September 24, 2012
Riots Shut Down Foxconn Factory For The Day
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Riots reportedly broke out early Monday morning in the Shanxi province in China at a Foxconn Technology Group factory in Taiyuan. According to Chinese state media, 5,000 police officers were called to the scene where fighting had reportedly broken out between Foxconn employees and security guards. Now, a reported 40 employees are left injured and the Taiyuan plant temporarily closed.
“We want to give people time to cool down,” said company spokesperson Louis Woo, speaking to Bloomberg.
Foxconn assembles and produces components and products for many electronics companies, such as Apple. A Foxconn spokesperson did not specify which company the Taiyuan plant was supplying, though the New York Times says an employee at the plant has said the plant was responsible for supplying components for the iPhone 5.
Photos and videos of the fighting and riots have begun to surface online, though the validity of these videos is tough to confirm. This video, for instance, shows a number of youth gathering together and walking past overturned security barriers.
The cause for these riots is under investigation, though according to ABC News, a Foxconn spokesperson has said the fights began as a non-work related issue.
Foxconn employs nearly 1 million people in China, supplying parts and products to the likes of Dell, HP and Apple. Unfortunately, this breaking news falls right in line with other headlines the company has been making in recent years.
In 2010, a number of employees began committing suicide by leaping to their deaths from their dormitory windows.
Other reports showed unsafe working conditions, cramped living quarters, extreme overtime hours and underage labor were common place in the factories.
Since then, advocacy groups have been visiting the plants, working with executives to reform their labor policies. Apple has also stepped in to ensure these conditions improve, bringing in independent labor group Fair Labor Association to monitor Foxconn´s progress as they work to improve the conditions in their factories.
According to an August report, Foxconn has made great strides to make their factories safer and limit the number of overtime hours these employees are working.
“It is a challenge. When we reduce overtime it means we need to hire more people and implement more automation, more investment on robotic engineering,” said Woo, responding to the August report by the FLA. “More workers also mean more dormitories and recreational facilities; it takes time.”
The Taiyuan plant is said to provide cases for the new Apple iPhone 5, though the plant isn´t responsible for assembling the phones.
Just before Apple´s September 12th reveal of their latest iPhone, state-run media sources claimed the factories were forcing Chinese vocational school interns to fill holes in the assembly lines in order to meet the demand for the new Apple smartphone.
Foxconn has said the internship program is completely voluntary; The students are free to leave at any time. A non-profit advocacy group disagrees, saying 10 of the 87 Foxconn employees they spoke with were students who had been forced to work the assembly line by their teachers.
“They don´t want to work there – they want to learn,” said Li Qiang, founder of China Labor Watch, speaking to the New York Times.
“But if they don´t work, they are told they will not graduate, because it is a very busy time with the new iPhone coming, and Foxconn does not have enough workers without the students.”
Apple released their 6th generation smartphone this weekend to record high demand and expected record high sales.