TAIPEI, May 27 (AFP) - Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn plans to relocate part of its suicide-plagued south Chinese facilities to allow some staff to work closer to their homes, Taiwanese media said Thursday.
The plan, reported in financial newspapers, would involve moving around a fifth of the workforce from Foxconn's plants in the city of Shenzhen to western China, where most of its work force is recruited.
"We will let young people return to their home towns to work so they can feel the warmth of home," said Terry Gou, chairman of Foxconn's Taiwanese parent Hon Hai Precision, according to the Economic Daily News.
He was speaking as his company came under growing pressure after several workers -- mostly young migrants from China's impoverished west -- fell to their deaths at the Shenzhen factories.
The apparent suicides have raised questions about conditions for millions of factory workers in China, especially at Apple manufacturer Foxconn, where labour activists say long hours, low pay and high pressure are the norm.
Guo made the remarks about the company's plans to "speed up expanding to the west" after meeting a visiting delegation from southwest China's Sichuan province, a major exporter of labour, said the Economic Daily News.
Hon Hai plans to invest tens of billions of Taiwan dollars (hundreds of millions of US dollars) in China's northwest and transfer around 80,000 workers from Sichuan back to their native region, said the Commercial Times, citing unnamed sources.
Hon Hai officials were not immediately available to comment on the reports.
Gou returned to Taiwan late Wednesday after giving the first ever press tour of the factory in southern China as the company waged a public relations battle while also seeking to stem the spate of suicides.
But Chinese state media reported that another Foxconn worker fell to his death Wednesday at the Shenzhen plant -- the 11th such death this year.