SHANGHAI — Three Chinese employees at Foxconn, one of the world’s biggest contract electronics manufacturers, died in what were believed to be suicides in recent weeks, and a group that monitors labor conditions in China says it is the latest indication that the company continues to be plagued by labor problems.
Foxconn, a Taiwanese company that does manufacturing and assembly for some of the world’s biggest electronics brands, including Apple and Hewlett-Packard, has more than a million workers in China. In a statement Monday, Foxconn said that none of the deaths appeared to be work-related and that they all occurred outside the factories. The company also said one of the employees had not yet begun work at the company. All three were said to have jumped to their deaths from buildings.
“We cannot speculate on individual reasons for these actions, but an internal review shows that there is no indication that they were caused by work-related matters. It is also important to note that experts who have reviewed such tragic incidents in the past have indicated that suicide is a complex issue and that there is no one reason that can ever be cited for any such incident,’’ the company said.
The authorities in central China’s Henan Province, where the deaths occurred, said they were investigating the cases, which the state-run news media said occurred at housing complexes that cater to Foxconn workers. The annual suicide rate in China, according to the World Health Organization, is 22.23 people per 100,000.
China Labor Watch, a group that monitors Chinese labor practices, said in a news release that, ‘‘The reasons for these building jumpings are unclear.’’ It suggested it was related to labor practices inside the factory that limit conversation among workers.
The company is trying to remake its image after a spate of worker suicides several years ago.