Yesterday may have been when Apple hosted its quarterly earnings conference call, but the company’s financial performance was somewhat overshadowed by the tragic death of a worker at an iPhone manufacturing facility. The factory, run by supplier Foxconn, is located in the Chinese city of Shenzen. Apple has previously come under fire for the labor practices of its Asian suppliers, most recently Wintek, which makes displays for the computing company.
The worker, 25-year-old Sun Danyong, was responsible for the final packing of a sample shipment of 16 iPhones. When one of said iPhones went missing, suspicion fell on Sun, and Foxconn management launched an investigation into the matter. Reports also indicate that a security officer, Gu Qinming, physically struck him during a confrontation regarding the theft. Sun denies the allegations.
While it isn’t clear whether or not Sun was actually found to be responsible following the investigation, he fell to his death from a 12th story window on July 16, an apparent suicide.
Foxconn spokesman James Lee admitted that the company’s management bore some responsibility for the incident, saying, “[H]is suicide, for whatever reason, in a way reflects a management defect on the part of Foxconn…especially over the troubles faced by our young employees.”
Apple also commented on the matter. Jill Tan, a spokeswoman for Apple based out of Hong Kong, stuck to the company’s principles and standards in a brief statement made to the Associated Foreign Press: “We are saddened by the tragic loss of this young employee, and we are awaiting results of the investigations into his death. We require our suppliers to treat all workers with dignity and respect.”
Sun’s death occurred only two days after a Bloomberg article went to press detailing the risks Chinese factories and their apparent disregard for labor law pose to Apple’s international reputation.