Foxconn hits new labour low

Apple’s number one contractor, Foxconn has hit a new labour low after it demanded that a worker who lost half his brain in a factory accident was removed from hospital.

Zhang Tingzhen, 26, had nearly half his brain surgically removed after surviving an electric shock at a plant in southern China a year ago. He is under close observation by doctors, unable to speak or walk properly.

Foxconn, which is footing Zhang’s hospital bills, has been sending telephone text messages to his family since July, demanding they remove him from hospital and threatening to cut off funding for his treatment.

The company says that it has every right to do this under Chinese labour law.

Foxconn has admitted that it has been sending the messages and says that under Chinese law the worker must submit himself to a disability assessment. This would require him to be discharged from the Shenzhen hospital and travel 43 miles to Huizhou, where he was first hired.

Foxconn said it would be prepared to return Zhang to the Shenzhen hospital after the assessment, but his father said Zhang was unfit to travel and that doctors think he could risk a brain haemorrhage.

Zhang’s father, Zhang Guangde told Reuters that Foxconn kept sending him SMSs every day to get his son out of hospital and to appear before an injury assessment body or they will stop paying all expenses, including his medical fees.

Zhang was repairing a spotlight on an external wall at a Foxconn factory in Shenzhen, bordering Hong Kong, when he received an electric shock and fell 12 feet to the ground.

He has had five operations, has lost his memory, is incontinent and requires careful, regular monitoring.

Foxconn sent the text messages, and briefly halted payments to the family, despite a provincial law stipulating that injured workers can remain in treatment for up to two years before they must be assessed for disability compensation.