Angry Foxconn chief warns on Taiwan investment plans

Angry Foxconn chief warns on Taiwan investment plans

TAIPEI, July 22, 2010 (AFP) - The head of Taiwanese IT giant Foxconn has hit out at critics who claim the firm mistreats Chinese workers and threatened to review his company's investment plans on the island.

Terry Gou, chairman of the group which is a major sub-contractor for Apple and other electronics giants, was responding to Taiwanese criticism following a series of suicides at the company's plants in China.

"I don't know why our image has been smeared to this extent," he was quoted by Huang Chiu-lien, chief financial officer of the group, as saying during a briefing Wednesday for selected journalists.

"He said he was even wondering if there was still room for us in Taiwan.... We'll review our local investment plans, but the plans as a whole have not yet been finalised," Huang said, referring to plans that could be worth hundreds of millions of US dollars.

The comments come after protests by Taiwanese academics who have claimed that Foxconn ill-treats workers in Chinese cities such as Shenzhen and have labelled the company a "shame on Taiwan".

A total of 11 Chinese employees have committed suicide this year at Foxconn plants by jumping from buildings, including 10 in Shenzhen. Another worker at a Foxconn affiliate died this week after falling from a dormitory.

Gou has said none of the deaths were directly work-related and that he has been cleared by Chinese authorities of any wrongdoing.

Foxconn, which is also known as Hon Hai, announced last month it would hike monthly salaries for assembly line workers in Shenzhen by nearly 70 percent to 2,000 yuan (290 dollars) from October 1 to help stem the problems.

"Some local academics even protested outside the Hon Hai headquarters claiming that Hon Hai is a shame of Taiwan. Gou said he felt agonised upon seeing this," Huang said.

Taiwan and China have been governed separately since a civil war in 1949, but Beijing considers the island part of its territory.