There is indication that the recent suicides at Foxconn Zhengzhou are related to stressful working conditions. Newly introduced rules require workers to work in silence, and spur on internal auditors to report on their fellow-workers.
China Labor Watch (CLW) has reported that on April 24 and April 27 respectively, two workers of the Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou committed suicide by jumping off roofs. It seems that Foxconn has denied that the first victim (a young man) was a Foxconn employee. The man was, however, living in a Foxconn worker-populated dorm. Moreover, the man's family members have strongly protested the incident. It is not unlikely therefore to assume the man was indeed a Foxconn employee.
CLW reports that according to workers at the Zhengzhou plant the reason for the suicides was related to stress caused by a change in the Foxconn work environment. Since the beginning of April, Foxconn has instituted a "silent mode" in the Zhengzhou production facilities. This means that workers are absolutely not allowed to make a sound unless it is required for work, and even then it must be very quiet. Workers can be fired for breaking the rule. Workers obviously find this very stressful.
An additional new rule concerns internal auditing methods at Foxconn. Apparently, internal auditors are now required to report at least 20 problems within a work group. If an internal auditor does not manage to reveal 20 problems, this auditor will not be allowed to do overtime. As doing overtime is very much in demand to top up wages, auditors feel clearly pressured to find problems. Reportedly, workers who are associated with the detected problems are made to follow two hours of 'education' after their shift has ended. This time is not counted toward overtime hours. Moreover, as an additional punitive measure, these workers will not be allowed to do overtime for a certain period (a week to a month).