Foxconn to hand over dormitory management to outsiders

Foxconn announced today that it is to hire outside managers to look after the dormitories its workers stay in in Shenzhen, China, where multiple suicides have marred its reputation.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports that the manufacturer of Apple iPhone parts has made an agreement with two Chinese property management companies to run the 153 dormitories it operates in Shenzhen, which house the 450,000 people who work for the company in that city alone. Foxconn built 33 of these dormitories itself, while leasing the rest from outside companies.

“Providing employees with basic necessities including a safe and convenient place to live at the work-site might have been sufficient in the past, but this arrangement no longer satisfies the needs of the young migrant workers of today,” Foxconn Vice President Terry Cheng said.

Cheng said this latest effort to stop his employees leaping off buildings is part of a move towards a “more open” style of management.

Cheng has also denied that Foxconn’s factories are sweatshops, despite criticisms from multiple organisations, including watchdog China Labour Watch. Apple, Dell, and HP employ the company to make parts for them and are investigating it after the suicides generated bad press for the technology giants.

Earlier this month the company announced that it would more than double the wages of its employees in efforts to end the suicide trend, but the move was criticised when it was revealed that employees must meet a three month “performance test” before being eligible for the pay rise. Considering some of the suicides happened not long after starting work with Foxconn this measure may do little to stop the tide.

It is unclear how putting the dormitories in outside hands will help the situation, but it suggests that Foxconn has finally realised it simply cannot manage the nearly 1 million employees it has and needs to get some outside help.