume for the rallies.

Foxconn organised the events to show its support for its workforce, a company spokesman said.

A total of 13 Chinese employees have committed suicide at Foxconn or related plants.

At the company's campus in the southern city of Shenzhen, workers turned up in costumes ranging from Spider-Man outfits to Victorian dresses.

The company had put on bands and acrobats in a stadium decorated with red banners saying "Care for and love each other".

The plant in Shenzhen, which includes bakeries, banks and acupuncture clinics, employs over 400,000 people.

Employees from other factories across China were shown live on giant screen for the event, which was titled "treasure your life, love your family, care for each other to build a wonderful future".

Foxconn said about 50,000 of its 900,000 workers in China were due to take part in the rally.

The firm, whose parent company is Hon Hai, manufactures mobile phones and electronic equipment for top brands, including Dell computers and Apple.

Foxconn employees dressed as angels during a company rally in Shenzhen on 18 August 2010 Many employees dressed in costume for the rally in Shenzhen

So far the company's founder, Terry Gou, has insisted that the suicides of employees were not work-related, but families of the deceased have blamed punishing work schedules in the plants.

The company is now training counsellors and has provided leisure facilities for the workers.

"We were kind of blinded by our success," a special assistant to Mr Gou, Louis Woo, said on Wednesday.

"We had not changed fast enough to meet the needs of this new generation of workers."

The deaths of Foxconn employees have put the spotlight on working conditions in China and drawn attention to the growing labour movement and frequent strikes.

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