The Taiwanese Foxconn Technology Group, responsible for making iPhones and iPads in China, plans to replace workers with more robots to cope with labor costs, according to reports. But following a recent spike in suicides and a number of high-profile strikes, the move may have ulterior motives.

Foxconn, which has contracts with Motorola, Nokia, Apple, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Sony, planned to use 1 million robots within the next three years, with an increase of 10,000 robots now and an expected 300,000 robots next year.

“Workers’ wages are increasing so quickly that some companies can’t take it any longer,” Dan Bin, a fund manager at Shenzhen-based Eastern Bay Investment Management, told Reuters. “Automation is a general trend in many sectors in China, such as electronics. Of course some companies will consider moving their manufacturing overseas, but it’s easier said than done when the supply chain is here.”

The move toward automation may be a way for Foxconn to combat negative attention the company has faced over the past two years, including a rash of suicides of young migrant workers. Last month at Foxconn, a worker committed suicide in a manufacturing plant in southern China, Reuters reports. A total of 21 workers have died at the company by jumping from their dorms or work buildings, according to

“Foxconn’s labor conditions are very poor, but its root causes are low prices from multinational companies and tight delivery schedules,” Li Qiang, executive director of China Labor Watch, told “Workers are only seen as fitting production needs rather than as individual human beings.”

Workers have also fought for a wage increase, not just at Foxconn, but at other China-based companies. In southern China, workers went on strike at factories operated by Japan’s Toyota Motor and Honda Motor. reports that at Foxconn’s highest-paying factory in China workers only receive $1.18 an hour.

Robots will be used for assembly line procedures, according to Terry Gou, Foxconn’s chairman. He also said more than 1 million people will be moved from “basic manufacturing work,” Reuters reports.