Foxconn is no stranger to controversy. Workers protests, suicides, threats of suicide, and riots have all marred the Taiwan manufacturer, which is accused of underpaying and overworking its workers while providing harsh, unsafe working conditions. The latest issue? Threatening to cut hospital funding for a worker who was severely injured on the job a year ago.
Foxconn employee Zhang Tingzhen, aged 26, was electrocuted while fixing a light. He fell 12 feet to the ground, and suffered severe, life-altering injuries. Several surgeries later, and nearly half of Tingzhen’s brain has been surgically removed, leaving him handicapped. He has been in hospital care since the accident, and is still not in good enough condition to leave.
Reportedly, Foxconn, who has been paying the medical bills, has been sending the worker’s family messages since July demanding that Tingzhen be removed from the hospital. The company has threatened to stop paying the bills, something that would be lawful under the applicable labor laws, unless Tingzhen undergoes a medical evaluation at a facility located 43 miles away. Due to the severity of his injuries, this is not possible.
Foxconn stated that it would have Tingzhen transported back to the hospital after the evaluation, but doctors fear that the trip could result in potentially fatal bleeding. The Chinese company, while acknowledging that it wants Tingzhen to travel for a medical evaluation, denies stopping payments on the medical bills. At the heart of this issue is a story that’s all too familiar: unsafe working environments, and disregard for workers, something that that seems to be at the core of Foxconn.