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Worker suicide at Chinese plant of Apple supplier, Foxconn

TAIPEI - A young worker at a Chinese plant supplying tech giant Apple jumped from his apartment Wednesday, it was reported - the first suicide since the plant's owners agreed to improve work conditions. 

Foxconn Technology Group, the main supplier of Apple Inc, said on Thursday that the 23 year-old employee fell to his death from his apartment located outside the plant in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

The worker had joined the company last month and police were investigating the death. 

"Foxconn is sparing no efforts in cooperating with the police and helping with the investigations," the statement said, according to a report on the website of news channel Focus Taiwan.

Apple and Foxconn reached an agreement in March to improve conditions for the 1.2 million workers assembling iPhones and iPads, a landmark decision that could change the way Western companies do business in China. 

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According to the agreement, Foxconn would hire tens of thousands of new workers to reduce overtime work, improve safety protocols and upgrade housing and other amenities. 

The move comes after Apple, criticized over working conditions at its sprawling chain of suppliers in China, agreed to an investigation by the independent Fair Labor Association earlier this year to stem criticism that its products were built in sweatshop-like conditions. 
A series of suicides among young workers were reported at Foxconn in 2010, and three workers died in an explosion at a Foxconn plant in Chengdu last June. 

A report in The New York Times also documented the cramped living conditions of Foxconn employees, as well as excessive hours on the job and seven-day workweeks in which employees stand for hours without break

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Foxconn also announced in mid-February it had raised wages for workers by 16 to 25 percent. 

Hon Hai Precision Industry, which makes iPhones and iPads for Apple, is the main listed unit of the Foxconn group, while Foxconn International manufactures handsets for clients such as Nokia and Sony Ericsson.

About 100 workers from Foxconn's Chengdu plant went on the rampage earlier this month after a dispute in a restaurant turned violent. 

Reuters contributed to this report.

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