Taiwan IT giant Foxconn -- hit by a spate of suicides at its Chinese plants -- plans to replace 500,000 workers with robots in the next three years, state media reported Monday.
Foxconn -- the world's largest maker of computer components, which assembles products for Apple, Sony and Nokia -- plans to use one million robots to do "simple" work, China Business News quoted chairman Terry Gou saying.
Gou announced the plan to 10,000 staff at a company event in Shenzhen on Friday, various media reports said.
Foxconn currently has 10,000 robots doing painting, welding and assembly tasks. It will increase that number to 300,000 next year and to one million in 2014, the report said.
A Foxconn spokesman could not be immediately reached by AFP for comment.
The Taiwan-based company employs more than one million workers at its Chinese plants, about half of them based in its main facility in the southern city of Shenzhen.
At least 14 workers have died in apparent suicides since last year, most of them in Shenzhen. Activists blamed the deaths on tough working conditions and have called for better treatment of staff.
Foxconn has been expanding its workforce in other parts of China as it seeks to scale back the size of its Shenzhen plant.
The firm opened a $2 billion Chengdu plant in October, according to China's state-run Xinhua news agency.
Explore further: Human or robot? Hit Swedish TV series explores shrinking divide