Foxconn, the hardware manufacturer made famous by a rash of well-publicized suicides, plans to replace some of its workers with robots.
The Taiwanese company, which manufacturers laptops, mobile devices, and other hardware for Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and Sony, plans to replace factory workers with more than 1 million robots, according to a state news agency Xinhua report. Terry Gou, founder and chairman of the company, told employees at a dance Friday that the move is designed to improve efficiency and combat rising labor costs.
The company currently employs about 1.2 million people, but it's unknown how many people will be displaced by the robots.
At least 16 workers have taken their lives since the beginning of 2010 at Foxconn's factory in Shenzhen, China, a plant that employs hundreds of thousands of workers. Another three have attempted to kill themselves at the job site. According to AP, most of the suicides have involved jumping from buildings.
In response to the situation, the company promised to install "suicide nets" to discourage employees from jumping and said it would offer a 20 percent wage increase to some workers.
Foxconn parent Hon Hai Precision Industries has been repeatedly accused of forcing employees to work long hours for low pay under stressful conditions.