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Scandal-hit Foxconn sets sights inland

07-19-2010 10:47 BJT

Central cities battle it out to lure electronics giant. Li Yuefeng in Henan, Zhang Yuchen in Shenzhen and Li Jing in Beijing report

Inland cities are in fierce competition to be part of Foxconn Technology Group's huge repositioning plans, which were announced shortly after a series of suicides at the company's South China plants.

Zhengzhou in Henan province, Wuhan in Hubei, Chengdu in Sichuan and Langfang in Hebei are all listed as possible locations by the world's largest contract electronics maker, whose operations are currently centered in Shenzhen, an industrial hub in Guangdong province.

Although a final agreement is yet to be reached between the Zhengzhou government and Foxconn, recruitment has already started in this populous province in Central China.

A company document acquired by China Daily shows that the Taiwan-headquartered firm, whose clients include Apple and Sony, will hire 100,000 workers from 18 cities by Sept 20. As of June, about 38,000 people had already joined.

"They will all get internships at the Shenzhen plant for at least three months," said a human resources worker at Foxconn who did not want to be identified discussing the company's hiring policy. "The first batch of workers has already arrived there."

"It will take six months for the new plant in Henan to be constructed. The workers can choose to come back here when production facilities are ready," the HR employee added.

Foxconn hit the headlines this year for a string of 13 suicide attempts at its Shenzhen plant between January and May. All were aged 18 to 24, with most leaping from the top of one of its buildings. Ten people died.

Bosses attributed the deaths to personal problems suffered by the jumpers, yet the company received widespread criticism in the national and international media for its poor working conditions and treatment of staff. Investigations showed production line workers had to do overtime every day to make about 2,000 yuan ($300) a month.

However, the incidents have failed to deter leaders and migrant laborers in inland cities from pursuing opportunities with Foxconn.

A company recruitment point set up on July 1 at Henan Agricultural University in Zhengzhou has received hundreds of on-the-spot applications, as well as many via text message, e-mail and QQ instant messenger service.

In the first 10 days of this month, more than 500 people - mostly men - had applied for various positions, said a worker at the point who asked not to be named. He said about 60 percent were vocational school graduates, while 10 percent had college diplomas.

Foxconn is proving far more popular in the province than other companies, even those that offer similar payment packages. For many, the key point is the option of returning home.

"My brother is already working at the Shenzhen plant," said Li Yunxiao, a 19-year-old Henan Information Engineering School graduate at the company's college hiring point. "He told me the working and living conditions are good there, so I decided to join him.

"It will be great if we can both come back (home to Henan) and work for a company like Foxconn, so we don't need to move to coastal cities."

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