Chinese labor arbitrators have ruled against the father of a Foxconn worker who sustained brain damage in a factory accident in southern China, in a case that puts more attention on the labor practices of Apple Inc’s largest contract manufacturer.
The case involves Zhang Tingzhen (張廷振), a 26-year-old engineer who had nearly half his brain surgically removed after surviving an electric shock in October last year.
His plight came to light after Reuters reported that Taiwanese firm Foxconn Technology Group (富士康科技集團) had sent telephone text messages to Zhang’s family, telling them it would cut off funds for his treatment and other expenses if they did not remove him from hospital in Shenzhen and submit him for a disability assessment 70km away in Huizhou, where the company says he was hired.
His father, Zhang Guangde (張廣德), took Foxconn to the arbitration office in October, insisting that his son was hired in Shenzhen and not Huizhou, where wages and compensation levels are substantially lower.
In official documents seen yesterday by reporters, the Shenzhen labor dispute arbitration committee ruled against the father.
It said the company had produced a contract dated Aug. 4 last year, showing that the young engineer was hired by its Huizhou facility.
It added that at the time of the injury, the younger Zhang was an employee of the Huizhou facility who had been sent to its Shenzhen facility for training.
The elder Zhang is preparing to appeal the decision, according to the family’s lawyer, Zhang Xiaotan (張小潭).
Asked for its comment, Foxconn Technology Group said: “As we have reassured the family in the past, the place of Mr. Zhang’s employment has no impact on the level of support that our company will be providing Mr. Zhang and his family during his current rehabilitation or as part of any long-term care.”
Since the case came to light, the company has said that Zhang Tingzhen can have his disability assessment conducted in Shenzhen.
Labor activists say that Zhang Tingzhen’s case highlights a common practice among large companies in China, which sign work contracts with employees in inner Chinese cities, where wages and compensations levels are relatively low, and then deploy them to work in more expensive cities.
Doctors removed half Zhang Tingzhen’s brain to keep him alive and he remains in hospital under close observation, unable to speak or walk properly.
His case has raised fresh questions over the labor practices of Foxconn, one of the biggest and most high-profile private employers in China, after a series of suicides among its workforce of about 1.5 million in 2010 and recent labor unrest.