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Workers at a factory in China

Church failed Foxconn workers, say migrants reporter, Shenzhen

June 11 2010

Catholic employees at a Foxconn factory in Shenzhen have criticized a lack of Church support for migrant workers following a string of suicides since January.

Some migrant workers from the company have set up their own online mutual support site in the wake of at least 13 suicides or attempted suicides at the firm. They were joined by some Catholics working in other Shenzhen factories.

Catholics at the firm have little contact with local Christians.

"I am unfamiliar with the local environment and know few parishioners as I sometimes have to work Sundays," Chen, a Catholic layman who works for the iPhone-manufacturer, said.

He said the Church did not pay enough attention to migrant workers and called for a special group to organize weekend activities to strengthen faith and team spirit. He also called for Church visits to help those unable to attend church regularly.

In the absence of the local Church support, Chen and about 30 other Catholics set up the online forum where they can share their joys and worries.

Father Joseph from Shenzhen parish admitted his church needed to mobilize the faithful to care for migrant workers.

"Our action has been slow, probably due to immaturity of our faith formation," he told However local Catholics do have a sense of social concern, he said.

Workers should reach out to Catholic families and then to non-believers to gradually form "a positive, healthy and spiritual community," Father Joseph said.

Foxconn offers better fringe benefits than other factories in Shenzhen but management is strict and lacks concern for its workers, said Chen.

"My work is dull and repetitive," he told Although the company in Shenzhen employs 400,000 people, no one really knows more than a few individuals, he said.

Foxconn recently awarded 2,000 yuan (US$293) a month pay rise for qualified workers but this doesn't help fill a void in his spiritual life, Chen said.

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