Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group, which assembles Apple’s iPhones and makes components for top global electronics companies, closed a plant in China on Monday after about 2,000 workers were involved in a brawl at a company dormitory.
It was not clear how long the shutdown would last at the plant, which employs about 79,000 people in the northern Chinese city of Taiyuan, while police and company officials investigate the cause of the disturbance.
Foxconn said the trouble started with a personal row that blew up into a brawl. But some people posting messages on a Twitter-like site said factory guards had beaten workers and that sparked the melee.
“The plant is closed today for investigation,” Foxconn spokesman Louis Woo told Reuters. An employee contacted by telephone said the closure could last two or three days.
Apple and its China manufacturing partner, Foxconn, agreed to improve wages and working conditions at factories accused of being sweatshops, a move that could set a new higher-cost benchmark for other Western users of Chinese labor.
Under Thursday’s landmark agreement, Foxconn will hire tens of thousands of new workers, eliminate illegal overtime, improve safety protocols and upgrade worker housing and other amenities.
This graphic looks at different aspects of the Apple-Foxconn workforce. See how many people work in the factories, some statistics about their background, the hours they work and their compensation.
Apple Inc’s Tim Cook, on his first trip to China as the chief executive officer, has visited an iPhone production plant run by the Foxconn Technology Group, which is being accused of improper labor practices.
China is the world’s largest mobile market and already Apple’s second-biggest market overall, but its growth there is clouded by issues ranging from a contested iPad trademark to treatment of local labor.
Picture handouts dated March 28 and e-mailed to Reuters show Cook seen smiling and meeting workers in the newly built Foxconn ZhengzhouTechnology Park in the north central province of Hebei. The facility employs 120,000 people, the handouts said.
Foxconn is a major part of Apple’s global supply chain, assembling most of its iPhones and iPads, but has been hit by a string of worker suicides in recent years that activist groups blame on tough working conditions.
Foxconn Technology Group, the top maker of Apple Inc’s iPhones and iPads, is not off the hook after a U.S. radio show retracted a program critical of working conditions at one of its Chinese factories.
The Hong-Kong based China Labor Bulletin said Foxconn still employed harsh working conditions, while a fund manager with shares in Foxconn’s parent said investors were watching how the company treats workers.
"The retraction has somewhat cleared Foxconn’s name, but not all the way. The press and stock investors will continue to watch how Foxconn treats its workers going forward," said Simon Liu, fund manager and deputy investment officer at Polaris Financial Group’s fund unit in Taipei. The unit owns share’s in Foxconn’s parent company, Hon Hai Precision.
"Obviously, Apple is starting to take serious step asking Foxconn to properly treats its China workers," Liu said.
Apple’s top manufacturer in China, Foxconn Technology, is having no problems luring new workers to churn out an array of Apple gadgets, despite the firm’s reputation as a tough employer amidst a thorough probe into its labor practices.
This graphic shows the different Foxconn locations throughout China. It also shows the change in number of employees & revenue since 2006.
Foxconn Employees Threaten Mass Suicide
Foxconn, the world’s largest electronic component maker (think: Apple, Amazon, Nintendo, Dell, Panasonic… well, you get the point) is not a nice place to work. So rampant have the suicides been that last year the company made workers sign pledges not to kill themselves.
Via The Atlantic Wire:
As American consumers ogle over shiny new gadgets at this week’s Consumer Electronic’s Show, the workers that make those products are threatening mass suicide for the horrid working conditions at Foxconn. 300 employees who worked making the Xbox 360 stood at the edge of the factory building, about to jump, after their boss reneged on promised compensation, reports English news site Want China Times. It’s not like this is the first time working conditions at Foxconn have made news outside China. But iPhone and Xbox sales surely haven’t lagged in the wake of those revelations and neither Apple nor Microsoft has done much of anything to fix things.
As The Atlantic Wire points out, this week’s This American Life features a trip to a Foxconn factory in Shenzhen, China where approximately 350,000 to 450,000 people are employed.
You can listen to the episode here.
Image: Workers at Foxconn via China Southern Weekly